UT Students Produce News Magazine for WBIR-TV

University of Tennessee journalism and electronic media students will get a taste of real-world broadcast journalism as they produce a weekly TV news magazine called “UT Today” for WBIR-TV, Channel 10, in Knoxville.

The half-hour program will be broadcast for eight Saturdays, beginning at 1 p.m. March 19.

UT professor of journalism and electronic media Sam Swan teaches the class, which trains students as reporters, videographers and producers for the news program. All television studio production roles are performed by the students.

UT graduate student Curtis Owens serves as executive producer and assignment editor for the show. Erica Lalonge, Tiffany Roy, Alexis Bernacchi and Parker Beckman are segment producers. These individuals work together to develop the content of each week’s show.

UT Today is produced at the university’s video and photography center.

Swan says it’s good exposure to the world of professional electronic newsgathering.

“The program provides opportunities for students to gain real-world experience in a professional environment,” Swan said.

“The class functions like a TV news department, with students generating stories on state, national and international issues, sports, the economy, the environment, and education,” he said.

Swan said that UT Today will be different from other news programs in Knoxville, because every story will give the perspectives or insights of UT experts.

“There are so many researchers and professors on campus who are nationally and internationally recognized in their fields, and these experts often have wonderful insights into the events of the day,” Swan said.

The show also will highlight UT sports and other campus activities.

Swan said UT Today is a unique opportunity for broadcast journalism students.

“This is the only university program in the nation that offers students the chance to write, report and produce for a television news show that is broadcast on a local network affiliate,” Swan said.

All of the time for the broadcast has been donated by WBIR-TV, Swan said, to allow UT media sales students to gain first-hand experience in selling advertising time to clients in the Knoxville market.

Proceeds from ad sales will be reinvested in the program to maintain and upgrade broadcast-quality equipment, he said.