Partnership Results in New Student Resource

A partnership between the Arkansas Tech University Department of Communication and Journalism and the ATU Office of Athletic Communications is creating enhanced opportunities for broadcast journalism students. 

A new mobile production unit enabled a team of Arkansas Tech students to take the video that appeared on the big screen inside Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field during the 2017 season and stream it to fans around the state, nation and world via YouTube and Facebook Live.

“The difference in quality is immediately visible just by looking at last year’s productions and comparing them to this year,” said Taylor Gamez, a student in the ATU Master of Arts in multimedia journalism degree program and the leader of the student crew. “It’s incredible. Not only is it easier to produce a high-quality stream, but it’s also so much more educational and interactive. Every station helps train students in the sports broadcasting medium, which will pay off if they pursue a career in this field. This is something I could truly see myself doing in my career, and the fact that I have the opportunity to work with Arkansas Tech in this way is honestly such a blessing. I am very thankful.”

The Arkansas Tech Department of Athletic Communications reports there were 51,831 views of Wonder Boys’ football games online during the five live streams in 2017. That is approximately 14 times more views than 2016, when the total streaming viewership for five home games was 3,707.

“When I arrived at Arkansas Tech, we looked at our technology needs in the football press box and in the video booth,” said Paul Smith, associate director of athletics and director of athletic communications at ATU. “Our video booth was obsolete and needed to be replaced. We started looking at what it was going to cost to re-outfit the booth, and in conversations we realized that it would not be that much more expensive to have a mobile unit that could serve multiple purposes for athletics and on the academic side.”

A partnership was born soon after. The ATU Department of Athletics and the ATU Department of Communication and Journalism received funding from the institution to purchase a custom video production trailer for the purposes of providing broadcast journalism students with training in live production on industry-standard equipment.

Jason Moyer, a 2010 broadcast journalism graduate of Arkansas Tech and the owner of JBM Productions, lent his expertise to the project to ensure the trailer would adequately prepare students for real-world opportunities.

“We have a great resource with Jason,” said Smith. “He connected us with cutting-edge, top-of-the-line equipment that is going to put our students a step ahead of a broadcast journalism graduate from another institution.”

Anthony Caton, head of the ATU Department of Communication and Journalism, associate professor of journalism and director of broadcasting, has noticed the change in quality as well.

“It puts Arkansas Tech on the level of a NCAA Division I institution in terms of the programming,” said Caton. “The production is of a quality similar to what you would see on that level.”

Christie White serves as broadcast production specialist and visiting lecturer of journalism in the ATU Department of Communication and Journalism. She explained that the live game production helps prepare students for a variety of career experiences, including producing live news reports from the field.

“It helps develop so many valuable skill sets,” said White. “Any time our students can gain experience with live programming, shooting video and editing video, it’s a plus for them.”

In short, every touchdown, every tackle, every instant replay and every image of cheering Arkansas Tech fans shown during the live streams is part of a laboratory for broadcast journalism.

“Everything we do is an academic opportunity,” said Smith. “It’s a chance to give students hands-on experience they might not get somewhere else. From where I stand, that’s the most important part of what I do.”