Last Friday, my longest meeting of the day was a discussion of a proposed new “journalism” curriculum. The faculty had seemingly split into two factions, with one advocating that the focus in the curriculum should be teaching the skills students need for the jobs that are available today, and the other advocating more attention to skills that are seen as more cutting-edge in newsrooms. As with any good academic decision, the ultimate curriculum will probably be a compromise, with a little of both.
But the event caused me to start re-thinking what it means to be “cutting-edge” in broadcasting and broadcast journalism today. To me it means 4K, digital first, social journalism, and mobile journalism. It also might include OTT, skinny bundles, and digital signage. And a few years ago, the list might have included 3DTV, non-linear editing, and videotext.
The point is that our field is constantly evolving. When I started teaching in the 1980s, it was nearly impossible for academics to have the latest innovations in broadcast equipment because they were so expensive. (Remember when a simple 1” video recorder cost $50,000+?) The digital revolution equalized the playing field, with lower-cost equipment allowing educators to use the same “broadcast quality” equipment that was used in local television stations.
As the pace of innovation increased, we were also faced with choices. It took about two decades, but non-linear editing has completely replaced linear editing. Along the way, we had to make choices regarding when we would make the switch. 3DTV offered another new choice, with those who put emphasis on 3D production having to roll back as the market failed to support widespread adoption of the technology (at least for now).
So where can we see, touch, and discuss innovations that we will need to bring into our classrooms, studios, and editing bays? For me, the answer has always been the BEA and NAB conventions. The relationship that BEA has with the National Association of Broadcasters has always guaranteed that my BEA membership provides me access to the trade show that provides the most comprehensive look at where our field is headed.
The best news is that the number of opportunities to get this education is increasing, as the NAB hosts the NAB New York show November 9-10. As with other NAB events, BEA members get access. In this case, BEA members get a FREE Core Package registration to this show by registering with the code SM07.
For me, nothing will replace the exhilarating and exhausting experience of walking the NAB show floor in April. But it’s great to know that, as our field is growing, the number of opportunities to keep up the latest innovations is increasing as well. In the end, these opportunities we have will lead to more discussions of what we can and should be teaching. And that’s a good thing.