Mock News Conference Unveils Academic Commons Campaign

by AggieCentral Staff

Breaking news: Cameron students, faculty and staff converge for the announcement of the new Academic Commons, which will help pave the way for the newest form of journalism. The Cameron Collegian and CUTV come together to provide Cameron with the newest form of news coverage – a converged media format.

Work will begin on the creation of the CU Academic Commons this summer. This facility, which will be housed in the building that was previously the Clarence Davis Student Union, is designed to benefit all students. With computer labs, classrooms and a tutoring center, the new area will be of great use to the students of CU.

However, there is also another segment of the student population that will directly benefit from the Academic Commons: those students are the members of Cameron’s journalism program. With the help of a retrofitted food court area and several other upgrades, the new Academic Commons will also play home to Cameron’s addition to its convergent journalism program.

The convergence of news media is something that has been a hot topic in the field of journalism for quite some time now. The principle behind the idea of convergence calls for a streamlining of the once separate fields of print and broadcast media.

Dr. Christopher Keller, Associate Professor of Communication and Adviser to the Cameron Collegian and AggieCentral, said it is really anybody’s guess what the future of journalism in the world will look like, but that most professionals and academians believe converging technologies will be central to whatever reporting looks like 20 years from now.

“Both the news industry and the professors studying the news industry are working through the impact of Web 2.0 technologies and mobile media toolsets,” Dr. Keller said. “As technology changes, so too does the media message that technology carries. The media we use are changing the way we report information. No more can there be just a print journalist or just a broadcast journalist. We have to converge to survive.”

Mock News Conference for Academic Commons Event from Aggie Central on Vimeo.

Students, faculty, staff and CU administrators work to prepare for the mock news conference that kicked off the Academic Commons Announcement Friday, April 1, in McCasland Ballroom.

At Cameron, the idea of converging media has been on the minds of those in charge of managing and structuring the curriculum of journalism students for quite some time now. A few years ago, discussions began about changing the current curriculum and course structures to reflect the changes that are taking place in the way in which news is gathered, packaged and disseminated.

However, prior to the advent of the new Academic Commons, there has still existed a disconnect between the different forms of news media and journalism curriculum on campus. For example, the students who participate in the production of CUTV are separated from those students who take part in the production of the Collegian. This separation is the result of both classroom location and curriculum. However, the creation of the Academic Commons solves the issue of separation.

“With the creation of this new Convergence Journalism complex in the Academic Commons, the Radio and Television side of our program will be brought together, physically, with the Print Journalism side,” Dr. Keller said. “We are going to be able to work as a single newsbody and produce content that is both digital and print-based, video as well as text. It is truly remarkable.”

Michael Faggett has been a part of the journalism program at Cameron since he started here as a freshman. As a continual member of the CUTV cast and a Collegian editor he understands the need for a converged approach to teaching journalism at CU. Faggett took part in the event Friday that was held to showcase the potential that a converged journalism program can offer to CU journalism students. A mock news conference was created in the McCasland Ballroom of the McMahon Centennial Complex, and more than 150 people attended to see the unveiling of the Academic Commons fundraising campaign.

“The event shows Cameron is making innovations academically,” Faggett said. “Not only are we introducing a new building, but we’re introducing a new academic opportunity on campus.”

President Ross, who joined Faggett in presenting the new age of news media to the attendees of the Academic Commons unveiling, feels that the new student area will be extremely beneficial to students for many different reasons.

“The Academic Commons is an important next step in continuing to be the University of Choice,” President Ross said. “When complete, the Academic Commons will join the McMahon Centennial Complex, University Library and McMahon Fine Arts Complex to form a core of centrally located buildings with extended hours of operation to better serve our students and the community.”

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