The Cameron University Communication Department has entered a brave new frontier of student media with the launch of AggieCentral.com, a convergence journalism website. AggieCentral combines the skill-sets of radio/television and print journalism students to bring a unified digital media format for news coverage to the CU campus. Consisting of stories updated regularly from student-produced media including The Collegian and CUTV, the site provides a central location for students, faculty, staff, alumni and members of the community to catch up on the latest happenings at Cameron.
"AggieCentral is a portal where the essential journalistic skills of broadcasters and print reporters can be put on display," says Dr. Christopher Keller, Associate Professor of Journalism and Faculty Adviser to both AggieCentral and The Collegian, Cameron's student-run newspaper. "It combines all of the excellent reporting done by both CUTV and The Collegian in a single, easily accessed location."
The addition of AggieCentral to the Communication Department's student-produced media provides additional hands-on experience to Cameron students in a career field that is constantly evolving due to the ever-changing world of technology.
"Cameron students are getting an opportunity to be involved at the ground level in planning and implementing where our field is taking us," says Keller. "Industry-wide, the world does not know what journalism will look like 20 or even 10 years from now. This convergence is happening, and we just have to be ready to change as new technologies emerge."
AggieCentral is the culmination of two years of research and planning by Keller and his colleagues in the Communication Department, Dr. Gil Hernandez, Dr. Matt Jenkins and Steve Adams. In developing the site, they enlisted the assistance of several CU students as well as a non-profit organization named CoPress.
Funding for the project was provided through a $250,000 grant from the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, allowing for the purchase of multimedia backpacks that house laptops, video cameras, tripods and wireless equipment. Each student can use the laptop, camcorder and microphone to write a story and upload the video and audio to the Web site immediately.
"We then worked on creating a content management system from which we could converge our three areas: radio, television and journalism," Keller explains. "That's why Dr. Jenkins and Mr. Adams are so integral. Dr. Jenkins brings his video editing skills and Mr. Adams brings his audio editing and broadcast skills. Combine that with Jenkins' and Adams' amazing teaching abilities, and a true convergent media program is born."
Students involved with AggieCentral.com had their first real test of using the site to publish digital news with the dedication of the McMahon Centennial Complex (MCC), Cameron's new state-of-the-art student union. Radio/television students Michael Faggett, Aly Knerr, Kyle Luetters and Jennyann Roig recorded the entire ceremony and had video uploaded to the site within minutes of the closing. Collegian editors Jim Horinek and Joshua Rouse took pictures and wrote content for the site, and Luetters also recorded a podcast on-site and interviewed several students as the event was happening, giving the Cameron student body up-to-date coverage in real time.
"The website is perfect for covering events like the MCC opening," Keller says. "We can go out there with our portable technologies, set up and have everything uploaded to AggieCentral as it's happening. In using these tools and covering these events live, our students are not only broadening their knowledge base, but they are gaining valuable skills that will serve them well when they enter the workforce. AggieCentral.com is another example of how we as a campus are maintaining curriculum currency in our respective fields and providing amazing, interactive learning opportunities for our students."
April 27, 2010