Off the air 2

By Jared Huhta

Blair Caldwell sighed as she pulled the cover off the HTV desk. "I think this is the first time this year it's been off," she said. (Photo by Jessi Emmert).

HTV and the broadcasting major will undergo several changes in 2013.

HTV used to have one episode air a week during meal times in the Habecker Dining Commons and the Huntington Union Building. There have been no episodes so far this year, however, in preparation for changes coming next semester.

“We’re taking this semester as a transition period,” Lindsay Stalf, an HU alumna and the adjunct instructor for the HTV practicum, said. “We’re doing something a little bit extra.”

HTV plans to update their website, and place a heavier emphasis on backpack journalism. This requires a reporter to photograph, write, record and upload their story to a website. The revision reflects changes in the journalism field, Lance Clark, Ph. D., professor of digital media arts and the former executive producer of HTV, said.

“Real world jobs in TV news are looking for the backpack journalist who can write, film, edit and post on web,” Clark said. “We were not doing a good job in training in that order.”

Stalf, in her second year as HTV’s instructor, is also the producer of the noon news at WANE-TV.

“The station I work at, we put a lot of emphasis on the website,” she said. “That’s our breaking news tool. Any students who graduate and want to work in a news station are going to have to deal with that, and I wanted them to experience that and get a handle on how important a website is. It will look really good on a resume for them.”

HTV will still have a studio broadcast, but it will only air every other week. Like previous years, the broadcasts will be available online. But the new website will also have individual stories, videos, a WeatherBug and a CNN feed streaming national stories. The HTV staff is currently filling the website with content for its launch.

“I want to see it become a source for people to go to when they want to find out what’s happening,” Junior Blair Caldwell, student executive producer for HTV, said.

Discussions about changing HTV’s format began early in the summer between Stalf and Clark.

The HTV staff spent the beginning of the semester working with John Paff, vice president for university relations, on creating the new website.

The process has taken longer than expected, however, partly because the crew has only five students, smaller than in previous years.“It’s frustrating,” Caldwell said. “HTV is going to be irrelevant to [new] students. They don’t care. They’ve never heard of it before.”

“I don’t look at this semester as a set back,” Stalf said. “I look at it as moving forward and growing. Yes, we took a semester to transition, but I would not call it ignoring HTV. We have still been involved.”

The changes to HTV reflect the changes occurring in the broadcasting major as a whole. The digital media arts department proposed to “reboot” the broadcasting major to a fusion media major, according to the proposal approved by the Academic Concerns Committee Nov. 26.

“It’s going to be a very unique and exciting program,” Clark said.

The new Bachelor of Arts degree will be established in the 2013 fall semester. Current broadcasting majors can still complete their major or switch to fusion media. New students, however, will no longer be able to major in broadcasting for the 2013 academic year.

According to the DMA department’s proposal, “Fusion media might be best grasped as an equation: photography + film + story + web = fusion media. The successful student will demonstrate facility with a variety of tools, techniques and discourses and will be able to work in a number of settings — for example, as visual and audio podcasting, broadcast journalists, backpack documentarians, advertising agencies or church media specialists.”

“We kicked around a lot of ideas but eventually settled on this one,” Del Doughty, Ph.D., vice president for academic affairs, said. “It’s kind of a fresh, new identity. Fusion media is more than just broadcasting.”

Clark and Doughty worked on the curriculum for the fusion media major over the summer, and while no new classes have been added, some broadcasting classes will be altered next year. For example, New Media Journalism class will replace Broadcast Journalism and Advanced Television and Video Production will change to Advanced Media Production.

Clark said that he discussed the potential of the change with each broadcasting student in their advising session this semester.
Some broadcasting majors, however, said they did not find out about the approved change until Nov. 29 when Clark sent out an email to explain and clarify the program.

“There should have been a discussion with the broadcasting students about what was going to happen and about our frustrations, but there hasn’t been,” Caldwell said. “I feel like a lot of us are kind of clueless. To kind of be blindsided is not okay.”

The school is the first CCCU institution to offer a fusion media major, Clark said.

