Throughout the quarter, my group worked to find and report on stories that we felt would matter to the Cal Poly community. At the beginning of each two week cycle, we came ready with story ideas, pitched them, and talked them through before deciding on a direction to take. Our last story was a little different- instead of seeking it out, it sought us out. Having previously taken a VR class with Liberal Arts and Engineering (LAES) students and knowing how passionate they are about what they do, I was excited to have the chance to tell the story of their student-run escape room. My group members were not aware of escape rooms, but were intrigued by the concept and were eager to learn more. It immediately felt like the right fit.
We all agreed that the concept of an escape room was interesting, and wondered about the deeper implications of the project. We began by asking ourselves questions such as- why was this project important to the students behind it? How was this project related to the interdisciplinary LAES major? What is important to tell the Cal Poly community about LAES? Through my public relations outreach I gauged that most people did not know what an escape room was. It was clear we had a story to tell.
Compared to our previous projects, reporting on the escape room went smoothly. Laura and Amanda set out to interview LAES seniors Jack Goyette and Ciera Dixon, who were running the escape room. Jack and Ciera proved to be great sources- they were both very willing to be interviewed, and were quick to convey their passion for the project.
“The most rewarding part of engaging with LAES students was watching them talk about something they are so passionate about and seeing them light up when they got to answer questions about their accomplishments and this project,” print reporter Laura said. “Hearing Jack and Ciera explain the positive impacts this project had on their academic and professional lives was inspiring and is one of the reasons why I love journalism.”
Though the story proved straightforward overall, there were still some challenges, particularly in finding a diversity of sources for James’ multimedia components.
“For my multimedia portion, all my sources were students,” multimedia reporter James said. “I’m used to balancing sources and information, but this story didn’t really require that so I had to let that instinct go.”
All of us came away from the project feeling like we each had learned a lot. Through working on the story, we learned about the escape room and how important it is to the students running it. We also learned about the unique opportunity LAES provides for interdisciplinary learn by doing work. This especially shone through in our interview with Ciera.
“It uses so many different skills that you don’t usually get to utilize,” said Dixon. “I’ve done script writing, I’ve done video editing, I’ve sawed things, I actually broke my foot- I’ve done so many things for the escape room that I wouldn’t have gotten to do in any other environment.”
Individually, we each had the opportunity to add to our ever-expanding journalism toolboxes. James had the opportunity to learn how to use a Matterport camera to create a virtual tour of the room. Laura’s experience reaffirmed her love of journalism. Amanda had the chance to build on skills she had not previously felt strong in.
“I did not have a lot of experience with broadcast before this project,” broadcast reporter Amanda said. “I learned so much in just two weeks about broadcast, from learning how to mic a source to capturing the perfect b-roll.”
Getting to work on this story is an experience we will all cherish as our last journalism project at Cal Poly. It was the perfect ending to a quarter full of growth and positive group collaboration.