In Newsline, Research, Students

Innovations aim to better serve campus community and journalism curriculum

In an effort to better serve students and adapt to an ever-changing industry, BYU’s campus news labs are making innovations that will result in a new look to student-produced news products.

Photo courtesy of Jacey Carpenter and Ed Carter

BYU’s Daily Universe (newspaper and digital news) and Newsline (broadcast TV news) labs have functioned for decades as an important part of the journalism curriculum in the School of Communications. The labs are located in the Brimhall Building and provide experience for scores of students each year in the Communications BA degree program.

In 2020, the journalism program received a BYU President’s Innovation Grant to explore ways to adapt to the changing news environment and prepare to serve student and curricular needs long into the future. A task force of three faculty members sought input from journalism faculty and staff in creating a plan for a two-year pilot to explore innovative solutions and ultimately decide on long-term adaptations.

During the first phase of the pilot, starting in Spring Term 2021, the Universe will cease printing a weekly newspaper. Instead, the Universe will focus on a two-track approach. First, digital news will continue to be published each day on https://universe.byu.edu/, as well as on associated social media channels and in a free subscription e-mail newsletter. The print edition will be published monthly through spring and summer in preparation for transition to a news magazine-style print periodical to debut on campus racks Fall Semester 2021. The task force anticipates the print periodical will be published between four and 10 times per year but the details remain to be finalized.

Photo courtesy of Meagan Larsen

Meanwhile, the broadcast TV news program produced by students, called Newsline, also will transition from a five-day-per-week traditional local TV news program to a regular online video news show with an in-depth video newsmagazine program that will be produced in conjunction with the Universe’s new print periodical. Newsline also will continue to distribute daily video news content online at https://universe.byu.edu/newsline/ and on social media.

The Universe and Newsline will continue to explore innovations such as augmented reality applications to news and building collaborations with other campus departments. Those collaborations already include translation of news stories to Spanish and Portuguese as well as joint domestic and international faculty-mentored trips to create non-fiction narratives about BYU athletics, nursing, engineering, study abroad, performing arts and a variety of other enterprises.

The task force recommendations are based on academic and industry research showing that the online digital format provides the best outlet for daily news while the print and broadcast outlets still offer the chance to connect with the campus community in meaningful ways that involve longer forms of explanatory, in-depth and solutions-oriented journalism. As a key part of the journalism curriculum, the products of the newsroom labs aim to contribute to BYU’s goals to help all members of the campus community understand how news is produced and how to distinguish credible and valuable sources of news and information from low-value sources,

propaganda and disinformation. The changes being implemented in the BYU newsroom labs will allow for increased focus on serving campus needs for journalism and news literacy.

Courtesy of Jacey Carpenter and Ed Carter

Students, faculty and staff in the journalism sequence are interested in building community connections on campus and in surrounding areas that will result in news better serving a vibrant audience in various fields of endeavor. The BYU campus community is invited to share ideas, suggestions and feedback at journalism@byu.edu.

BYU’s first student news publication started in 1878 and, since that time, there have been a series of publications under various names and formats. The Universe newspaper came into existence in 1948 and published five issues per week between 1956 and 2012. Meanwhile, the broadcast radio and TV student news programs have their origins on campus in the 1920s. The radio and TV programs in the Department of Communications in the middle of the 20th century evolved into KBYU and, later, BYUtv and BYU Radio.

The Universe also publishes an annual Housing Guide and Two magazine that are distributed free in racks on campus as well as a daily e-mail subscription newsletter. Free subscription is available at https://mailchi.mp/byu/subscribe.

BYU’s newsroom labs and associated classes have contributed to the education of thousands of students, many of whom have gone on to become professional journalists in markets across the United States. Alumni include numerous reporters and editors at local, regional and national newspapers and digital news organizations as well as producers, reporters and anchors at national broadcast networks and local network affiliates. BYU journalism graduates also apply their skills in a variety of other graduate school programs and professions. Information for students interested in studying journalism is available at https://comms.byu.edu/journalism/.

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