“Manitowoc Minute” Charlie Berens Visits Whitewater Campus

On Tuesday, October 15 comedian and journalist Charlie Berens paid a visit to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater campus. Berens is best known for his one-minute spoofs on Wisconsin news known as the Manitowoc Minute. During his time on campus, Berens visited Dr. James Kates’ Journalism for the Web class to share how he got his start in journalism and to provide some advice to students.

As a new college student, Berens didn’t initially have much interest in becoming a journalist but was motivated by his brother to get involved in journalism on the UW-Madison campus. During college, Berens began working for MTV as a field journalist covering various stories based in Wisconsin.

Through his work with MTV, Berens had the chance to cover the controversial 2008 Republican National Convention where he was arrested, and his camera was confiscated by the police. When his equipment was returned, all the footage with scenes of protests and police force were gone. Berens told the class that this experience, “…Showed me the power of journalism.”

Following graduation, Berens moved to Los Angeles to work for Herzog, a production company known for the CNN docu-series, the Decades. As a behind-the-scenes employee, Berens made himself useful by hauling equipment to and from studios using the mini-van he bought from his dad.

After getting tired of the Hollywood lifestyle, Berens made his way back to traditional journalism as the anchor for a news station in Dallas. After winning an Emmy for an environmental report, Berens took his skills from years of production work and started making his own comedic newsreels.

It was from these fake newsreels and his Dallas director’s criticisms that the Manitowoc Minute was born and went viral on YouTube in 2017. Berens says it took time practicing jokes at open mic’s in Los Angeles to be able to riff and make people laugh.

Since the explosion of the Manitowoc Minute, Berens has been featured on Fox, CBS, Funny or Die and soon Comedy Central. He’s currently on tour across the country and has performed at several well-known comedy clubs throughout the United States.

Students from other classes took time out of their day to sit-in on Berens’ visit. Rachel Charniak, a UW-Whitewater senior and social media manager for the campus radio station, 91.7 The Edge, said about Berens, “He was so nice and him and Patrick from High Gear Promotions were so awesome and fun to work with. They even let me talk about the radio station at Charlie’s event on Saturday!” Charniak said Berens helped create promotional material for the station and even provided a short interview for the station.

Berens left students with advice to start doing journalism now using the tools and technology available. Berens told students, “Anything you want to do you can learn.”

For more information on Charlie Berens and to see his current tour schedule, visit his website: http://manitowocminute.com/

My Digital self

The type of news I’m most interested in would be either state or national level. In regard to state-wide news, I find stories about new legislature or the governor the most interesting. My mom has worked in education as an administrator for almost 20 years, so I like to stay on top of any new happenings with laws or bills that are passed to benefit students and educators.

At the national level, I find stories about hot topics like gun control and family planning the most interesting. I think it’s really fascinating to see how states handle issues differently depending on how liberal or conservative their government is. There aren’t any specific stories I monitor on a regular basis.

I still follow the news from my home town via Facebook. I follow our local public radio station and our television news station to keep up-to-date on what’s going on there. There’s usually nothing breaking, but since I come home quite often and hope to move to the area after graduation, I like to know what’s going on at home.

Even though I’m a journalism major I don’t have a particular interest in television or print news. I have a passion for public radio and enjoy listening to NPR when I’m driving places. I find it really relaxing and I like that they cover more human-interest stories rather than blasting the same political stories repeatedly like most cable news stations do.

I don’t generally visit news sites on purpose. If I do, it’s to visit NPR’s website to see the rundown for All Things Considered or Weekend Edition. Of any news site, I’d say NPR is my favorite. I enjoy the types of stories they cover, and I like that they include audio and still photos to enhance the stories. It’s also a very simple website and isn’t as cluttered and sensational as other sites like CNN or Fox News might be.

When I do go looking for news, I’ll usually Google search the topic or event and go to whatever looks like a decent website to get the information. When the Stoneman Douglas shooting happened, I saw something briefly on Facebook and then googled “Florida Shooting” and went to the first site that popped up (that wasn’t Fox News).

During the few times that I read news online, I like looking at photo slide shows and interacting with infographics. I think they’re the best to get information quickly and effectively while still being interesting and holding my attention. My favorite format would be looking at photos because I think they tell the story even better than using words, audio or video. There isn’t anyone telling you what to understand or get from the story and you can make up your mind about what’s happening.

I have never interacted on a news story before. I usually don’t feel strong enough about the topic to say anything, especially on social media. Although I tend to get a lot of news stories through Facebook, I don’t interact with my Facebook friends who share the stories or the news station itself. I have a Twitter account, but I don’t use it because I don’t enjoy the format. I do listen to podcasts quite a bit while I’m working because I like having background noise and they can be really informational. My favorite podcasts would be Unladylike and Stuff Mom Never Told You. I’ve learned a lot about different issues women around the country are facing and how to overcome more female-focused issues.

I’ve never really had a fake news experience before since I don’t spend much time looking for stories. If I ever doubt the legitimacy of a story, I go on Snopes to find out whether it’s true or not. TO make sure the stories I’m reading are reliable and accurate, I only go to reputable news websites. I try to most go NPR or the AP since they’re the least right or left-leaning (in my opinion).

Welcome to my blog!

Thanks for visiting my blog! My name is Anna Catlin and I’m in my final year at UW-Whitewater as a Journalism major. This blog has been created for the purposes of my Journalism for the Web class, but it will also serve as a digital portfolio of the projects I create in this class.

I’m really looking forward to creating my own audio news stories because I have a passion for public radio. I spent the summer after I graduated from high school at my local public radio station creating news stories and producing them for broadcast. I’m excited to get back to my favorite form of Journalism and being able to tell stories through sound.

Check out some of my previous work at wxpr.org