Students help produce D.C.-area public access show

GW students are on the air, and not just on GWTV.

Led by professor Roxanne Russell, a group of students in the School of Media and Public Affairs has produced a 30-minute television piece for the D.C.-area public access program, “The Inner Loop.” The show, which aired on WDCW yesterday, focused on the D.C. Metro system and its possible expansion to Tysons Corner and Dulles International Airport.

The show was an opportunity for students to cover issues external to GW while getting valuable camera, production and reporting experience, Russell said.

“It’s a fun thing for the students to do, and I always enjoy it because it’s the real world,” she said.

Each semester for the past three years, Russell has recruited students from her upper-level broadcast class to help produce a show for “The Inner Loop.” This class is also responsible for producing the only GW-originally produced program on GWTV, called “The Source.”

In past semesters, volunteers from the class have worked on shows discussing such local issues as immigration in Washington.

This fall, a group of about 10 students were assigned to various projects and production pieces, centering around the history and future of Washington transit. While some interviewed Fairfax County transportation officials, others rode the Metro, toting a camera, and interviewed patrons to get a sense of public opinion on the system.

The segment was produced by students, but WDCW chose to use its own director, makeup artist and host, Lillie Hamer.

Russell, who served as the executive producer, chose the topic of the show, wrote the master script and served as a fill-in for students who couldn’t complete certain parts of the project. She also helped students interview officials, some of whom were reluctant to speak with the student journalists.

This year, the group had particular trouble contacting Metro authorities, she said. Officials refused an interview because of a concern about a change in leadership in the organization, Russell said.

“We never had anyone from the Metro on tape to talk about the development,” senior Chris Barnett said.

Junior Toni Murphy, who rode the Metro interviewing patrons and gathering secondary footage, said this broadcast experience has been an essential hands-on part of her journalism education.

“It’s one thing to produce stuff for your school that’s only going to air in dorms,” Murphy said. “But it’s something else to produce a show that’s actually going to air on television.”

Equipment and production costs, as well as the host and makeup artist’s salaries, were funded entirely by WDCW. SMPA received a small compensation of several hundred dollars for the production.

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