A Relay for Life wrap-up, Jack’s Mannequin concert review and previews of Niagara University’s theatre and men’s basketball seasons highlight the first-ever installment of The Ridge Report.
The student-produced newscast, billed by its creators as “campus news by students and for students,” went live on the university’s website on Jan. 5, 2011. Its invention is largely the result of a summer internship that Anna Hoffmann, a junior communication studies major at Niagara University, participated in at WCBS-TV, the New York City affiliate of CBS.
“During my internship, I met Peter Dunn, the president of WCBS and a 1981 alum of NU, who challenged me to create a university television station,” said Hoffmann, a Williamsville resident. “When I brought that back to campus with me, I found out that one of my fellow communication studies majors wanted to do the same thing.”
That student, Sarah Kim, met with Hoffmann and Dr. Mark Barner, chair of NU’s communication studies department, to determine the feasibility of launching an enterprise that possessed the potential for growth and sustainability. The trio, along with university multimedia specialist Brian Rock, devised a formal plan for a monthly broadcast treatment that would feature NU topics and special events that are newsworthy but maintain longer shelf lives.
Everything – from determining the show’s primary (current and prospective students) and secondary audiences (alumni, donors and administrators) to set design and anchor selection – was accounted for in the proposal. Rock, Hoffmann and Kim then accumulated B-roll footage from several university events, approximately 90 seconds of which is used in the final product.
The video, less than three minutes in total length, took about 15-20 hours to produce, according to Kim.
“We had to spend some time at the beginning conceptualizing and laying out what we pictured for our product, and then we had to find contacts in various departments before we could have permission to tape,” said the Denver, Col., native. “Shooting and editing proceeded relatively smoothly after that.”
Geoff Redick, a senior from Batavia majoring in communication studies with a minor in theatre, was chosen to anchor the first episode of The Ridge Report. Auditions will be held to determine future anchors in hopes of expanding the program’s pool of talent and helping others build material for their resumes.
“It’s very important that our students, particularly those studying communications, obtain the experience that they need in these types of technologies before they enter the professional world,” commented Barner. “The university’s television studio was recently updated, providing our students with a great opportunity to use high definition cameras and top-of-the-line equipment. We hope that this endeavor will be successful in providing them with practical learning experiences outside of the classroom.”
Once the program gains recognition and, more importantly, a larger undergraduate production team, Hoffmann said the intention is to make The Ridge Report a monthly online telecast.
“Now that we have created one episode, we have a framework in place to brand The Ridge Report and create additional newscasts about campus news and events.”