Rutgers journalism department may reinstate its television production course
Currently, students who are not part of RU-TV do not have access to a professional studio environment
The Department of Journalism and Media Studies has historically produced graduates who have met success in careers with major broadcasting networks like CNN, Fox News and ESPN. But currently, the University does not offer a course where students can practice television reporting in an actual studio.
Notable Rutgers Journalism and Media Studies graduates who have gone on to work in television studios include Natalie Morales, who works as an anchor for the "Today Show" and appears on "Dateline NBC" and "NBC Nightly News." Also included on this list are Lauren Sisler, who was a three-time Alabama Sportscaster of the Year award winner, and Julia Palazzo, who graduated last May and immediately got a job at the ABC-affiliate in South Bend, Indiana.
The school used to have a television production course — first in the School of Communication and Information building and then on Livingston campus located in the Office of Television and Radio, said Steve Miller, director of Undergraduate Studies in Journalism and Media Studies.
In addition to the television production class, there was an advanced class where students were able to work in a professional studio at Rutgers — which produced an Emmy Award-winning show, "Rutgers Forum," he said.
He said the School of Communication and Information decided to change the television production course to television reporting, which would not require the purchase of expensive recording equipment.
Since then, students have worked for RU-tv independently, Miller said. Students’ experience with television production has been a result of their own initiative and has resulted in wide-ranging employment opportunities after graduation.
“One of the great things that has happened since the 2000s is RU-tv,” he said. “The combination of RU-tv and our courses and in recent years, the addition of R-Vision and the Big Ten Network for the people who do sports has enabled our students to become amazingly successful immediately after they graduate from college.”
Even with RU-tv, the School of Communication and Information recognizes the need for a formal TV production course for journalism students, Miller said. Dean Jonathan Potter — who came to the School of Communication and Information three years ago — has been discussing the necessary steps to implementing such a course.
The major obstacles to implementing the course are the cost of instruments and finding a proper space for a studio that will emulate professional studios of major broadcast networks, he said.
“We’ve been trying for years to get space, to get funding and to find a way to get a studio,” Miller said. “We have felt for years and years and years that it's a hole in our curriculum.”
The school needs to work toward this goal in order to remain competitive, especially among Big Ten universities who do offer TV production courses, he said.
The Rutgers iTV Studio on Livingston campus used to teach television production courses in conjunction with the School of Communication and Information, previously known as Journalsim and Urban Communications, said Peter Troost, assistant director of Broadcast Operations at the iTV Studio in an email.
The iTV Studio offers "Broadcast Television Production Courses" during the summer sessions, he said.
There does seem to be a trend away from studio production and toward lower budget production that relies on small cameras, Miller said. Growing technology has produced cheaper and superior cameras in smaller and smaller sizes with reporters even opting to film on their smartphones
"We should be working with whatever we can to provide this for our students," Miller said. "We will reach out to whatever entity is there in order to facilitate this. Whether we are successful or not, only time will tell. But our record speaks for itself."
Editor's Note: This article has been updated to include information from the Rutgers University iTV Studio.
Gabriela Amaral is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in political science. She is a staff writer for The Daily Targum. See more on Twitter @sentientfog