Public relations and multimedia journalism students attended an immersion drill at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center Tuesday.
The students underwent a series of guided, role-played encounters set in the aftermath of a tornado disaster in fictional Garden City, Indiana, on the grounds of the Jennings County facility.
Public relations professor Ray Begovich supervised students who were placed into media roles common to crisis situations.
One group of students served as Public Information Officers, or PIOs. Others served as public figures, such as a fictional fire chief, a mayor and hospital director. Responding to these public representatives were student journalists.
After being placed into groups and assigned a role, the students followed on-base National Guardsmen as they practiced media responses to disaster scenarios. The drill also included “breaking news” interruptions, with a fictitious multiple-inmate prison break and car explosion cutting the deadline-writing work period short.
“Any scenario in general is beneficial,” senior Christian Sullivan said. “Being able to answer questions under pressure makes you a better communicator.”
The facility offers a 1,000-acre campus filled with destroyed buildings, a flooded town, a collapsed parking garage and other elements for real-time training.
“I think it’s the venue that will really burn this into memory,” Begovich said.
Senior Makenna Mays is in the midst of her semester-long immersion experience at TheStatehouseFile.com, a requirement for all multimedia journalism majors. The experience at Muscatatuck gave her an opportunity to practice her reporting skills.
“It’s just really good experience,” she said. “You have more time to prepare and think about what you should and shouldn’t do.”