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Mass communications should partner with WUSF

WUSF TV wants students to create content to fill a 12-hour gap on one of its channels – a perfect opportunity for mass communications majors, yet the mass communication department has yet to join the project.

Tom Dollenmayer, station manager at WUSF, hopes to create a class for students to produce content by fall 2010, but the station has not discussed the matter with Edward Jay Friedlander, director of mass communications.

Working with WUSF to produce the channel seems like a no-brainer. A program like this is what the mass communications department needs to take itself to the next level. It will make USF more competitive.

WUFT TV, a public broadcasting station for North Central Florida, is a division of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. WLUF LP is a television service of WUFT. According to its Web site, “University students are responsible for the day-to-day operations of the television station, from programming, to production, to operations.”

Mass communications students already produce a program called Florida Focus that runs on WUSF. However, the student-run channel would go far above and beyond this brief two-and-a-half minute production.

WUSF has four channels on Bright House: WUSF TV, WUSF Kids, Create TV and the government-funded Florida Knowledge Network (FKN).

FKN only broadcasts for 12 hours, so the channel is off the air from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. The new program would run for a few hours during that time, and Dollenmayer hopes it will eventually be “shot, edited and produced by students.”

Whether there will be a class to produce the channel is up to the mass communications department. It would take time before students could run every aspect of production, but USF should aim for that goal.

Through the station, USF students would have an opportunity to reach a larger audience than any other Florida school. According to Nielsen Media Research, Tampa is part of the largest television market in the state and the 13th largest in the U.S.

Creating classes for the channel is the right choice.