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FHSU unveils media plan

4/26/2013

By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

Recommendations from the Fort Hays State University media dissemination of news and information task force already are in the works.

The task force recommendation calls for a "unified curricular and co-curricular media," which would be implemented in the 2014-15 school year.

"SGA and (FHSU President Edward) Hammond felt it needed to start now," said Chris Roberts, SGA president-elect. 

Hammond, who spoke at Thursday night's SGA meeting, exercised his line item veto on the student government association's allocations bill to combine the amounts specified for the University Leader, the campus newspaper, and KFHS, the university radio and television station.

SGA had approved $26,546.20 for KFHS and $51,801.50 for the Leader for 2013-14. That means $78,347.70 next year for the new multi-media organization.

It likely will be necessary to increase that amount to get the program started, said Kyle Calvin, current SGA president.

The task force has proposed an annual budget of $496,741 with funding through a student fee of $2.10 per credit hour.

Content will be available through web, application and social media-based, video, print, audio and digital archives, according to the recommendation.

"It will be tied closely to (the departments of) Informatics and Communication Studies," said Paul Faber, task force chair.

A board of directors chaired by Hammond will oversee the operation.

The task force recommends six to 10 editions of the print product a year, but Roberts said SGA and Hammond would like to see more. 

Staff would include an executive producer, program specialist for news, one for sports and one for technical production.

Other positions may include a news and sports editor, advertising manager, web application specialist, camera operator, writer/reporter and others.

Faber said the next step is crafting a document providing guidelines for operations.

Hammond was out of town and unavailable for comment Friday.

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Text of the recommendation follows:

Recommendations

Of the Task Force on Dissemination of News and Information

19 April 2013

Mission  President Hammond created this task force “to review the media needs and aspirations of the FHSU community and then to develop recommendations aimed at increasing student engagement and implementing a multi-media model for the dissemination of student-produced news, information, analysis, opinion and entertainment.”

Current or recent student media include the University Leader distributed on paper and on line, KFHS television, KFHS radio, Lines From the Middle of Nowhere, Reveille, as well as departmental and organizational communication distributed through web sites and social media.

Review The task force has reviewed the media needs and aspirations of the FHSU community by considering a variety of sources:

    •    Surveys of  student, faculty/staff, and alumni.  For the full report on these surveys, please see Attachments A, B, and C.  Some of the most salient findings are available in Attachment D.

    •    The Symposium on Student Media, March 26, 2013.

    •    The Town Hall Meeting on Student Media, April 2, 2013.

    •    A Facebook group, the FHSU Open Forum – Media Dissemination Task Force.

    •    Emails.

    •    The Student Government Association reminded its members of the availability of the task force and its two student members.

    •    The Office of University Relations reminded all FHSU community members of the availability of the above forms of communication.

Recommendations The task force recommends the establishment of the TigerPress, a unified curricular and co-curricular set of students and faculty who will tell FHSU stories through a variety of media.  Let us spell out this proposal in greater detail.

Vision-- TigerPress: Telling Our Stories, Telling Yours   Through cooperative action of students and faculty, TigerPress will produce content that meets the highest standards of accuracy, timeliness, and interest, and TigerPress will distribute that content and engage its community through a mix of media so that it becomes the news destination of choice for the broader FHSU community.

Mission  TigerPress will (a) provide professional students with career-oriented experience that ties together  academic classes and professional internships, (b)  be a creative outlet for non-professional students, and (c) communicate information,  news, analysis, opinion, and entertainment of particular interest to members of the broader FHSU community in a form and with a timeliness attractive to students, faculty, staff, and community members.  TigerPress will actively seek to make these co-curricular opportunities available to students on campus, Virtual College students, and students in our cross-border partnerships.

Organization  TigerPress will be a single organization producing varied and valuable content that will be distributed in a mixture of media attractive to FHSU students, faculty/staff, and members of the broader community.  It will bring together print journalism, broadcast journalism, web journalism, and social media.  It will operate 50 weeks per year, producing some content for the broader FHSU community even when FHSU is not in session on the Hays campus.

