Reporters to speak about Champaign kidnapping

Brody Donsbach, Contributing Writer

Two reporters who covered the kidnapping case of University of Illinois student Yingying Zhang will be on campus to speak Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Doudna Fine Arts Center Lecture Hall.

Ben Zigterman, a reporter from the News-Gazette in Champaign did the main coverage of the 2017 kidnapping, he will be at Eastern to give his insight on the case. 

Zigterman will also talk about how this high-profile case allowed him to gain experience for his career in journalism. 

Joe Astrouski, a journalism instructor at Eastern and former WAND-TV reporter, will also discuss what he thought were interesting, challenging and powerful parts of the case and how they helped develop him as a reporter. 

Students are encouraged to attend the event to learn about the story itself, Astrouski said, but there are also ways that students in journalism, communication studies and public relations can get a better insight on how this can relay into their careers. 

“This is a chance for people who are interested in journalism to understand how a story like this is covered over years,” Astrouski said. “It is also important for students that are involved in communications and public relations to understand how to work with the media in a high-profile case like that one.”

Astrouski said he was excited to be able to talk about the specifics of the case.

“This was a very high-profile case that drew a lot of public interest, which is unusual for this region to have a case that is so high profile and to have such international effects,” Astrouski said.

Students will have many ways to help gather ideas for their careers, as well as just hearing the insides of a long and winding story. 

Astrouski said the entire reach of this story is so much more than the University of Illinois campus; it has tremendous effects with so many people outside of Zhang and the convicted man. 

“The international student community in Champaign got behind the family and helped them,” Astrouski said. “Churches in the area helped to provide a funeral and the Chinese-American community in Chicago took care of this grieving family.” 

Astrouski said he is looking forward to speaking to everyone in attendance about the opportunity he had during his time as a reporter. 

He said he is also very eager to have Zigterman on campus to speak about his experiences and help give Eastern students an opportunity to understand the full force of journalism in a case like this one. 

Brody Donsbach can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]