Students involved with the University of Oregon student-run television network, Duck TV, voiced concerns on Wednesday over the journalism school’s potential plans to reduce its studio size.
Around 58 students, mostly Duck TV members, attended the UO School of Journalism and Communication’s town hall event Wednesday afternoon, when SOJC Dean Juan-Carlos Molleda presented the department’s budget plan and took questions from the audience. Duck TV members said they were concerned with the size of the new studio in the school’s plan. Also, the department’s floor plan did not include a control room, which the Duck TV network uses to produce weekly shows to air on local television.
The plan comes as the SOJC faces a $1.9 million shortfall over the next two years, requiring the department to make significant cuts to balance its budget. Molleda said he feels the studio can be smaller.
“I believe that we are wasting space,” Molleda said. “The future has different technology, and everything is compact.”
During the meeting, Molleda projected a floor plan for the 2018-19 year in a powerpoint, displaying a downsized studio without a control room.
Currently, the control room is separated from the studio by a glass window. Molleda said he is considering moving the control room’s equipment to be in a room away from the studio, called the “social media control room,” to share it with where the SOJC would manage its social media. There, student producers would command the studio at a distance through monitors.
“When I went to newscast productions, [producers] were looking at monitors, they were not looking at what was going on in the studios,” Dean Molleda said.
As Dean Molleda answered questions, some students appeared unconvinced on how the school plans to fit a teleprompter, audio and light board, and main switchboard into a smaller, shared space.
“We have a collaboration space and a place for students to create all these ideas, but it doesn’t seem like we will have a place to go and make something from that,” said Kate Houston at the event. “We have a studio, but [in this plan] there is no control room where the cameras, or the lighting and audio works.”
Bella Manning, a UO senior and Duck TV sports producer, learned about the studio size reduction before the meeting. She got a look at the plans while working as a studio technician — her part-time job. The floor plan circulated among Duck TV members, prompting them to attend the town hall.
“The [current] control room has added so much value to my education, to my potential of being hired,” said Manning at the event. She aspires to work for an ad agency production house after graduation. “We love the studio and want it to expand.”
Others shared concerns on what the SOJC’s budget-balancing would mean for UO students studying to enter the broadcast industry.
Dyuce Woodson, a network sports reporter and anchor, said he was concerned with an announcement Molleda made earlier that day: that the department could cut courses with low enrollment. Duck TV’s program advisor, Rebecca Force, is retiring at the end of the school year, and Woodson asked if department administrators would replace her position.
Molleda replied that they would find another faculty member to replace her role as an advisor for Duck TV.
Molleda said that his budget-balancing plan is up for modification, and is seeking advice from students. He urged Duck TV’s members to develop a proposal regarding the future of the SOJC studio and control room, and said that he is interested in delaying changes to the studio and control room for one year.
“Now this is in my hands, so if you want to make recommendations, the more specific the recommendation the better,” said Molleda. “I would be very happy to incorporate those in future alterations and modifications of the floor plan.”