Students in the School of Journalism and Electronic Media at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, are “learning by doing” as they produce a weekly news magazine called “UT Today” for WBIR-TV in Knoxville. The half-hour program is scheduled to broadcast on Saturdays at 1 p.m. from March 19 through May 28.
Students in Professor Sam Swan’s Advanced Television News class create the content for the program. This hands-on experience allows students to serve as reporters, anchors and producers. All television studio production roles are performed by the students. The shows are recorded in a studio in the UT Video and Photography Center on campus.
“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 producing stories on state, national and international issues, sports and special features related to the economy, the environment and education.
Stories that will be aired this semester include the impact of proposed budget cuts on UT, the possibility of Hope lottery scholarship recipients being allowed to use the funding to attend summer school and campus civility issues. Each program ends with a story about a unique person or event at UT.
Swan said that “UT Today” is different from other news programs in Knoxville because every effort is made to provide viewers with the perspectives and insights of UT experts. “We want to highlight the wide variety of talent and expertise here on campus,” he said.
“UT Today” is among the small group of programs in the U.S. that offers students the chance to write, report and produce for a program that is broadcast on a local network affiliate, Swan said. The commercial time during the program has been donated by WBIR-TV to allow media sales students to gain first-hand experience in selling advertising time to clients in the Knoxville market.
“Proceeds from advertising are reinvested in the program to allow us to continue to provide our students with the broadcast-quality equipment required to produce high-quality programming like UT Today,” Swan said.