Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Donors Help Create Digital Electronic Media Communication Facilities

Dr. Bob Spires,
Gina E. Fann, 615-898-5385

(MURFREESBORO)—A million-dollar upgrade for high-definition TV equipment will put MTSU's electronic media communication graduates out front in their profession, thanks to generous donors and matching funds from the university.
"This is huge for us because so many places don't have HD (facilities) yet," said senior Jacob Smithson of Woodbury, one of the EMC department's first students to work extensively in the digital format, as he prepared to install more of the new equipment last week.
"I've been involved in the upgrade and will have that additional knowledge to use wherever I go. I'm not only getting firsthand experience in using the equipment, I'm getting experience in installing it, which is going to be critical in the industry."
The 16-year-old EMC facilities in the university's Bragg Mass Communication Building will be upgraded with the latest HD cameras, monitors and other equipment manufactured by Sony Broadcasting. Sony's in-kind support is paired with:
• a $200,000 cash grant from the Oklahoma City-based Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation;
• $10,000 from the Landmark Communications Foundation via Nashville's NewsChannel5 Network, the first Tennessee TV station to broadcast in HD;
• individual donations from alumni, community partners and private foundations; and
• $500,000 in matching funds from the office of MTSU's president, Dr. Sidney A. McPhee.
"This HD studio will return MTSU to the front of electronic media communication education in Tennessee," said Dr. Bob Spires, EMC department chairman. "I don't know of a more state-of-the art facility dedicated to teaching students of television production and television journalism in the United States.
"This project reflects the commitment of President McPhee to the Academic Master Plan in that it encourages academic excellence, and the facility will be used by literally thousands of students over its working life. I can't think of a better example of 'student-centeredness.'"
Renovations and installations are under way now to have the EMC studio ready for use this fall, said Marc Parrish, director of technical systems for the department. The project includes upgrades in the TV studio, central machine room, studio control room and audio control room.
When the renovated facility reopens this fall, MTSU will become the first university in Tennessee—and one of a mere handful around the country—to educate students with the new digital format.



HD TV provides theater-quality pictures and CD-quality sound, and because of its higher-resolution formatting and digital technology, it requires more specialized training to properly present media.
"There will definitely be a learning curve for both students and faculty," said Parrish. "When we're up and running, we'll definitely be a leader in the industry."
One of the most visible changes will be placement of a massive plasma screen, complete with a rotating menu of student projects, along the south hallway of the Bragg building to replace the bank of video monitors formerly visible behind the windows.
Inside the control room, users will be able to sit down to operate the "tape wall" of monitors, opening the facility up to better accessibility for people with disabilities.
The $1 million upgrade is just the first phase of a departmental digitization project, according to Steven Barnes, development director for the College of Mass Communication.
The second phase will upgrade EMC's Mobile Production Laboratory with digital technology for on-the-go coverage comparable to any professional TV station.
"This type of project exhibits how private support can benefit an entire generation of students," Barnes said.
"Sony's interest in our program has opened the door for some future opportunities that could have a great impact on the university."
MTSU's EMC department already is acclaimed for its hands-on opportunities for students aiming for careers in TV, film and electronic media management. Most recently, the department provided a closed-circuit news operation, complete with CNN-type coverage, of a massive disaster simulation in Nashville, to help first responders practice their crisis communications plans.
"This technology symbolizes the future of higher education, in its partnership with industry giants while delivering top-notch education to our students at MTSU," said Dr. Anantha Babbili, dean of the College of Mass Communication.
“It strengthens our accreditation standards and solidifies the mission of the university: to serve our students.”
One of the largest programs in the nation, the MTSU College of Mass Communication offers degree concentrations in 14 major areas—ranging from journalism to digital media and media management to recording industry management—and is accredited by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. The College’s Department of Electronic Media Communication, with more than 800 majors enrolled, teaches digital media communication, television and radio production, electronic media journalism and management, digital animation, digital imaging, and photography.
NOTE: Media needing color headshots of principal sources OR “before” photos from the EMC facilities teardown should contact the Office of News and Public Affairs via e-mail at or by calling 615-898-5385. Thanks!

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