J-school gets new audience
By Mark Brown
Students at Western's graduate school of journalism are eager to work with a new medium introduced at the school but it is a bit RAW.
RAW short for ReelAudio Western will give students the opportunity to work with new technology and produce more current stories in addition to their regular documentaries. The first Western broadcast was Feb. 27.
RealAudio is an application of the Internet which allows the user to listen to something without having to first download a sound file to the computer.
Students are enthusiastic about the new medium, said Brett Ballah, a student at the graduate school. "It will give us increased exposure since we don't have a radio station like other journalism schools."
Ballah described Wendie Crouch, a media specialist for the graduate school who also acts as an instructor for RAW, as being the backbone of the program.
Talks about the program began in November, Crouch said. She came up with the idea for RAW from the CBC who were using RealAudio on their website.
Although Ryerson Polytechnical University also uses RealAudio, Ballah said she believes Western is the first journalism school to use the program for news broadcasts.
Crouch said the first broadcast did not receive the attention she would have liked, but thinks the introduction of the site has been very positive. The next step is to contact search engines, she said.
"Primarily it is a learning tool and a way for the students to broadcast their stories," said Crouch, who added there will be additional benefits as a result of this program.
One of the advantages is it gives students the opportunity to get their stories out on the World Wide Web as well as some experience in web design, Crouch said.
"[It will] show some potential employers what we are doing," Ballah said.
She added another benefit is it will allow graduates and former residents of the London region to keep in touch with the school.
"I think that it's about time we did it if we are going to be in touch with what's going on out there," said David Spencer, acting dean of journalism. "The next step is video."
"The only thing that is stopping us [from moving to video] is the technology," Crouch added. "We are working on the theory in principle that the lines between all the existing media are being blurred, we want to be part of it and we want to be the leader in helping it happen.
"In general, we are going to be offering a lot more of this type of course."
"It may not be a majority medium, but it is here to stay," Spencer said.
The program is inexpensive since the main cost is the RealAudio server which is being shared with Michael Clarke, a professor in the department of microbiology and immunology.
RAW Radio can be found at www.uwo.ca/journ/radio.