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Student-led Organizations Offer Valuable Digital Media and Production Experience

Posted in: School of Communication and Media News

Studio A at Montclair State University

School of Communication and Media (SCM) students seeking to gain valuable, hands-on experience can take advantage of one of the most unique and collaborative communication programs in the country, all without leaving campus.

Whether it’s at the school’s newspaper, radio station, news station or the newly-launched sports network, students can create and share digital content, manage social media platforms, and use monitoring and listening tools.  At the school’s student-led, strategic communications agency, there are opportunities to create and execute PR and social media campaigns for Montclair State as well as area businesses and nonprofits.

Under the direction of enthusiastic faculty with decades of classroom, agency, brand and media production experience, each entity mirrors a professional setting and is equivalent to an internship.  Making SCM distinct from other programs is an orchestrated effort called the Coordination Desk, which each week brings together students from the radio station (WSMC), newspaper (The Montclarion), news station (News Lab), sports network (Red Hawk Sports Network) and agency (Hawk Communications) to share best practices, story ideas and key learnings.

“We have student representatives and faculty members for each group, said Professor Tara George, who is an Associate Professor of Communication and Media, the Head of the Journalism Television/Digital Media, and faculty advisor for The Montclarion. “Anyone who wants to get involved is welcome and it’s an opportunity for students to work side-by-side with students from other disciplines in a collaborative way. It’s important for students to get involved to practice their skills. There are no assignments or grades, and everyone works together to try new things.”

The Coordination Desk provides dynamic, engaging, and collaborative media production experiences. Students gain critical digital media skills that are essential to become leaders in the media and communication industry. Professor Mark Effron, who runs the News Lab and leads the Coordination Desk, said “As someone who spent decades running large newsrooms, it’s really a joy for me to watch so many students, across so many disciplines, collaborate effortlessly and creatively week after week. These students are mastering skills that will serve them well when they begin their professional careers.”

The highlight of the Coordination Desk is a multi-platform, semester-long effort to tackle a “hot button” issue important to students, community, and society. These topics are branded as a #Focus initiative and also culminate in the planning, launching and promotion of live shows.

SCM students and faculty have produced three #Focus initiatives. #FocusImmigration attracted national attention and SCM won an award around for students’ coverage on the issue. #FocusClimatechange culminated in a one-hour primetime program where students gathered experts on climate change issues relevant to New Jersey. The third initiative is #FocusDemocracy, a project covering the historic 2020 Presidential election and issues in New Jersey. A News Lab special wrapping up this initiative is available via the SCM’s YouTube page and more than a dozen cable access channels throughout the state.

Although there are many internship opportunities in New Jersey and nearby New York City, SCM Director Dr. Keith Strudler emphasized the importance of these opportunities during such a challenging time. “These experiences and opportunities are even more valuable during the pandemic,” Strudler said. “There aren’t as many internships and jobs available, but students will be able to put on their resumes that they sharpened their technical skills and developed their soft skills such as teamwork, leadership, networking and problem solving.”