TigerPress will recognize that the term “FHSU students” covers students on the Hays campus, those studying through the Virtual College, and students in cross-border partnerships.  We will work to find ways to involve students not on the Hays campus in content production, and the content will be aimed at satisfying the interests of our whole range of students, not just those on the Hays campus.

The TigerPress media will initially include

    •    Web-, app-, and social media-based bulletins and updates.  The focus will be on the immediacy of the reporting.  Audience response to these will also provide important data used to gauge audience interest in further development of these stories in other media.

    •    Video.  TigerPress will generate content for on-demand viewing by audiences from around the world as well as for regional cable partners.  Obviously, stories for which the visual presentation is a significant attraction—including sports, physical events, demonstrations—are the focus of video production.

    •    Print.  TigerPress will produce long-form journalism—deeper human interest stories, analyses of complex issues—in print and on the web.  These will focus on foreseeable events—such as the beginning of the fall semester—and recent events of lasting significance, such as the Governor’s annual budget proposal.  We propose that there be somewhere from six to 10 print issues per year, including at a minimum print issues timed to welcome students back to the fall semester, celebrate homecoming, wrap up the first semester, commemorate Valentine’s Day or the Super Bowl, tie up winter activities, and wind up the academic year.

    •    Audio. TigerPress Audio will stream live music and engaging discussions and will generate a number of podcasts covering various FHSU events and news in for listeners on the go.  These National Public Radio-style pieces will be entertaining, engaging, and informative.

    •    Digital archives.  TigerPress will work to find and use software that will make it possible for users to select and aggregate content from their years as a student at FHSU and thereby produce a “personalized yearbook.”

The operation of TigerPress will be overseen jointly by the chairs of the Departments of Communication Studies and Informatics.  One faculty member—the executive producer—will report directly to these chairs, and then three faculty members—the programs specialists—will report directly to the executive producer.   All four will combine teaching, advising, and mentoring with editing and production.  Each of these will be 12-month positions. The four faculty members can be described by their responsibilities:

    •    Executive Producer.  This will be a temporary, full-time instructor or assistant professor with six hours of teaching responsibilities per semester reassigned to the operation of the student media.  This person will be a faculty member in the Media Studies area of the Department of Informatics.  The three program specialists listed below will each report directly to the Executive Producer, and the Executive Producer will report directly to the two chairs.

    •    Program Specialist for News.  This will be a temporary, full-time faculty position in the Department of Communication Studies.  He or she will teach one class per semester and will advise and mentor students in the production of a range of types of news stories, including short pieces for the web or video and important for their timeliness, mid-sized pieces for video, audio, or print distribution and important for their completeness, and long-form pieces for print important for the context and analysis they provide.  The program specialist for news will also perform two functions that are unusual for faculty members.  First, he or she will produce content himself.  Because TigerPress will aim to be the news destination of choice for the broader FHSU community, it is important that TigerPress is constantly updated with news and information and that this be of high quality.  The program specialist’s production will underlie the student work and provide a continuity when the students are not contributing.  Second, he or she will work with students to turn things produced for academic purposes into pieces appropriate for a more general audience.  For example, suppose that a student completes an analysis of a bill proposed to the Kansas legislature for a political science class.  The program specialist for news will work with the author of the paper to turn this into a piece that can be published through TigerPress.  

    •    Program Specialist for Sports.  This will be a temporary, full-time faculty position in the Department of Informatics.  The job description is similar to that of the program specialist for news, though the focus will, of course, be on sports.  There will, however, be a couple of differences.  First, there are more sports events than news events that will be streamed or recorded video productions.  Second, the program specialist for sports will have fewer occasions to work with students to turn things produced for academic purposes into pieces appropriate for a more general audience.

