Communications students to cover THON 2013 with live webcast, features

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- From a 46-hour webcast to regular updates of photographs and stories online, students from the College of Communications plan complete coverage of the annual Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON).

THON is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world and engages more than 15,000 Penn State student volunteers. The yearlong effort raises funds and awareness for the fight against pediatric cancer and culminates in a 46-hour, no sitting and no sleeping marathon each February.

THON 2013 -- from 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15, through 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17, at the Bryce Jordan Center on the University Park campus -- also includes a special event at 6:45 p.m. Feb. 16 when organizers plan a global line dance, encouraging viewers from around the world to participate in a special THON line dance at the same time as those dancing at the BJC.

For the ninth consecutive year, communications students will give those who cannot attend THON an opportunity to connect with the event through the webcast, which includes live coverage as well as several “behind the scenes” features.

The webcast -- which may be found at www.thon.org and at psucommedia.com -- is led by Maria Cabrera-Baukus, a senior lecturer in the department of telecommunications, and the students in her COMM 497K Webcast Production class. More than 75 students will collaborate on the production.

This year’s webcast will be the first in high definition.

Since its inception, more than 1 million people have viewed the webcast in more than four dozen countries. Organizers have received emails from viewers all over the world expressing their gratitude for being able to witness THON. In some instances, webcast producers have even responded to requests to show specific dancers or THON participants, so they could be seen by family members at home.

“It’s a special project that we’re proud to make possible,” Cabrera-Baukus said. “Students get hands-on, real-life experience and they’re providing a webcast to an audience that appreciates the connection to Penn State and THON.”

Dozens of other communications students will get similar real-life experience with their coverage of THON by producing photos, multimedia projects and writing stories throughout the weekend as well. Nearly four dozen students -- with access to all areas of the BJC and working around the clock -- will compile that work.

Specifically, students in COMM 481 Multimedia will be posting live multimedia stories over the course of THON and students in COMM 469 Advanced Photojournalism will be posting photo galleries. Their work will be featured and regularly updated at psucommedia.com online.

“THON provides a special opportunity for our students. It’s a major news story and it happens right here on campus,” said Ford Risley, head of the department of journalism. “With so many people involved and so much emotion and energy, it’s a wonderful opportunity for our students to showcase their talents by relating the compelling and meaningful stories that make THON special.”

Established in 1963, THON has raised more than $89 million for The Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. The fund works to offset the cost of treatment that a family’s insurance does not cover. It also ensures counselors, social workers, music therapists and other specialists are available to provide comprehensive care in a family-focused atmosphere. Last year, THON raised $10.7 million. For information on giving to THON, go to www.thon.org online.

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Last Updated February 14, 2013