The first time I saw the television control room in the Media and Public Affairs building, I was completely blown away. The facility is better than the one at MSNBC in D.C. and certainly one of the best in the entire city – including FOX News Channel and CNN.
I have worked for ABC, CNN, FOX and NBC in D.C. I am currently working for CNN on “Crossfire” at GW. As a GW graduate I take pride in the facilities GW has to offer its students.
At the same time, I am shocked how little the facilities are used by the students. After speaking to a couple of administrators in the School of Media and Public Affairs, I was informed that there is a lack of interest by the students to produce regular programming. Producing public affairs (news and talk show) programs is not rocket science. The most difficult challenge is showing up week after week prepared to put it together. The administrators say the students become disenchanted when their product does not look exactly like network-level programs. Furthermore, the students loose interest three-fourths of the way through the semester. This is pathetic.
This is a call to action for SMPA students. You need to get off your butts and make proposals to the University for student-produced programs. Take some initiative. Learn from Syracuse University, which distributes television-like programming via the Internet, and use them as a model. There is no reason that students can not produce a weekly news and information program.
With the equipment and facilities at your disposal, this could easily be one of the top electronic media programs in the country. At the same time, D.C. is a major media production city. Some of the top, if not the top, public affairs professionals call Washington home. With a little prodding, you could get tips, guest lectures and guidance from the top professionals in the country. Can Syracuse say that?
Take some cues for hot stories from The Hatchet. The mini-DV cameras owned by the University have great low-light capabilities. They are perfect for shooting reports from bars, restaurants, nightclubs and parties under natural light or minimal additional lighting. You have to produce content that people want to see. “Hot Spots for Hookups” would be a segment people would want to see. Take advantage of human vanity and give students their Warholian 15 minutes of fame. What do students in the most powerful city in the world do on weekends?
It is up to you guys to make something happen. The more coverage the SMPA gets, the more valuable your degree becomes. Produce good content and the viewers will come.
-The writer is a GW graduate (’85) and currently works on CNN’s “Crossfire.”