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Athens MidDay airs final broadcast after 32 years

Alex Koumas | May 31, 2012

Athens MidDay airs final broadcast after 32 years

By Alex Koumas, & Erin Roberts,

ATHENS, Ohio (May 31, 2012) – After 32 years, Athens MidDay, the Scripps College of Communication’s student newscast that airs on channel 25, ran live for the last time on May 31, 2012.

The program is ending because of the quarters-to-semesters (Q2S) change at Ohio University effective fall 2012. Under the semester model, students will take a third fewer courses, making it difficult to create a program that allows students to only participate in MidDay for an entire semester.

“We are changing our curriculum as we change to semesters,” explains Mary Rogus, an associate professor in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. “To deal with the fact that students entering the industry these days need to be very flexible and need to have experience across different platforms, we felt that a course or an experience that essentially concentrated all of their journalism skills classes on just broadcasting or broadcasting online was probably defeating the purpose of our new curriculum.”

An average of 25 to 35 students have participated in MidDay each quarter, which means more than 1,100 students have participated in this program over the last 32 years. Several students and alumni have expressed sadness over the conclusion of the show, citing the educational benefits and opportunities it has provided.

“I think it’s sad that MidDay is ending because I have gotten so much valuable experience from being in an actual newsroom, having to work under time pressure and getting to do all the jobs,” said Briana Simmons, a senior double major in broadcast journalism and marketing. “I think that’s something really important for someone going into a career in journalism.”

Athens MidDay comprised two journalism classes (JOUR 458 and 459) and a Media Arts & Studies class. Students in these classes produced a live noon newscast covering Athens County and Ohio University news. Most of the journalism students were either juniors or seniors and the Media Arts & Studies students were primarily second- or third-year students, except for the directors, who tended to be seniors.

Rogus explained the students had the opportunity to perform every job in a television newsroom through MidDay, which aimed to give students an outlook and sense of how an actual newsroom operates.

“No matter what job they’re going to end up with, they know what it’s like to stand in somebody else’s shoes,” Rogus states. “They know what it’s like to be responsible to each other, to an audience, and they know what it’s like to have good days and bad days. All of these experiences come together to help students polish their skills and give them a taste of every job in the newsroom.”

Two accomplished alumni traveled back to Ohio University to newscast with the students and share their stories this year. They include Martin Savidge, BSJ ’81, a CNN correspondent in Atlanta, and Sheila Gray, BSC ’86, the morning anchor for FOX 19 Morning News.

“Mary Rogus at Scripps has done a phenomenal job with her news casting class and has students working in TV news all over the U.S.,” said Gray in an email. “When I was at Ohio University in the ’80s, Professor Don Shoultz was our instructor, and every day I still use the skills I learned working on what as then called ACTV-7 News.”

For students interested in gaining newsroom skills, Simmons suggests they join Newswatch, a half-hour nightly television news program that airs at 5:30 p.m. on WOUB.

“They have a similar experience,” Simmons explains. “Granted you won’t have the time pressure like we have throughout the day at MidDay because we only have four hours to get a show on the air. But with Newswatch you will definitely get that experience where you’re putting together stories, and you’re also getting to anchor and try everything as well.”

Rogus is confident that new opportunities will arise for students at Scripps.

“I am excited about the opportunities in our new curriculum, and I’m excited about integrating our journalism classes more with WOUB, which is what we will be doing instead of the MidDay experience,” Rogus explains. “I think that will be a positive for both the journalism school and the Center for Public Media.”