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

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
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Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024
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Students To Converge In New Newsroom

When students returned to the journalism department this fall, they expected a new state-of-the-art convergence newsroom. Instead, they arrived to a work zone with yellow tape roping off an empty room filled with construction materials.

Belo Distinguished Chair of the Division of Journalism Tony Pederson said that the construction was to begin in June. However, it started mid-July.

“Of course, it’s no surprise that things on a college campus run a little bit behind,” Pederson said. “It was supposed to be ready before school and the construction that we were given was about five weeks.”

The final two construction steps include the millwork and ceiling. Desks will be built into the walls, and the ceiling will contain a lighting grid. The plan is to have students working in the new room by the end of this week.

“It’s the ceiling where we ran into a little bit of trouble with the air conditioning ducts,” Pederson said.

The newsroom will contain three televisions and a ten-foot ticker that provides the most up-to-the-minute news. Multiple computer terminals will also be available for student use. Lights and a camera will be suspended from the ceiling allowing a single student the opportunity to conduct a quick interview without firing up the studio. Throw in a flash set, and you have a state-of-the-art convergence newsroom.

The cost of construction, furnishings, and equipment total about $200,000. The funds were raised over the past several years.

Ann Wyatt Little, a recent SMU journalism graduate, wishes she had these resources available to her. She believes that the opportunity to be in an environment where you can do everything on your own is where the profession is going.

“The ability to bring all of the different aspects of journalism together to create one great product is incredible,” she said.

The new lab replaces an area which contained cubicles, a dry erase board for signing up to crew The Daily Update, the student produced daily newscast shown on SMU-TV, and the home of smudailydata.com.

The website recently got a facelift and a name change. Recently hired Jake Batsell is in charge of The Daily Mustang. Batsell joined the SMU faculty after working in convergence media for The Dallas Morning News.

“We are trying to establish a real time newsroom environment that is multiplatform,” Batsell said. “It is designed to prepare journalists for the real world of converging newsrooms.”

He plans to help students tackle the news of the day in a convergent way.

The next step is converting to high definition equipment. While few colleges are hi-def at the moment, Pederson feels that being behind on technology isn’t acceptable.

The convergence of media is the idea that web, print and video can all be combined to create a more interactive news experience.

“We are teaching students to develop professional content for delivery across multiple media platforms, and it’s a venue that can do that very easily,” Pederson said of the new newsroom.

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