    •    Program Specialist for technical production. This will be another temporary, full-time faculty position and another one that will be organizationally located in the Media Studies area of the Department of Informatics.  Like the other program specialists, he or she will teach one class per semester as well as advise and mentor students.  The focus of this person’s work will be the technical operations of the TigerPress media and, more importantly, the media analytics, audience response and story development, and web and app development.

TigerPress aims to increase student participation in the student media above current levels and to enable students to have enriching educational experiences.  To that end, there will be a range of student positions, some of which will be paid on an hourly basis, some of which will receive a stipend by the semester, and some of which will be unpaid positions.  The students will be encouraged to learn the skills of a variety of positions.  These positions include (but are not limited to)

    •    News editor

    •    Sports editor

    •    Special projects editor

    •    Copy editor

    •    Advertising manager

    •    Promotions and social media specialist

    •    Web application specialist

    •    Producer

    •    Director

    •    Technical director

    •    Engineer

    •    Playback operator

    •    Graphic artist

    •    Audio technician

    •    Camera operator

    •    Photographer

    •    Host/Anchor

    •    Writer/reporter

    •    Announcer

    •    Archivist

Student participation in TigerPress will be tied to academic programs.  The paid student positions will require prior successful completion of or concurrent enrollment in designated classes.  Furthermore, some of the student positions with greater responsibility will require concurrent enrollment in an appropriate lab or practicum class.  

Of course, these arrangements can be made only with the agreement of the relevant academic departments and the proper approval of any curricular changes or additions.   Furthermore, certain arrangements may require a change in FHSU policy.

Revenue and budget  TigerPress is an ambitious proposal aimed at enriching the education of our students and increasing the connections of all of our students—those on campus, those studying through the Virtual College, and those studying through cross-border partnerships.  Because of these ambitions, the budget would be an increase above the combination of current budgets.

Here is a brief listing of the annual costs of this proposal:

    •    Faculty: $237,051

    •    Executive Producer: salary of $45,000; total personnel costs of $63,720

    •    3 programs specialists: salary of $40,000 each; total personnel costs of $173,331

    •    Students: $191,690

    •    Equipment and OOE: $68,000

    •    Total cost: $496,741

The current funding mechanism—both the University Leader and the broadcast council are dependent upon annual allocations by the Student Government Association—creates instability, compromises the ability of the student media to perform services that may be seen as critical of the Student Government Association, and limits student media educational opportunities.  Thus, this task force recommends that the costs of the TigerPress be borne by a student fee of $2.10 per credit hour.  (In FY 2012, 239,853 SCH were generated.  If there had been a student fee of $2.10 attached to each SCH, the total revenue available would have been $503,691.)

Assessment  The success of TigerPress should be measured annually, though in adopting the plan we should guarantee that TigerPress operate for at least four years, from August 2014 through at least May 2018.

More detailed outcomes, benchmarks, and goals should be worked out, of course, but we should develop performance indicators in the following areas:

    •    Number of students involved in production

    •    Quality of the product

    •    Participant satisfaction

    •    Audience satisfaction

    •    Industry review

    •    State and national contest participation and awards

    •    Audience engagement with content

    •    Site traffic—quantity and persistence throughout the calendar year

Transition  TigerPress should begin operation in the fall of 2014.  In the academic year 2013-2014, the University Leader, KFHS radio, and KFHS television will continue to operate as separate entities and with the budgets and practices of recent years.  Approval will be sought for the increase to student fees that fund TigerPress.  During the 2013-14 academic year, the faculty will be identified and hired, with their contracts beginning with the new fiscal year in June 2014.  

In the fall of 2014, the unified TigerPress can move into the designated space in the new Center for Networked Learning and begin operation.

Respectfully submitted by the Task Force on Dissemination of News and Information:

    •    Gentry Heimerman

    •    Matthew Whitmore

    •    Chapman Rackaway

    •    Jennifer Robinson

    •    Scott Robson

    •    Ron Rohlf

    •    Stephen Schleicher

    •    Paul Faber