Start spreading the news: Media Lab is here

The new Lopes Media Lab includes a broadcast studio, led by Manager Barry Buetel (far left).

Photos by Alistair Gurley

To senior Caitlin Sharkey, the new Lopes Media Lab in the Technology Building will be a vital resource.

The lab includes a recording studio and equipment for podcasting and a broadcast studio outfitted with cameras and a separate control room, a smaller version of what you would see at a television news station.

“This lab space is game changing for someone like me because I’m not familiar with all the technology today,” said Sharkey, a professional writing major at Grand Canyon University. “Communication majors want to talk. Writing majors most of the time want to read and write. But it’s important for our future careers. Writing and broadcasting go hand in hand.”

A studio for podcasting is a part of the lab.

Communications majors, especially those with an emphasis in broadcasting and new media, joined writing and English majors from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences as well as students from the College of Arts and Media in a recent tour of the lab.

“Professional writing is not just writing anymore,” said Kimbel Westerson, instructor of English and professional writing. “It’s operating a website, a podcast, running an Instagram account.”

Mass media is changing now more than ever with advances in technology and in the methods of communication, adds Lopes Media Lab Manager Barry Buetel.

“There are so many opportunities. We are seeing podcasting explored. People can create content, and they don’t need terrestrial or linear pipelines,” he said.

Students also can emulate a newscast in the studio with professional equipment and collaborate in a central classroom featuring big screens where content can be reviewed.

Buetel, also GCU’s Executive Director of Broadcast, is excited about the possibilities, such as sending students on remote reporting assignments to be part of the newscast and have them get comfortable with camera switches in studio or use of graphics.

“When I saw the email on this, I got up and ran over here,” said junior Conrad Meza, whose goal is to work in sports broadcasting. “This is definitely something I am interested in. I didn’t know there was a whole broadcasting studio. I can come in here and practice the craft.”

A central collaboration space enables students to view and refine work.

New faculty members were added who hold a lot of industry experience.

Kirstin Pellizzaro is a veteran of television news in Michigan and documentary work for public television and joined GCU this fall.

She says the students could not only create news programming but interview shows, “Between Two Ferns” style, or simply learn how to do voiceovers.

The control room is adjacent to the broadcast studio.

“We want to teach them how to do good journalism and not just on social media,” Pellizzaro said. “Hopefully they can tell the story of GCU.”

Michelle Fortin, owner of a public relations firm, joined GCU fulltime this fall as an instructor of broadcasting, and her classes have been using the Lopes Media Lab for weeks.

“Having this facility – and I don’t want to overplay this – feels like a dream come true,” Fortin said. “I cried tears of joy. We are going to equip them to do fantastic things.

“You can host a podcast with a microphone you can buy on Amazon, but it’s not going to have the sound quality. This gives them good quality for what we are doing and the experience of being in a space that feels more professional than a dorm room.”

She says the lab can be a central training ground where they have a space to edit and refine the footage they gather on campus.

"We are blessed to have such an amazing media team with Barry, Kimbel, Michelle, and Kirstin," said College of Humanities and Social Sciences Dean Dr. Sherman Elliott. "They each offer our learners years of experience in professional journalism and broadcasting and will now shape the professionalism and ethics of our future writers, broadcasters and producers."

Grand Canyon University senior writer Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-6764.

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Related content:

GCU News: New recording studio features room(s) with a view

GCU News: GCU podcasters find their voice at Recording Lab

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