writes Mudassir Raja
The NU-Q newsroom features an editing suite, a graphics room, a voice-over
booth, social media desk, a wall of TV screens showing 20 different TV channels
at one time and four satellite dishes that have access to multiple television
networks besides the provision of top global newswires
The state-of-the-art newsroom equipped with modern tools has been officially inaugurated at Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) where a large number of teachers, technical support staff, and students were present on the occasion.
The newsroom features an editing suite, a graphics room, a voice-over booth, social media desk, a wall of TV screens showing 20 different TV channels at one time and four satellite dishes that have access to multiple television networks.
The newsroom also has access to world’s top newswires for the students.
At the opening, the students and the faculty members evinced keen interest in the facility as some short video reports were run on big screens. The videos were prepared by students and contained reports on different subjects locally.
Everette E Dennis, Dean and CEO at NU-Q, briefed the audience about the significance of the newsroom and how it would help future professionals in fields of communications and broadcast journalism.
Talking to the Community soon after the opening, Dennis said, “It is a laboratory where students will learn, they will make mistakes and they will learn from their mistakes. It is a wonderful platform for students. It is one of the most modern newsrooms in the world. The students will practice here whatever they will learn. It will help them produce high quality work. It will help students get prepared for jobs in media industry.”
Speaking about its significance in Qatar, the dean said, “We are very thankful to Qatar Foundation (QF) for providing every kind of support in establishing the newsroom. The QF asked us to have one of the most modern newsrooms in Qatar and helped us in having it in accordance with Qatar National Plan (2030).”
He added, “The NU-Q with the modern newsroom is going to be a hub for media studies not only in Qatar, but also in the region. We have students from different countries in the Middle East and from Africa. We have 50 percent of our students from Qatar. The students here can get education to serve in future in journalism and communications of different kinds such as corporate and sports. We are planning advance courses even for professionals already in the industry — not just in Qatar, but also elsewhere in the world.”
Geoffrey Cannaby, Director of Production and Digital Media Services at NU-Q, said, “The students will be using the newsroom and working in a lab environment. They will be using it during opening hours after their classes. We will also be using the facility as a classroom twice or thrice a week. The students will have access to all news feed. They will practice and develop their own stories. Three times in a week, we shall be running shows in the facility.”
The director compared the newsroom with such facilities at the world’s top news channels. “It is a lot closer to the newsrooms in BBC than at Al Jazeera. It is a fully automated newsroom. There are no camera operators in the newsroom. It is all robotic. Technically, you can run a show with one man in the newsroom,” he disclosed.
Cannaby said the students would run the newsroom. He notes, “Our students are in-charge of the facility. We have technical support for them from engineering and production staff. We have hired professionals from Sky News Arabia, Al Jazeera, and BBC and from other reputed companies. The students have a modern newsroom where they can do whatever they want to. We are here to facilitate them.”
He said every day would start like a typical newsroom in a TV channel. “The students will come and look at the available news material, wires, what is going on around the world, and what is going on in Qatar. They will also look at what they want to report. They will practice how they are going to build their own shows. “
He added, “The students will have to do everything. They will learn all the roles. We are there to help them, facilitate them, and to teach them.”
Regarding what kind of content the students would be producing, Cannaby said, “It is about students. We have a very diverse body of students at the university. Students come from all over the world. It will be up to them what kind of a story they want to tell and when they want to tell it.”
Cannaby said they were not going to face any issues in running the newsroom. He said, “We have academic freedom in the QF. The students are free to tell every story they want to tell as long as it is respectful of the culture of Qatar. “
He said they would continue working to make the facility more effective. “We are getting more regular stories. I mean Doha does not have a lot of local news in English. It is a facility to put more video content out there. To make it more effective, we have to get more students and have them use it.”
The director said the newsroom had the potential to produce future journalists. “This is definitely the future. We are not training people for now, but for what they are going to be. With plenty of students out there, it is going to change the industry. They are going to update it. They are going to look for new ways to tell stories.”
Abdel Magid, a journalism sophomore at NU-Q, said, “It is really good to have a state-of-the-art newsroom. It will give students actual experience of broadcast journalism. The newsroom will be used for recording interviews and holding talk shows.”
Magid has done a project on the newsroom and written a detailed newsletter on the facility.
Sharing his views about the newsroom with Community, Alanoud al-Thani, a communications sophomore, said, “I believe the newsroom is going to help me in my future career which is to become an expert in the field of media. My ultimate goal is to have my own media organisation and therefore, getting trained in such environment will enhance my skills and will help me develop my public speaking and leadership skills. As NU-Q students, we are lucky to have this amazing gift.”
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