It’s Hard to Do ‘On the Road’ While Off the Road, So Here’s How Steve Hartman Is Adapting

By A.J. Katz 

Many know CBS News’ Steve Hartman for his On the Road segments, which traditionally air Fridays on the CBS Evening News and on CBS Sunday Morning.

What you might not know is that thousands of teachers have used Hartman’s On the Road stories in their classes. With millions of students home from school due to coronavirus protocols, Hartman thought a great way to keep his stories alive and reinforce values like kindness and community would be to teach a course himself. Plus, it gives teachers and parents 30 minutes off from having to deal with their kids.

Hartman’s Kindness 101 series streamed live on the CBS Evening News Facebook page over four days last week from 2-2:30 p.m. ET. The classes featured some of his favorite On the Road stories along with valuable lessons in themes like character, empathy, altruism and friendship. The class targeted grade school and middle school students, but kids and teens of all age groups participated.

According to CBS News, the Kindness 101 Facebook video series earned over 2 million views collectively. Not too shabby.

We caught up with Hartman after the conclusion of his interactive series to find out how he thought it went, and how his journalism at CBS will change in this coronavirus era. After all, it will be tough to go On the Road in this era of “social distancing” and when so many Americans are in quarantine.

TVNewser: How do you think the Kindness 101 series went, and what type of feedback have you received?

Hartman: We didn’t know what to expect. We were well aware that thousands of teachers across the country were already using our On the Road stories as part of their character education curriculum. So we knew there was an appetite for this. We also knew a lot of kids were following us. But we could have never imagined the response to our Kindness 101 online class.

Do you hope to do more of these interactive stories for CBS Evening News?

I would definitely consider doing more of these kinds of interactive stories. It has been an exciting way to engage with and educate our younger viewers, especially during difficult times like we’re in today. At the very least, I would like CBS News to make our On the Road archives available to teachers. That is a work in progress.

How is your job going to change in this coronavirus era? It’s pretty difficult to go On the Road these days.

It’s hard to do On the Road off the road. I will need to adapt, for the time being. It’s certainly going to be hard to get the emotional stories we seek, over Skype. Professionally, I want to stay relevant. Personally, I want to matter. So I will evolve. And I will be packing my bags, again—as soon as it is safe to do so.

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