Martin Rather, SHSU collaborate to produce 'The Underreported'

Martin Rather, a senior at Rice University and the grandson of Dan Rather, has teamed up with students at Sam Houston State University to produce a weekly news broadcast that focuses on stories not related to President Donald Trump that often get overlooked by the public.

These days, it seems that news and stories about President Donald Trump are inescapable.

Martin Rather, grandson of the iconic journalist and Sam Houston State University alumnus Dan Rather, wants to change this with a weekly eight- to 10-minute newscast he’s dubbed, “The Underreported.”

“The show is no Trump, no panels, no ads,” Martin Rather said. “To us, it’s a way of pushing a narrative of nonpartisan news. Regardless of how you feel about Trump — whether you like him or whether you dislike him — we believe there’s a number of people who feel that there’s  chaos in everything that’s going on in the news right now. So our hope is to focus on those stories that we believe are ‘underreported.’”

Rather began by asking people around him simple questions, such as how they get their news and what they pay attention to. From this, he couldn’t ignore the overwhelming implications that people were tired of hearing about Donald Trump.

The idea of a “Trump Free News” newscast began to grow in Rather’s mind, and he went to his grandfather’s alma mater, Sam Houston State University, to nurse it and turn it into a reality.

“For me, it was an easy fit to come up to Huntsville and to Sam Houston State,” said the Rice University senior. “We have a number of students here who are fantastic. We have over 40 who have worked on the project over the past year, outstanding support from the administration, from faculty, and so we’ve ended up pulling the show off, which I wasn’t sure we could do when it first started.” 

The way the show works, Rather explained, is that there are anywhere from six to 10 on-air correspondents at universities across the country, such as Yale, Columbia, Penn State and more. Each correspondent is assigned a producer that assists with finding stories and fact-checking. Correspondents venture out to shoot their stories and submit them to be reviewed and voted on for what will air that week.

“The Underreported” has caught the attention of many, with the program reaching an audience of more than 100,000 in its latest episode.

Rather takes great pride in the fact that the show is exclusively run, produced and created by students.

“In addition to correspondents at these schools across the country, we have a whole bunch of people who focus on what’s going on here at Sam,” Rather said. “Everything from sound editing, to working camera, to helping me with the main studio segment we do. So there’s a role for everybody. We couldn’t do it without both how large and how well-run this communications department is.”

While the main goal of the show is to shed some light on the stories that may be overshadowed by Donald Trump-related news, Rather also appreciates the opportunity it has given him to work with Sam Houston State University and build a rapport with students.

“I attribute much of the success of The Underreported to the team culture that we’ve created,” he said. “The way I got experience in building a team is a couple of years ago, I was named the youngest varsity basketball coach in Texas. I coached a girl’s basketball team in the East End, and we were able to form that culture there, and I think we’re able to do the same here. We have a really strong team culture — everyone’s supporting each other and everybody volunteers their time. It’s worked out better than I ever could’ve expected.”

Not only has Rather enjoyed working and getting involved with the university, but also with Huntsville as a whole. He believes he has the talent and ambition of Sam Houston students to thank for the recognition “The Underreported” has received, and hopes the show is something the city of Huntsville can take pride in.

“I think this brings national attention to the communications department and to Huntsville as a whole,” Rather said. “People see this is something that’s filmed out of Sam Houston State University and wonder what’s going on there. And the answer is there are great things going on. When we have our meetings, they’re always here in Huntsville, and sometimes I’ll go out with a group to Farmhouse or any number of different places that allow this kind of tight connection in this town. This may be the only national news program that comes out of Huntsville, and I think it’s something everyone can be proud of.” 

“The Underreported” can be viewed on Martin Rather’s public Facebook page or at https://www.newsandguts.com/, and airs every Tuesday at 6 p.m.

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