Plan to merge media programs in works

Keiran Sheridan, Staff Writer

Plans to combine the publications and TV production programs in the near future commenced last week when Assistant Principal Jim Melia asked for a quote on the drawings of a newsroom, complete with a new TV productions studio in Room 3-101. The plan is to merge the publications program, which includes newspaper and yearbook classes with the TV productions program in order to create a media program that reflects the industry more closely.

“A few years ago, Mr. Fleming and I sat down to create a plan to start to merging all the journalism programs to replicate how it is done in real news corporations,” publications adviser Mark Schledorn said. “When we were able to convince the school board to allow us to have a website, it opened this option up. Now we want to get video on the website. Eventually, if we can afford the equipment, we would want the morning announcements to be on the website instead of just on the school TVs.”

If the conversion is made, the TV production program would be able to get the equipment required to do this.

“Right now when you watch our news, it is played off VHS tapes. Go out in the stores and try to find a VHS player, it’s nearly impossible,” Melia said. “People are starting to use everything to digital and Blu Ray, so we are a little articulated when it comes to the technology in our TV productions studio. If we made the change, we would try to bump it up to being all digital.”

This not only would allow video from TV productions to be streamed onto the website, but it would also benefit the program in state journalism competitions.

“As of now, we are not competitive with other schools due to our outdated equipment. If we were able to modernize our materials, we would be able to be on the same level as some other schools,” TV productions teacher Maria Sotolongo said. “In the long run, it would be exceedingly beneficial for both media outlets to work together and build off each other’s resources.”

If the combination plan were implemented, Room 10-101, the current TV production studio in the media center, would be transformed into a computer lab. Consequently, Room 3-101, a general-use computer lab, would be converted into a newsroom.

“We can’t afford to lose a computer lab. If we were to go through with this plan, the room in the media center would have to be converted into a computer lab. It is already wired for computers, so this would be an easy switch,” Melia said. “The more challenging part would be converting the other classroom into a news room.”

The furniture, such as tables and chairs, would be transferred from 3-103 into the Media Center, and according to Melia, there would virtually be no additional furniture costs. On the other hand, to convert 3-103 into a newsroom would be costly.

“The big thing about the switch would be whether or not we would build a new structure, such as a TV studio, inside the classroom. It would be very expensive to put in a sound proof booth or something of that nature in there, so we just don’t know what exactly is going to happen yet,” Melia said.

Because merging publications and TV productions would be a large project, the construction of a newsroom and the relocation of computers would happen over the summer. When students come back in the fall, the new set up would create some differences in the media programs.

“It’s possible that the media, one being TV productions and one being publications could be merged together with maybe two teachers overseeing a larger number of students,” Melia said. “I think with new video equipment and technology, the things our kids could do would be tremendous.”

If the two programs were combined, the set up of the media programs would allow students to work in an environment that more closely resemble that of the evolving modern media.

“If you work at Florida Today, you are going to shoot video, you are going to take pictures and you are going to write captions and write from the field. Everybody has to do everything. That’s backpack journalism; that’s the 21st century,” Schledorn said.