21st century newsroom

21st century newsroom

On a steamy September afternoon last fall on the eve of the Florida/Kentucky football showdown, the College unveiled the 21st Century News Laboratory, the first of three components of its Center for Media Innovation + Research, affectionately referred to as CMIR (simmer).

The opening of the News Laboratory on Friday, Sept. 24, is only the start of the College’s dream of establishing a premier center that utilizes advanced digital technology to train UF students to create content for all multimedia platforms and better prepare them to work in the ever-changing world of journalism and communications.

“The UF College of Journalism and Communications is one of the nation’s largest and one of the best,” said UF President Bernie Machen. “We must play a role in this emerging metamorphosis. Our graduates must learn to carry forward the legacy of the great print, radio and television journalists as well as the many notable alumni of this college.”

Sharyl AtkissonSharyl Attkisson. Click photo to zoom.
The next phase of construction for CMIR is a similar digital lab for strategic communications students primarily in advertising, public relations and other areas of persuasive communications. The planning and design of that Laboratory is in the final stages, with an anticipated opening date of late fall/early winter.
The final component of this innovative triumvirate is a digital communications think tank and research consortium that will extend the center’s research across the world, allowing faculty and staff to collaborate on digital communications research projects with people around the globe.
“It is more important than ever before that elite journalism programs step up and continue to educate aspiring journalists in the values, the skills, the ethics of journalism,” said Dean John Wright. A crowd of more than 75 alumni, faculty, students, media executives and dignitaries attended the opening of the 21st Century News Laboratory, highlighted by the recognition of Dean Emeritus Ralph Lowenstein whose vision for how technology would change the journalism and communications professions has been an inspiration in the College for more than 30 years.

“Dean Lowenstein had the vision for us at the University of Florida that technology would make a profound change in our lives, whether we are educators, business leaders, small business owners, entrepreneurs or students,” said Barbara Gore, ADV 1982, a retired eBay and Netscape executive who credited Lowenstein with urging her to enter the burgeoning technology industry after she graduated in 1982.

Donor plaque

It is because of the support of alumni, friends of the College, organizations and companies that the UF College of Journalism and Communications is able to provide state-of-the-art facilities, enhance the quality of its academic programs and provide meaningful learning experiences to its students.

A permanent plaque recognizing those contributors who have donated to the new Center for Media Innovation + Research is located in the 21st Century News Laboratory.

The College recognizes the following supporters:

• Harris Corporation
• Cox Communications
• Todd Templin, TEL 1984 and Kristi Krueger Templin, TEL 1986
• Gary Watson, MAMC 1970
• Ron Sachs, JM 1972 and Gay Webster-Sachs
• Ramsey Hasan, TEL 1992 in honor of his beautiful daughter Cady
• Chris Mobley, JM 1982 and Vicki Mobley
• Michael Connelly JM 1980 and Linda Connelly, PR 1980
• Ralph and Bronia Lowenstein

Alex OrlandoAlex Orlando


David Westin and Dean John WrightDavid Westin and Dean John Wright


21st Century Newsroom21st Century Newsroom.


Click photos to zoom. Photos by
Sixtine Gurrey

The news laboratory includes a 1,200-square-foot production studio, complete with professional lighting and a large multi-display video wall. Adjacent to the newsroom is a conference room and sound studio.

Sharyl Attkisson, TEL 1982, investigative correspondent for CBS News in Washington, provided the keynote address and discussed the importance of the News Laboratory for the future of the industry.

“How are tomorrow’s journalists to prepare for what they will face?” she said. “There will be no lines. There will be no lines between the function of the reporter and the producer. There will be no lines between a cameraman and a correspondent. There will be no lines between print journalism and broadcast journalism.

“There will be a need for well-rounded journalists who can do it all. They’ll have to cast a wider net. They’ll have to report, shoot, edit, write. They’ll have to learn all the different forms of technology and they’ll have to work in broadcast, online and print,” Attkisson said. “That’s what is so important about the 21st Century News Laboratory. John Wright has understood that fact for a long time and has worked hard to make sure this premier journalism college stays on the cutting edge.”

Five UF student-journalists presented their own projects that showcased how they will use the technology and highlighted the importance of its use in preparing them for their careers.

Since the opening of the Lab last fall a steady stream of students and faculty members have begun utilizing its technology. In addition, several guests have visited the Lab and offered up their expertise to the College’s students, including David Westin, president of ABC News from 1997 to 2010, who answered questions in late February.

More than 60 students, faculty and staff peppered Westin with a series of questions about his days at ABC News and the future of the industry. He, too, talked about the trends in the industry and the wisdom of UF in pursuing this direction.

“You used to could just go into one part of journalism,” said Westin, “but today, the vast majority of people are going to have to do it all. You’re going to have to write text for reports; you’re going to have to videotape; you’re going to have to take still photos; you’re going to have to report it on-air, edit it and transmit it. ABC is definitely moving in that direction. Technology makes it possible, economics makes it inevitable.”

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