Hoos news gets serious

The recent “living wage” activities attracted boatloads of local media attention, but one special report you probably haven’t seen is creating a buzz around campus.
For the past year, juniors Josh Cincinnati and Mostafa Abdelkarim have lampooned all things Wahoo on their Internet broadcast “Hoos News.” The show is a “Daily Show”-inspired biweekly update on UVA life and current events. Cincinnati anchors with sardonic riffs on headlines, and Abdelkarim reports from the field, conducting improvised interviews with a Little Tykes microphone and a Steven Colbert-meets-Guy Smiley newsman voice.
The most recent episode, however, was bereft of the usual off-the-cuff riffs and ad lib hysteria. When it aired on Monday, April 17, the unusually sedate show featured interviews with grown-up types including UVA faculty and even Congressional candidate Al Weed.
“Sometimes there are extenuating circumstances where you have to go out and be serious about a story, and this was one of those times,” Cincinnati explains. Adds Abdelkarim, “We want to make clear to the community that we’re also here to serve them. Whether the stories be offbeat or not, we report on the news.”
This line between fake news and genuine credibility has been toed before—just ask Jon Stewart. In a 2004 poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 21 percent of people ages 18 to 29 revealed that they regularly learned about presidential campaign news from “The Daily Show.”
Like “The Daily Show,” which posts highlights and behind-the-scenes clips on the Web, “Hoos News” has benefited from its tech-savvy creators. Recognizing the limitations of UVA’s cable channel, WHOO-TV, Abdelkarim suggested broadcasting the show online. Their website (www.hoos news.com) provides links to QuickTime, Google Video and iTunes podcast versions of every episode.
“We’ve gotten random people commenting on the show from Chesapeake, from California,” said Abdelkarim. “Strange stalkerish people, but that doesn’t change the fact that they managed to find the show and get interested in it.”
“Hoos News” also recently became an official Contracted Independent Organization (CIO) at UVA—a major organizational step towards moving the show into the mainstream, and helping ensure its life after its creators have graduated.
Having said all that, both Cincinnati and Abdelkarim acknowledge that the show’s usual and preferred M.O. continues to be comedy. “The real goal for me,” says Cincinnati “is 10 years down the line I come back to UVA and I see the show is still going without any of us here—the momentum that we built has kept it alive to the point where I can go home, use iTunes version 11.5 and download a podcast to get my biweekly UVA update from a show that I helped create. That would make me really happy.”—Steven Schiff

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