Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


FAU Offers New Multimedia Degree

Dr. Susan Reilly arrived at Florida Atlantic University in 1998 with a major goal in mind — to restructure the Department of Communication and provide students with well-developed and dynamic sequences to study. Five years later, her work has resulted in the creation of the Bachelor of Arts in multimedia studies program, which includes the multimedia journalism and film and video studies sequences.

“The goal of the new program,” Dr. Reilly says, “is to prepare students for work in a converging media environment.”

According to Dr. Reilly, the new convergence trend — where one company presents its product through a variety of media such as newspapers, television, radio and the Internet — requires that students work across different media platforms.

“South Florida is one of the markets where companies are literally fitting radio, newspaper, and other electronic mediums together,” she notes.

One of these companies is the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, whose president and publisher, Robert Germillion, heads the FAU Multimedia Studies Advisory Board. “Some faculty members and I started working together with Bob in order to develop a track of study that would prepare students for work in a changing media environment,” comments Dr. Reilly.

The almost 400 students who are currently enrolled in the program are expected to develop basic writing, visualization, and analytical skills so that they will be able to produce material for a variety of media outlets.

Dr. Reilly explains that the objective for the multimedia journalism sequnce is to move away from the traditional journalism school where print and broadcast are separate and create courses in which students are exposed to both.

The new degree program includes courses in film studies, television studies, journalism, video production, and studies and practices in multimedia.

“Our goal is to prepare students for a changing working environment, while teaching them about their responsibilities to the public as workers in the media,” says Dr. Eric Freedman, program director.

According to Dr. Freedman, who has a background in film and video production and has worked as a high school journalism teacher in Los Angeles, the curriculum is organized in a way in which students can move from courses in print to documentary video production, and eventually into multimedia.

“The combination of these courses will get them to think about how print, video, and audio intertwine,” he adds.

A TV production practicum also has been developed, through which students can participate in field and studio reporting and assemble their own programming. The programs will be aired on Owl-TV, the FAU student television station, Dr. Freedman points out.

Another way in which students will receive hands-on experience is through a partnership with the Sun-Sentinel that will be proposed to the university for approval and which Dr. Reilly hopes will be in place by the fall semester.

According to Dr. Reilly, students’ work in the classroom will be linked to

Sun-Sentinel production. Students will be able to use the company’s facilities in Fort Lauderdale to produce their projects, she says.

A new web cast radio station is also in the works. “The station will showcase classical music and NPR (National Public Radio) news features and will not rival the university’s radio station,” Dr. Reilly points out. One of the main bases of support for the program, she says, is the advisory board. Its members provide equipment for the program and offer insight on industry trends to the faculty. “Once a year, they come in and meet with students,” Dr. Reilly adds.

Prof. James Tracy, who teaches U.S. Journalism and Broadcast Journalism at

FAU, thinks the new program has great potential. According to Dr. Tracy, it provides students with the necessary skills and high professional standards to be successful journalists.

Dr. Reilly hopes that students from around the world will consider the

multimedia studies program to be worthwhile.

“The new technologies make the media industry very interesting,” she says.

“The whole focus of news changes when it is adapted to different formats, and

I hope students see that; regardless of what language they work in, the skills they will get through our program are helpful.”

Adds Dr. Freedman, “There’s a lot of innovative potential, because the program is so new.”

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