Journalists converge in Commons
Separation used to be the best way to describe student media at Johnson County Community College.
Broadcast journalism students produced the monthly JCAV News and weekly Campus Updates in the TV studio in the Billington Library. ECAV Radio, the college’s online radio station, had a home in the Commons Building, while the student newspaper, The Campus Ledger, had its own office in the Commons.
The separation meant that JCCC student journalists didn’t work together very often.
Starting in August, The Campus Ledger’s office on the mezzanine level of the Commons became the Student News Center, a newsroom for all three groups of student journalists. It also serves as a classroom and video editing lab for broadcasting and video students.
The ECAV office, also on the mezzanine level of the Commons, became the classroom for broadcast and video classes, as well as a new radio production class that was introduced this month.
The move reflects a journalism trend that emerged about the time the Internet started gaining traction as a 24/7 news source accommodating words, video and audio in the early to mid-2000s. Known as convergence, the trend encourages journalists to use whatever means they need to tell their story. The same story might be reported as an ink-on-paper print story, as a video online or aired on television, and as audio clips on a radio broadcast or embedded in a web story.
After a semester of convergence, leaders of the three student media outlets are starting to see its potential.
“We’re finding ways we can all have some hand in what the others are doing,” said Joshua Browning, the station manager for ECAV Radio.
He meets weekly with Rachel Kimbrough, editor in chief of The Campus Ledger, and Amy Follmer, executive producer for JCAV.
Convergence has had its bumps – “sometimes it feels like we’re throwing a kink in the gears when it should feel more like we’re expanding the mechanism,” Kimbrough said – but the three leaders said they’re making progress.
Kimbrough’s goal this semester is to have reporters write ECAV news briefs to go with the stories they write for The Ledger, and to have at least one JCAV story featured in each issue, as well.
JCAV has shifted its format to accommodate convergence, as well. The production began as a monthly news magazine but now focuses on individual segments that are timelier, Follmer said. The goal is to have reports ready to air weekly, she said.
In addition to an online presence on YouTube, JCAV segments are shown on the college’s cable channel and on digital sign monitors around campus.
ECAV, which is an Internet radio station, has used content produced for JCAV sports videos to create a radio sports show, as well.The three news outlets share an advertising sales manager and a webmaster for a shared website. Each also has its own website.