The University often boasts about broadcasting CNN’s “Crossfire” nightly from its state-of-the-art Media and Public Affairs building. Officials tell prospective students tall tales of being able to experience broadcast journalism on campus, but the closest most students come to participating in broadcast television is volunteering to take tickets at the front door – a truly great learning experience.
Periodically, groups of students bring up the idea of a GW TV channel with student-produced programming, as organization GW-TV.com is currently doing. Only four floors up from “Crossfire” is an all-inclusive studio, complete with a control room. But only a handful of electronic media classes have access to the facility. The University is quick to remind these students that they cannot use the high-tech, barely used facilities outside of class, thus squandering what could be a great learning experience for hundreds of students and a valuable addition to student life on campus.
University officials seem opposed to the whole idea of student-produced programming streaming into the residence halls. Officials said students need to prove they have the staffing and time to run a full-time station, and even then they would have to provide their own equipment. Understanding that the equipment is expensive and should not be handed over to just anybody, why couldn’t a dedicated, serious group of students use the equipment, even to produce just one show a week, to start?
Administrators should remember they are charging students of the School of Media and Public Affairs upwards of $1,000 per year extra tuition to pay for the technology and the building – shouldn’t they be able to benefit from their expenditure? Currently, every student in the school pays the money, but fewer than 50 students get access to the technology each semester. Why should SMPA students pay the money when the administration will not let them use the facility toward which their money goes?
Officials tell The Hatchet they have no plans to launch a student-run station, but they should still allow and encourage students to create some programming to be aired. A GW television channel should start small, just to see if it will work logistically.
GW-TV.com, which is now planning to broadcast exclusively on the Web, should push to broadcast some of its content through GW cable, even if it cannot use the production facilities yet. This could start the ball rolling and help administrators realize they should open the facilities they bought to attract students to the school. Hopefully in the future, students will become active participants in creative broadcasting instead of passive contributors.