Veteran broadcaster Grant McOmie offers three students a slot on TV
by: Courtesy photo, Pacific student Alexa Block rides a zipline at Tree to Tree Adventure Park while instructor George Bidiman looks on.

While most Pacific University students were stuck in the library during finals week, Alexa Block was flying down a zip line at Tree-to-Tree Adventure Park in Gaston.

And the best part? For her final project of the semester, Block turned her high-wire cruise into a television news clip set to air on KGW's 'Grant's Getaways' this Saturday.

Block and two other Pacific students worked with longtime broadcaster Grant McOmie to craft short news segments about outdoor recreation in and around Forest Grove as part of a class taught by McOmie.

'From the beginning the opportunity to produce something for our show was offered,' McOmie said. 'They knew the first night that this carrot was dangling out there. The standards were very high and they met them and in some cases exceeded them.'

The course offered Block, a junior, and seniors Korina Kaio-Maddox and Molly Trotter real-life experience between shadowing McOmie and leading the production of the clip. Aside from the filming, which was done by KGW videographer and Pacific alum Jeff Kastner, the students worked on all aspects of their projects.

Kaio-Maddox took on the city's Forest Glen Trail, as well as Forest Grove's popular B Street Farm and the Fernhill Wetlands. Kaio-Maddox said working on the project opened her eyes to the real world of broadcast journalism.

'It definitely made me realize how much behind-the-scenes work goes into putting together even a small segment like that,' Kaio-Maddox said. 'It was really good in that aspect.'

Block said the best part was parlaying her interest in the new zip line park to creativity in class.

'I just got to be out in the park and interacting with people,' Block said. 'I got to see the news business from a different side.'

But without Trotter, the class wouldn't have existed at all. Trotter, who is pursuing a career in broadcast journalism, said Pacific was not going to offer the class initially, but by starting a petition she was able to get it on the course list.

'I put my neck out there and got petitions signed by students who wanted to take the class,' Trotter said. 'From there they realized we were serious.'

Value to viewers

With plenty of good stories available right on Pacific's campus, Trotter chose to focus on Pacific Outback, a university-sponsored program providing students the chance to participate in outdoor adventures. Trotter specifically covered a new whitewater kayaking trip that started in the on-campus swimming pool and ended in the Wilson River.

'It's just something outdoorsy that had an adrenaline rush and piqued my interest,' Trotter said. 'I thought it would be a cool story to do and would highlight Pacific University.'

McOmie pushed each student to turn out a professional-grade project.

'I wasn't going to let them fail,' McOmie said. 'That's kind of the bottom line. They had to have something that would look good and sound good, and critically be of value to the viewer.'

The Northwest television veteran hopes the students each have something that will help them advance in their broadcast careers.

'It was really important for me that this project culminated in something they can take with them,' McOmie said. 'It had to have some real world tangible result.

Mission accomplished for Trotter, who has accepted a job with KTVL in Medford as a news reporter after McOmie helped her get an interview.

With one more year to go at Pacific, Block hopes to go into journalism and broadcasting after graduation.

Kaio-Maddox said that although she has not decided what she will do next year, the class encouraged her to pursue the production side of television news.

McOmie was glad he was able to offer the students an invaluable combination of education and experience. He is excited for them to see their work on TV.

'I think they are going to be very happy and very pleased,' McOmie said. 'They did a good job on this. They rose to the occasion and I was very proud of them.'

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