After a semester-long hiatus of overdrive task forces, committees and symposiums all discussing the future of student media at Fort Hays State University, printed and digital editions are back on newsstands, cablecast and online.
Today's Homecoming edition of the University Leader is an integral part of a fully-integrated media strategy carried out by a newly-formed organization called Tiger Media Network.
Ron Rohlf, assistant professor of informatics and faculty advisor, said the "mobile-friendly website is a 'tip of the spear' for TMN news coverage and storytelling.
"It fills the need for immediacy, depth, context and updates," said Rohlf. "Stories best suited for audio and video delivery will flow from (the) website re-purposed for spoken delivery to TMN's audio/video producers. From there, the best informative, investigative or evergreen content will be re-purposed for TMN's special edition print issues published at key times of the year."
Student writers, photographers, graphic artists, audio/video producers and Web developers come from all corners of the FHSU campus, but the heart of this activity revolves around a joint curricular program created by communication studies and informatics faculty and department chairs.
In this integrated media program, students move through coursework necessary to prepare mobile journalists for the kind of work common to integrated-media news and information organizations.
Dr. Chris Crawford, assistant provost for quality management, serves on the board of directors of this new media dissemination organization. He stressed the importance of innovation in this changing landscape of community journalism.
"The university community is the recipient of a bold new way of sharing real-time campus knowledge with the introduction of the Tiger Media Network," said Crawford. "Knowledge just wants to be shared, and today our students can pick it up from the newsstand or go online.
"This endeavor would not be possible without the generous support and commitment of the president and the Student Government Association. Our dedicated team of professionals in informatics has made the technical look simple. Perhaps most important, Tiger Media Network is dedicated to the principle of 'by students, for students' and this unique learning lab will provide real-world experience they can directly apply as they graduate."
Chris Roberts, student government president, stressed the importance of having a functioning student-generated news source.
Having that source of information "is crucial for students to stay in the know with campus happenings," said Roberts. "I’m really excited to see student-produced media back in circulation on campus."
FHSU President Edward H. Hammond praised the hard work and dedication of the TMN team.
"When changing circumstances created an opportunity for us to rethink our approach to teaching journalism, I believed we could create a program that would become a model for other universities," said Hammond.
"With the reintroduction of the printed Leader, all the modalities of an integrated news model are now in place," he said.
He said the university is still seeking to fill the last two positions on the permanent staff.
"It has taken a lot of hard work and creative ideas by both faculty and students to produce a media network that will serve the public effectively," said Hammond.