Journalism students produce first multimedia projects

Nov 30, 2010 | General News, Liberal Arts

 Journalism isn’t dead.  It’s just changed delivery methods.  Louisiana Tech journalism students are now preparing for careers in a convergent media world where they will be competitive in print and a variety of electronic media formats. For the first time, students entering the journalism program produced final projects in JOUR 101 that included a print/online version of a story and a Soundslide, which included both audio interviews and photographs. Six of the best projects have been posted on the journalism department’s website and on the online version of The Tech Talk, the student run university newspaper. “This is a major step for our department in our continuing efforts to infuse multimedia into Tech’s journalism curriculum,” said Dr. Reginald Owens, chair of the journalism department. “Multimedia is the way of the news world now and we are a part of it. As the industry changes and puts more focus on multimedia to deliver news content, we will do the same. We, the staff and faculty, recognize the need to introduce our students to the latest multimedia techniques.” Arguably, no other discipline is dealing with a more rapid change in curriculum necessitated by technological innovations at the rate the journalism field is. Junior journalism student Amie Rolland, along with her lab partner, chemical engineering major Chrystal Ainsworth, did her multimedia project on the Zumba fitness craze sweeping the nation and Ruston’s volunteer Zumba instructor, a former lawyer from Mexico, Abril Rocio Armendariz-Diaz.  And while the project was challenging, Rolland said she is excited about the new and different ways to deliver the story to which she is being exposed. “Journalism is far from dying, and it is really just getting started at Louisiana Tech,” Rolland said.  “Keeping up with the constantly changing media is what journalism is all about, and at Tech there is something new to learn or be taught every day.” All students in the Journalism 101: Basic News Writing were required to produce a 500-750 word print version of a news or feature story and a 60-90 second Soundslide, including digital photographs and audio interviews.  Students used Audacity, a free program utilized by many professionals to create podcasts, for the audio portion of the projects. “This is a learning experience for all of us,” said Dr. Elizabeth Barfoot Christian, an assistant professor of journalism, who teaches the basic news writing course. “I want students exposed to the new technology while realizing the importance of ‘the story’ remains constant.  And no amount of bells and whistles of new gadgets and programs can fix the lack of a good, intriguing story.  That’s why it was important to me for them to produce a whole package—print, pictures, audio.” Senior photography/journalism student Ben Corda served as student assistant for the projects.  “I believe that the Tech journalism department is training upcoming journalists with the skills needed to compete in this ever-changing field,” Corda said. “The multimedia projects were a great step in the right direction, and I hope to see more of them in the future.” Owens, who teaches Journalism 102 Advanced News Writing, plans to follow up these Soundslide projects with a more advanced multimedia project this winter, in addition to adding more multimedia elements to The Tech Talk website.  Judith Roberts, a journalism instructor, also plans to incorporate a multimedia project into her sports writing course, being taught for the first time in the winter quarter.  “We just received a grant from the Student Technology Fee Board to further enhance our multimedia capabilities,” Owens said. “The journalism department and The Tech Talk have some exciting things coming.”