Though state-of-the-art technology, world-class faculty and challenging course loads help build USC’s elite reputation, it is the room for student exploration that makes USC a top university for academic and professional undergraduate development.
In almost all major tracks, the university allows students to gather the skills they need to succeed in the industry of their choice, to have time to take electives and to become involved in extracurricular activities that might not tie in directly with their majors or career plans.
For broadcast journalism majors, however, this freedom to explore new bounds is stifled by an inflexible curriculum that locks students into the television news industry via stringent learning lab restrictions.
A learning lab is a requirement set forth by the university to give students an opportunity to “reinforce your classroom learning by giving you experience in a live news environment,” according to an Annenberg TV News document.
Print journalism and public relations students have the freedom to work for print agencies like the Daily Trojan, go online with Neon Tommy, talk on the radio with Annenberg Radio News or KXSC, or secure an outside internship to fulfill their learning lab requirement.
Broadcast journalism students do not have this liberty. The learning lab flier for ATVN claims: “There are no exceptions,” meaning broadcast journalism students must use ATVN to fulfill the learning lab requirement instead of other broadcast outlets.
During broadcast students’ freshman and sophomore years, ATVN gives them the freedom to experiment with graphics, work in the studio, become a web supervisor, write stories or pursue on-camera reporting.
This freedom dissolves junior year, as ATVN requires all broadcast students to become on-camera multimedia journalists despite the fact that many students have spent semesters growing into other positions.
This inconsistency compromises broadcast journalism students’ ability to explore all media outlets and, although Annenberg provides all broadcast journalism students with a valuable education, students pursuing careers in televised broadcasting are favored over others.
Annenberg should limit the control ATVN holds over broadcast students by allowing them to work at other media outlets to fulfill their learning lab requirements such as Trojan Vision, or by adding more courses to meet the requirement.
Television production is emphasized almost to the point of redundancy by requiring all broadcast journalism majors to carve large blocks of time out of their schedules and work for ATVN on a weekly basis.
By requiring students to work exclusively for ATVN instead of allowing them to fulfill their learning labs at any of the other organizations mentioned above, Annenberg implies that ATVN is the only academically legitimate news organization on campus and if students work elsewhere during the school year they are compromising their learning experiences.
ATVN is an accomplished station that launches quality news telecasts each day. Many of its staff members have secured prestigious positions in the television industry after graduation.
Requiring students to work at ATVN for one or two semesters could benefit broadcast journalists by exposing them to a vital component of the broadcasting industry.
Students, however, should be able to choose how they contribute to ATVN so that they can deepen their experience in the field of their choice. With the ability to choose focuses from writing to newscast production, students will maximize their experience at ATVN, rather than dabbling in areas they are less interested in.
Despite ATVN’s admirable reputation, broadcast journalism majors should have more freedom to experience broadcast media and all of its aspects.
Conrad Wilton is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism.