Dr. Manny Paraschos likes seeing empty seats in his journalism class at Emerson College in Boston, MA. As a former high school teacher, I sometimes felt the same way (particularly when spring arrived), but the doc has a different reason. In fact, according to a ” Macs in Action ” article, he’s more enthused than ever about teaching because he and his students have been energized by the prospect of reporting from a “newsroom without walls.”
Using AirPort equipped PowerBooks and Canon GL-1 digital video camcorders, his students roam the Boston area looking for stories to tell. When they find them, they film and edit them in the field using Final Cut Pro, Apple’s high-end video editing application.
“The technology has made it so easy,” Paraschos told Apple. “During the summer we did as much as any TV station would do, with the same speed, and very good visual results.”
The mobile newsroom is the result of an experiment that began three years ago, but was refined during Emerson’s Summer 2000 session. Paraschos, who also heads up the department’s graduate studies program in journalism, had long been an advocate of integrating the Web into classroom studies. Last summer, with the help of an Emerson Zacharis Faculty Excellence Fund grant, the department purchased new PowerBook laptops and AirPort wireless technology, through which Paraschos was able to show students how to incorporate the use of dynamic media into the Journalism Students’ Online News Service (JSONS) Web site.
“We originally just had text, graphics, and photos on our site,” Paraschos told Apple. “This year the equipment and the software had improved so much, we felt it was time to test the limits of the technology, and see what it could do. For the ‘Newsroom Without Walls’ project, we wanted to see what the problems would be if we allowed the students to continue being members of a news team, without being in the same newsroom. The combination of the PowerBooks with wireless technology, the Canon camcorder, and Final Cut Pro, made all that possible.”
Paraschos sees major implications for the use of Apple’s mobile technologies in all areas of traditional and electronic journalism. Now that the quality of digital camcorders has improved so dramatically, he told Apple, it’s simple and inexpensive to capture “hot” stories in the field. Throw in the AirPort wireless technology, as well as the ease of use of laptop editing, and students and professionals alike can enjoy high-quality news production virtually anywhere, he said.