“If that is our major, how do we explain ‘fusion media’ to potential employers?” Brooks Hooley, a junior, said. “They’re not going to have a clue what that is. My biggest issue is lack of communication between Clark and the broadcasting department.”

Caldwell also expressed concern over the effects the 2010 transition from the communication department to the digital media arts has had on the broadcasting major.

“Ever since our switch into digital media arts, broadcasting as a whole feels like the ugly step child, which is frustrating,” she said. “In some senses, we have a more realistic opportunity to get a job than some of those [film] students.”

“When the major was moved from communication to digital media arts, the natural lines of communication were lost,” Kevin Miller, Ph.D., associate professor of communication, said. “Our students were straddling the two majors.”

Keirsh Cochran, a senior broadcasting major who will graduate at the end of this semester, said broadcasting could have been saved if it had stayed in the communication department.

“If we’re the first school to have fusion media, those students will have to explain what it is,” Cochran said. “If I was a freshman right now, I would never change to that from broadcasting. If you look at top schools, they still have broadcasting. An employer is still looking for broadcasting.”

Cochran will work for the Fort Wayne TinCaps in marketing and community relations starting Jan. 15, 2013. He said the program did not help him in getting a job.

“The only reason I got a job is because I worked my butt off to get internships and make connections,” Cochran said. “The broadcasting program has done nothing to help me.”

The number of broadcasting majors has also declined in the past several years, Clark said. According to the fusion media proposal, there are currently nine broadcasting majors enrolled. There are also no full-time broadcasting professors.

“They’re all adjuncts,” Caldwell said. “That is absolutely ridiculous.”

The department will not add any new faculty until the fusion media program reaches 20 majors, according to the proposal. After 20, the department will request someone to manage, advise and teach.

“They have every right to be frustrated,” Clark said. “I’m frustrated. But that’s one of the reasons we championed fusion media because built into that, once the numbers get to where they need to be, we’ll definitely be looking to bring in faculty for that. That’s the goal.”

Katrina Helmer, a 2011 broadcasting alumna and a producer for WTOL 11 Toledo, also expressed her frustration with the broadcasting department.

“The way the program’s set up right now and the way it has been for years, unless you have that burning desire, the basic classes that HU offers, the basic experience and the barely minimal expertise they offer, you won’t make it based on that,” she said. “I think if you’re going to continue the program the way it is now, you’re absolutely cheating students out of their money and lying to them. You should probably do the right thing by just shutting the program down, quite frankly.”

Miller said that he hopes students will see the positives, but if not there needs to be good dialogue between the school and students about it. Clark said the changes were necessary for the program to survive..

“I hope the students can see the positive in [fusion media],” Miller said. “If they don’t, they should have the right to ask and receive good answers.”

2 thoughts on “Off the air

  1. Reply Lance Clark Dec 6,2012 10:58 pm

    Jared I think over all this is a pretty fair overview of where the new fusion media broadcasting major is going but I would like to point out that it’s still VERY MUCH broadcasting with some additional options for corporate and church media. It’s all about story and how we can communicate our stories most effectively in the digital world we live in. We are so proud of both Katrina and now Keirsh who are perfect examples of the divergency of broadcasting careers. Our new fusion media broadcasting major is only going to further assist students seeking these kinds of jobs.

  2. Reply Older Film Major Dec 7,2012 3:22 pm

    I can attest that the Broadcasting majors have been kind of thrown under the bus this semester a bit more than usual. The DMA program in general is very unique in that they give you the tools and equipment that is necessary to learn, however a large portion (if not majority) of the curriculum requires you to train yourself.

    I have been very upset before with this but have come to understand its not going anywhere. You just have to see the good in it. Keirsh mentioned that he can attribute nothing to the program. But he used equipment and the facilities in order to train himself to go out and get those internships.

    Would you be ready for a nice job after you graduate after just floating through the program? No. But you can if you put you back into it. What it comes down to is who has what responsibility (HU vs Student). Our program needs a lot of fixing. But it is still credible.

    And for the record, I agree that the new name, “Fusion,” is pretty lame.

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