GWTV back on air, but faces leadership, funding problems

GWTV may be back on the air, but that doesn’t mean the student organization is back on track.

Two years ago GWTV was a student organization producing original content by students with the aid of faculty advisors. For the first six weeks of classes this year, channel six was a blank screen.

Some former members of GWTV blame the University, and say with increased support, the television station could be top-notch. Others say a lack of student commitment is the problem.

GWTV came back onto the air with the show “The Source” this weekend. The program is a student-produced news show by a University class. Besides “The Source,” there is no indication that any other programming is lined up for GWTV.

Earlier this month GWTV President Jelena Zupan, a senior, stepped down after three years being a member of GWTV and leading the organization since the spring. She said she saw no commitment by the University to help the organization.

“I got the point where I’m putting in a lot of work; I’m providing free labor for people who don’t care about our work,” she said. “GWTV is not getting the support it needs.”

University officials said they are disappointed with the current state of GWTV.

“I’m in favor of GWTV,” said University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg. “It’s not a matter of love – it’s a matter of resources.”

“It’s always disappointing when any aspect of the University is not top-ranked,” he said.

GWTV has received funding from the Student Association in the past, but the organization did not request any money this year, according to the SA Finance Committee.

Trachtenberg pointed to the School of Media and Public Affairs’ recent hiring of long-time television reporter Frank Sesno as evidence that the University does have a commitment to teaching television production.

Doug Zimmerman was both an executive producer and member of GWTV for two years. He said the most glaring issue is the lack of student involvement and commitment.

“The goal of the GWTV was to create self-sufficient TV station, put out programming and create a forum for students to make programming,” he said. “There are resources for students to get their work out there. Resources are not the issue.”

He said when he joined GWTV two years ago the student organization had an infrastructure with two presidents who gave official positions and job duties to other members of the group. They had deadlines and high standards for creating original work, he said.

“Last year it all changed, and it became ‘show up if you can, if you can’t that’s fine,'” he said. “Shows will not get done with that mindset.”

Senior Alejandro Mongalo hosted the show “Glamour and Dirt” for about a year and a half.

“When I came in, GWTV was mediocre,” Mongalo said. “Once I started getting involved, I realized there really wasn’t any more support than what the students had for each other and that was a small group.”

Mongalo described the system as “every man for himself” and said if he wanted to get something done, he had to do it himself.

“I just worked the system and created my own little group, and that’s how I got my production up on the air.”

Mongalo also blames the University’s elimination of the electronic media major two years ago as a sign of GW’s lack of support for the program.

“We have a blank TV station because (GW) has discouraged things like electronic media,” he said.

Others say the major’s dissolution is only part of the problem.

“It really isn’t about funding, and it’s not about the major,” Zimmerman said. “It’s about creating incentive for students. What’s the motivation, other than to see my show on TV, for a student to work there?”

Zimmerman said SMPA provides camera and production equipment for GWTV to use and technicians are on hand to help with any problems.

Roxanne Russell, SMPA’s studio manager and associate professor of media and public affairs, is GWTV’s adviser.

“I am very enthusiastic about GW TV and hope to see it offering a wide variety of programs,” Russell wrote in an e-mail last week. “But its success depends on students being willing to devote time to it.”

Since resigning earlier this month, Zupan said she is unsure where the future of GWTV is. She said the organization has about 20 “interested students” but there are no regular meeting times or plans for programming.

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