The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Digital newsroom online despite delays

Belo-funded project overcomes funding, construction obstacles to open for office space, instruction this semester

The journalism division’s digital newsroom is almost complete despite some minor obstacles over the past year.

The project began in February 2001 when the Belo Foundation donated $5 million to help develop a top-level journalism program and state-of-the-art digital newsroom. This new facility is now nearing completion in the area of Umphrey Lee once occupied by the SMU Bookstore.

The newsroom was scheduled to be complete in the fall, but the journalism division has had trouble raising extra funds for the newsroom.

“Fund raising has been slow here just like everywhere after September 11th,” assistant newsroom manager Michele Houston said. “We had the Belo Donation, but a large chunk of that went to the Belo Distinguished Chair in Journalism.”

Despite the delays, the new facility is being utilized. Several classes are being taught in the new classrooms and most of the digital equipment will be ready for students by the end of February.

“Right now the facility is usable and by the first week of February, professor Criado’s class will be making a full live-to-tape video,” Houston said.

The digital newsroom will allow students to become acquainted with the equipment and atmosphere that major television stations have.

“It is going to be an awesome training facility,” journalism professor Carrie Criado said. “SMU is going to be poised to be in a great position for teaching broadcast news and journalism and we are really not that far behind schedule.”

One reason for the delay is because SMU has ensured that every aspect of the studio meets the highest standards. The department has hired the best architects and engineers to make sure that the studio meets all the necessary technical requirements.

Charles Pantuso, one of the current engineers of the newsroom, has helped design studios for CBS’s broadcasts of the 1992, 1994 and 1998 Winter Olympic Games. He said that designing this facility was very different from his past projects.

“It only takes about four months to build an entire Olympic village, but I’ve enjoyed working on this studio,” Pantuso said. “It has ended up taking longer, but I get to wire and do other things on this project I haven’t done in awhile.”

Many broadcast journalism students who have not had a class in the new building are eager to experience the finished product.

“I’m really anxious for the hands-on experience,” Farrar Johnson, a sophomore broadcast journalism major said. “It will give us a chance to see how a real newsroom works, and we won’t just be reading about it now, but actually doing it.”

With the constant change in technology, SMU can expect this newsroom to undergo many adjustments. The department has been working hard to finish it, but Judy Stratton, the administrative assistant of the journalism division, said this is the way newsrooms operate.

“Major news stations are never complete due to the technological changes,” Stratton said. “Yes, it is not completed now, but we are building on it. You have to ask yourself . . . Is SMU complete?”

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