Letters to the Editor: EMDA reaction

A strong program

It’s been almost a year since I graduated from GW’s electronic media program, and I’m sad to see that the ridiculous task force has finally come out and said what EMda students and faculty have been sensing for years: “We don’t give a damn about you.”

This panel consisted of political communication and journalism “experts” and staff of the School of Media and Public Affairs. Where were those who could have fairly represented EMda, I ask? Or does the department simply preach objectivity in its courses and ignore it in reality?

If journalism professor Al May really wants SMPA to “focus the school on an area of excellence where it can really achieve a national ranking,” it should continue on with the electronic media program. Our students are winning local and national awards, including prizes at the Ivy League Film Festival and the first ever Larry King Scholarships. We’re going on to graduate programs at nationally recognized institutions like Florida State and Harvard universities. The Fiske Guide to Colleges lists electronic media as one of GW’s top programs. How could that, in any way, be hurting the national ranking? Perhaps if we received more support from SMPA instead of being banished to the corner, resulting in a loss of faculty members and our sorely missed former director, David Liban, the school would realize how valuable our contributions are.

“We doubt that the offering of an undergraduate major that is so heavily centered on production skills per se represents either a mission-compatible dimension of SMPA teaching or a best use of the available facilities.” So the report states. I wonder how they came to this conclusion, seeing as how its panel neglected to include anyone from the program. Did they interview alumni? Did they talk to current students? Or did they just make invalid assumptions about an excellent program that provides immensely valuable production and theory skills to all of its students. Last spring, I spoke with the director of Boston University’s television management master’s program. She told me that by taking one electronic media course at GW – “Media Management” – I had overqualified myself for their entire master’s degree curriculum. I’d say that EMda is doing one hell of a job if it’s capable of outdoing one of the top media programs in the country at a graduate level.

This is not the right move for SMPA to make. Our very own executive vice president for academic affairs, Donald Lehman, stated, “I never really thought we should be a traditional journalism school.” I couldn’t agree more. There is absolutely a way for journalism, political communication and electronic to coexist; it’s simply the SMPA administration that is too stuffy and unwilling to recognize the creative force and talent that is the electronic media program. Future EMda students should not be denied the opportunity to use the facilities and equipment that have been so valuable to current majors and alumni simply because some faculty have the notion that SMPA has to be the training ground for CNN. I don’t need a task force to show you that SMPA is already a training ground for journalists, politicos and media producers, and I think it’s working out just fine.

Devon Elye Tutak
alumna, Class of 2003

Narrow-minded decision

I was shocked and dismayed to hear through the grapevine that the School of Media and Public Affairs will be phasing out the electronic media program at GW. As a former EMda student, I feel that this decision affects not only prospective students, but current students as well. The phasing out of the EMda program signifies GW’s narrow-minded view in terms of media.

The electronic media program, on the fifth floor of the SMPA building, was a home away from home for many of us. During my career there, I expanded not only academically, but creatively as well. During my last two years there, I felt something of a renaissance that had never before been seen. At the 2003 SMPA Showcase, numerous EMda students’ media projects displayed the vitality of the program. For many of us, EMda was not a bunch of classes, but a passion.

However, the videos and other projects that so many of us made will now be forgotten, forever. Yes, it is true that the EMda program never was focused on producing news reports or covering political events. Yet the program did allow for a few young individuals to flourish creatively in the realm of moving images. Many of these individuals have since moved on to become directors, producers and screenwriters in the entertainment industry, myself included. I remember that when the discussion on the EMda program first started, one of the leading SMPA heads declared that film was not media. To me, that is not an academic opinion, but a narrow-minded one. Shame on GW and its decision.

Matt Rosen
alumnus, Class of 2003

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