Journalism and Film: Why can’t we all just get along?

By Asher Freeman
By Asher Freeman

The debate on the correct balance between news and entertainment has been going on for decades.

A prime example of this debate can be found right here on Baylor’s overly-watered but oh so green grass: Castellaw Communications Building.

The bottom floor hosts the film and digital media department while journalism, public relations and new media stay on the top.

There is hardly any crossover.

It would seem as if both sides are content to draw their respective lines in the sand and not cross the aisle.

This is a major problem, however, as both sides have tools and expertise that would be of great benefit to share.

For example, the film department has the studio of the former KWBU station and a television studio. It would be incredibly beneficial to the people upstairs if we could use the equipment downstairs.

We don’t. So, for example, when we want to record a podcast it has to be done in the Lariat breakroom with a popular coffee pot and an obnoxious microwave that beeps for no apparent reason.

Journalism students would not be the only ones benefiting. As much as some people would like to think otherwise, most students that graduate from the FDM department won’t go on to make hit movies right out of college. Wouldn’t it be beneficial if they could, say, learn about the television business in college while working on a 30 minute college news show?

If the journalism and film departments truly want to be top- notch, they need to add a broadcast curriculum.

The closest Baylor comes to that are two classes: a class where you learn to write for a teleprompter and a brand new video journalism class with limited equipment because the journalism department’s budget is as deep as a puddle.

If the argument is that news channel production is going out of style and will soon be obsolete, we would ask those concerned to reconsider.

Sure, the stations could be gone and the set-up of women in blazers from the ’80s with matching lipstick and men who don’t blink while they read the teleprompter could possibly be nothing more than a memory in a decade or two.

However, in an expanding media world it is foolish to limit ourselves like this. Film majors should learn how to write a news story and run a short-form program. Journalism majors need to learn video editing and practical camera use.

A more integrated curriculum would allow students to be more competitive job seekers in a market that requires an extreme amount of flexibility.

It is becoming increasingly clear that this is something we need to address.

Whatever argument created the great divide, someone should take initiative and begin to build a bridge between the two.

A perfect example in the professional world is ESPN.

Hard-hitting, breaking news paired with the laugh-out-loud entertaining Not Top 10 has enthralled millions and nobody has had to sell their soul to make that happen.

You get professional production value and professional journalism combined into one amazing product.

If the departments do not want to make a long-term commitment at first, then they don’t have to.

Try it for a semester.

Make a test program integrating the two departments and you’ll soon see the results.

On top of higher quality student media, more prospective journalism students would decide on Baylor over the University of Texas, and film and digital media would have a journalistic edge to add more spice on their resumes.

So, Castellaw Communications departments, let’s set aside our differences and work together for a change.

For all of our sakes.