SMPA’s ‘The Source’ canceled due to lack of enrollment

Correction appended

The Source, a weekly television show produced by students in the School of Media and Public Affairs, was canceled this spring after the class tasked with creating the show did not meet the minimum number of students needed to produce it.

Students enrolled in SMPA 137 – Broadcast News Studio Production – and SMPA 139 – Television News Practicum – produced the show in previous years, but SMPA 139 did not reach its minimum enrollment for the 2010 spring semester, professor Roxanne Russell said. SMPA 137 is not offered in the spring.

“I was startled this semester when only five students enrolled. We need ten to produce the show properly, and five is clearly inadequate,” Russell said in an e-mail.

Matt Saunders, who graduated from SMPA in 2007 and worked with GWTV during his years at GW, said during his tenure he relied on The Source for hands-on experience.

“The Source provided GWTV with consistent weekly programming for up to 20 weeks a year. It was stable and reliable,” Saunders said. “I can’t tell you how hard it is to program 24 hours a day, and knowing you can count on a new episode of The Source was comforting – even if it was only a 15-minute show.”

Though The Source is aired on GWTV – channel six on campus televisions – it is produced by SMPA students in classes, not the student organization itself. The classes give students the opportunity to edit and produce a news program from start to finish, forcing them to use all of their broadcasting skills, Russell said.

Senior Joseph Rendeiro took both classes three times and said having a variety of skills to draw upon will be important for students hoping to succeed in a field of changing journalism.

“I would’ve assumed that more journalism majors would want to sign up for broadcast and online classes considering how much journalism is shifting toward a more multimedia format,” Rendeiro said.

He also said it is important for students to learn broadcast skills if they want to be good candidates for future employers.

“We need to know more than just how to write if we want to make ourselves marketable, and The Source is such a great opportunity to learn new skills and build a portfolio,” Rendeiro said.

Despite the cancelation of SMPA 139, School of Media and Public Affairs Director Frank Sesno said he wants his school to pursue the changing world of broadcast journalism.

“These ‘new’ media outlets and expressions have worked to our favor because they have created new areas of study and our reputation as a rigorous liberal arts program positions us more favorably than a traditional journalism school,” Sesno said in an e-mail.

Sesno was a CNN special correspondent and spent 21 years there working as a news anchor, analyst and reporter. For seven years, he hosted the Late Edition with Frank Sesno.

Russell said that The Source will return next fall – if enough students sign up – and until then the show will be produced less frequently and will not be live. Russell and interested students are considering producing the show in their spare time.

“There will be a ‘Source’. Just not every week,” she said. “The Source isn’t dead.”

The article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Based on information from CNN’s Web site, the article erroneously stated that Sesno is a CNN special correspondent and spent 17 years at CNN working as a news anchor, analyst and reporter. In fact, Sesno is no longer with CNN and spent a total of 21 years at there.

The same article erroneously stated that that both SMPA 137 and 139 were under-enrolled during the spring semester. In fact, SMPA 137 is not offered as a course during the spring semester.

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