By Daniel Johnson, Sports Editor
After spending the fall semester sprawled across campus, students and faculty in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication have returned home.
The construction of new offices, classrooms and a student media news lab in the Don H. Morris Center finished during the Christmas holiday, and the JMC community has been taking full advantage of the new facilities.
Although some finishing touches and equipment still have yet to arrive, JMC Department chair Dr. Cheryl Bacon said it’s beneficial to be back in Don Morris.
“We had classes in five different buildings, and faculty and staff were located in three different buildings,” Bacon said. “You just can’t have the kind of daily interaction with people that you would like to have in a collegial relationship when you’re scattered that much.”
The $1.1 million project included new offices, classrooms, the new JMC Network Student Media News Lab and new classrooms for the interior design and pre-architecture students.
Bacon said the lab is one of the first student media news labs in higher education to be used by students on a daily basis, and its purpose is to encourage convergence between all of the media majors in the JMC Department. Bacon said the purpose of the lab was more than a fresh coat of paint and new furniture; it was built to create an environment of media convergence and to encourage student journalists to think outside their major.
For the editor of the Optimist, Jared Fields, senior print journalism major from Paducah, it is an opportunity to expand how ACU student media covers campus news.
“Having all the different media in the same room makes it a lot easier to work together to coordinate resources,” Fields said. “We see videographers more often, can do things together with them, and when we get cameras, we’ll be able to do more with the broadcast people.”
Bacon said that the computers in the newsroom will be updated during the summer through LINK Team, a program that updates technology in various departments across campus on a rotation. After the computers and the rest of the finishing touches arrive, Bacon said there will be a formal introduction of the newsroom during the fall semester.
While construction was underway during the fall semester, the JMC Department was camped out in classrooms across campus. Professors had offices in Chambers Hall and the JMC office, and the Optimist office were temporarily in the Administration Building.
“That building had a lot of psychological affects,” Fields said. “It was such a small, bleak, dark building and office. People wanted to be up there as little as possible. That change has
helped a lot with the staff’s mood I think.”