Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

WEBN launches new branches of J-Channel show for Spanish and Mandarin-speaking students

Feixu Chen
Members of WEBN-TV Boston, Emerson College’s student-run broadcast news organization, produce their Mandarin J-Channel shows every Tuesday. (Feixu Chen/Beacon Staff)

WEBN, Emerson’s student-run broadcast station, launched two new versions of its J-Channel broadcast show in Spanish and Mandarin. 

The new broadcasts were created by journalism students who approached Angela Anderson-Connolly, the academic adviser of WEBN, about creating outlets for students to practice journalism in their native language.

“J-Channel is a daily news update and was created to allow underclassmen to get more experience in the anchor chair, writing, and directing,” said Anderson-Connolly. 

“It has since expanded to a place where students can experiment a little bit more on doing daily news, which is why we’ve introduced the Mandarin and the Spanish,” Anderson-Connolly said.

Unlike other WEBN shows, J-Channel is operated by four students, each with a large role in the newscast. An anchor, teleprompter, floor director, and director create graphics and write stories before producing the newscast.

While J-Channel is a smaller show that lasts three to five minutes, it allows students to hone their broadcast skills and practice the core aspects of a newscast, helping prepare them for tackling larger positions in other WEBN shows. 

The simplicity of J-Channel compared to the other WEBN shows makes it a great jumping point for the students who approached Anderson-Connolly about creating broadcast opportunities in their respected native languages, Anderson-Connolly said. 

“It’s something that’s always been in the back of my head that we need to open our doors to those communities a little bit more to expand our diversity and be more inclusive,” said Anderson-Connolly. “My job is not to say no; it’s to ask how.”

Senior journalism majors Kerin Tsui and Justin Chen expressed interest in creating a broadcast spoken entirely in Mandarin. Anderson-Connolly talked about how J-Channel is a great starting point for these students’ new ideas instead of just bringing back a full new show.

“Starting it as a J-Channel production with small groups, learning how to do things, learning how to write in Spanish, and learning how to deliver was a good way to step toward [bringing back a large newscast],” Anderson-Connolly said.

Meanwhile, sophomore journalism major Jaeel Beato wanted to revive an old WEBN Spanish newscast from 2014.  

“I’ve always wanted to do something in Spanish, but I just never knew how to start or where to start,” said Beato. “Since J-Channel is kind of like the starter before the actual WEBN shows, it’s sort of like the trial run.” 

Although he is a native Spanish speaker, Beato said he found it challenging to write formally because of his Dominican dialect 

“With the help of my team, the four of us, we wrote two stories each, and we slid all the work to make sure we’re all doing something, we had a pretty good result at the end,” Beato said.

Jaeel Beato, a sophomore journalism major, practices reading the script as he prepares for a Spanish J Channel show. (Annie Zhou/Beacon Staff)

The J-Channel en Español team consists of Beato, sophomore journalism major Emily Martinez, first-year communications major Isabella Cohn, and first-year journalism major and the Beacon’s reels editor Sofia Waldron.

Beato discussed the idea of expanding to a larger newscast with the help of Anderson-Connolly. They originally chose J-Channel because they believed it would be a good place to start. 

“Maybe [we] even make it an official show, like how we have the politics show, general news, and entertainment,” Beato recalled. “I’m going to try my best and work over the summer to plan stuff and try to see if we can make it a main show during one of the days of the week.”

Beato also highlighted why this is an important resource for Emerson students to have access to.

“There is a large presence of the Hispanic and Latinx community here at Emerson and I feel like there are also a lot of international students whose native language is Spanish,” said Beato. “I think it’s great to have some form of news that’s solely in Spanish and also covers many of the issues in Latin America.”

“It was important, especially as a Latino myself,” Beato continued. “I wanted that representation. I feel like we need more of that in general.”

J-Channel en Español covers local news and news happening in areas like Latin America or South America.

Beato also expressed interest in expanding to other forms of journalism, such as print or radio in the future.

“[These journalism formats] would be incorporated when we do expand the show and we make it a 30-minute newscast rather than a three to five-minute one,” said Beato. “In that 30-minute newscast, we would have web writers who would have opportunities to do a more diverse range of positions, and we would try to [empower] everyone to work in their area of interest.”

Tsui said she had many friends from China at Emerson who were afraid of going on air because they weren’t confident in their English-speaking skills.

“My initial purpose of creating this channel is for more people to hear the same background and the same language background that I do, to have the opportunity to join WEBN and express their thoughts,” Tsui said. 

Tsui added that Anderson-Connolly was easily approachable and made the process of creating the Mandarin newscast go well. 

“I’ve been taking Angela’s class since sophomore year. I think she knows my work style,” Tsui said. “Once I mentioned creating this channel, she was very supportive and helped me every step of the way … The whole process has been very smooth.”

J-Channel Mandarin mainly focuses on international stories as opposed to the typical lineup of breaking news, national, local, sports, and kicker stories. Tsui said they present the news differently than a regular broadcast in America or China, focusing on reporting on news from China objectively.

Unlike Beato, Tsui and Chen will graduate at the end of this semester, which makes the future of J-Channel Mandarin uncertain. The other two members, first-year journalism majors Junru Tao and Hongyi Ji, are going to work on the show next semester, looking for more people to join them. 

Ji, who is a Beacon correspondent, works on both Mandarin and English J-Channels. He said it is easier to operate in the English J-Channel because everything is programmed in English. 

Hongyi Ji, a first-year journalism major, works as an anchor for the Mandarin J Channel. (Feixu Chen/Beacon Staff)

“But when it comes to Mandarin, the computers [in the newsroom] and the computers in the control room don’t have Chinese syllables or Mandarin,” said Ji. “That takes a lot of time to put Chinese into the system and to make it show in the teleprompter.”

In response to the two leading members graduating, Ji hopes they can recruit or hire more people who speak the same language

“If we can do this, we can keep [the show] rolling,” Ji said.

Ji said they hope they can expand similarly to J-Channel en Espoñol, but he has his concerns. 

“We are planning to [expand], but it depends on if we can hire more people,” Ji said. “At Emerson, in general, the Chinese population is low, especially in the journalism department.”

Despite this, Ji is excited to be involved and said being a part of J-Channel Mandarin is a great experience.

Anderson-Connolly said it is important for students to be able to express themselves and practice journalism in their native language because it’s not something they get to do in class. 

“In class, they’re working in English because that’s [the standard],” said Anderson-Connolly. “[These shows] allow them to take what they’ve learned in class and use it in their native language.”

Anderson-Connolly highlighted why students’ learning skills in their native language are important for their future.  

“I think that’s important for them, whether they’re going home, whether they’re going to international channels or elsewhere, to be able to have had that practice and know that the skills that they’ve learned in class are not just English-based, so to speak, that they translate to every language and that they can use them,” Anderson-Connolly said. 

Both shows can be found posting weekly on WEBN’s YouTube Channel.

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About the Contributor
Sam Shipman
Sam Shipman, Assistant News Editor
Sam Shipman (He/Him) is a freshman journalism major from Natick, Massachusetts. He currently is a Staff Writer for the Berkeley Beacon. When he's not reporting he can be found listening to music or spending time with friends.

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