Aspiring TV news journalists at St. Bonaventure University are now getting the kind of exposure they didn’t think they’d get until after their college careers.
SBU-TV News is now being broadcast to most Time Warner Cable customers in Western New York, reaching approximately 250,000 homes, according to Paul Wieland, an instructor in the Russell J. Jandoli School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
“I think the most gratifying thing about this is that the students are even more excited about doing the news, especially the kids from the Buffalo area whose family and friends now have the chance to see them on the air,” said Wieland.
The half-hour newscast first airs Fridays at 3 p.m. on the campus television station (SBU-TV) and then goes in DVD format to Time Warner offices in Buffalo for airing the following week on their WNY cable systems.
The newscast is on SBU-TV Campus Channel 9: Airing daily at 7 a.m., & at 3, 7 & 10 p.m. and may also be viewed on YouTube.
The student journalists don’t restrict their news scope to campus, Wieland said.
“To make it in this business you have to be out there, doing good stories,” he said. “The students work very hard on content; the newscast isn’t just about Bona’s. We had a really good series last year on crystal meth labs in Cattaraugus County, and we’re starting to work on stories about drunk driving enforcement and the loss of doctors in Cattaraugus County over the last five years.
“The seniors especially want to get out and do real-world stories because they know it can only help their resumes. We had a student hired right out of school last year without even being interviewed just from the station seeing the tape of a story she did.”
Students get plenty of credit for their efforts — credits, to be exact. The newscast is actually a class, J/MC 440: Seminar in Broadcast Journalism. But students can take it as many times as they like, incorporating everything they’ve learned in previous journalism classes into the production of the weekly newscast.
“To make the experience as real-world as possible, every student is treated like they are working at a news station,” Wieland said. “We’re tough on them, but everyone is fair game, even me.”
The student newscast is supplemented by a contractual agreement with CNN, allowing the University to use raw footage to augment stories they are working on, or to use complete segments as stand-alone features. In turn, SBU-TV agrees to share footage with CNN if the network needs video to supplement a story it’s working on.
“These students will be covering Bona and the region down here as never before,” Wieland said. “I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for them and great exposure for our journalism school.”