Where USF faculty, students and graduates are invited to talk about journalism and its problems and opportunities. This blog is not affiliated with the University of San Francisco, nor is the university responsible for any of the opinions expressed herein -- though it is certainly responsible for the people who entertain those opinions, having educated them. They make us proud.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Television Journalism at USF, or Welcome to the Great Steaming Dungpile

Ah, that got your attention, which was the point. That is, unfortunately, the lesson of so much modern media, both news and quasi-news. Hit 'em between the eyes with the tease, the lie, the exaggeration to stop 'em from wandering off. There's so much to see and so much to read -- it would sometimes seem that the world of "information" in the 21st Century has become one big pimp slap.

So what *is* this post about? It's about teaching TV journalism at USF. In a little bit I'll share some excerpts from an email from Vicky Nguyen, who is one of a handful of USF grads working in TV news. We already have an Alternative Media post/string started by Vrinda Normand. Now we can have a TV journalism post/string, where comments about that area of endeavor at USF can collect. But (he digressed) the moderately pungent headline does reflect the fact that one of the things that could get this forum going would be a post or comment ripping the head off the current journalism program at USF and sticking it on a pole. That is to say, people do like fire and they do like controversy. A sufficiently acid post from a past or present student would probably get forwarded to others connected with USF, bringing in readers and eliciting responses. I am not encouraging you to go all Geraldo or Hunter on us, cranking it up just for the sake of the noise. But once again I am encouraging you to share this URL, particularly with those friends who are not too sure their journalism courses at USF were an unalloyed blessing. Perhaps, complaints would inspire rebuttal. Complaint/rebuttal and so on and so on: That's the law of the jungle in blogworld, is it not? (For a comic look at how certain kinds of media promote controversy at the expense of sweet reason, click here.) All posts and comments welcome. If things get too spirited, I can pull the plug at any time.

A TV journalism thread may well bring out my masochism because no one would deny that preparing students for careers in TV news has not been our strength. We have not claimed it was for a very long time, not since David Thomson left the building, so this is not a mea culpa. And enough of our students have become TV journalists-- through their own initiative, working the local TV internship opportunities with persistence and tactical skill and, let us hope, inspired by USF's devoted and charismatic faculty -- to make us feel rather more proud than ashamed when it comes to this topic. All that said, if we are going to put together a real major, this is the place where we need to make strides. Given our limited resources, a journalism major must combine print and broadcast; that is, students from both groups will have to take the same basic courses. I was pleased that Vicky suggested print is good background for TV. I've argued that for years -- I mean, I would, wouldn't I? -- but I am pleased when someone agrees who's making a go of TV journalism. But maybe Vicky is just being nice!!! The point is that going forward with a journalism major means we have to make smart decisions about what TV news courses to add, which to require, what equipment we need, what facilities we need, how much print to put in the mix. Here is where some of you, both those who've tried TV and those still in that game -- have things to say we want to hear and, in fact, we need to hear. This is a long premable to Ms. Nguyen's remarks!

Here they are:

I'm at the Fox station in Phoenix these days, working as a GA reporter. I've been here since Jan 2004. Really like the news market. Very rock and roll, fast-paced, breaking news-oriented. Not so high brow, issues-driven as the SF market though. It's good to see different ends of the spectrum.

Anyway, it's hard to say whether USF should go broadcast or not. If there's enough demand, why not? There's plenty of stations in the Bay for internship experience. I don't know about specifics with curriculum but I know here at ASU's Cronkite School, local reporters/anchors go in and speak during some of the courses. Some also teach. They have their own newscast and students get to do a lot of different things on and off camera. Some of the interns we get are pretty sophisticated, some aren't, but they definitely have a leg up that I didn't have when I was in school.

The USF Foghorn was a great paper when I was in school--I think those who want to pursue journalism seriously should be required to write a bit for the paper so they get to see the print side and develop an understanding for story telling and deadlines. If we had a broadcast side with the right video equipment, editing stuff etc, and could put out some sort of broadcast newscast, that would be ideal.

Forum people. Do you have questions for her?

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