Stony Brook’s School of Journalism Unveils ‘Newsroom of the Future’

One of the most technologically advanced newsrooms in the country was officially opened today when Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism unveiled its “Newsroom of the Future.” More than 100 people–Stony Brook officials, including President Shirley Strum Kenny; government officials; members of media—attended the opening of the $1.3 million facility.

Ribbon Cutting for the New Room

“The newsroom not only mirrors, but surpasses, many professional newsrooms around the country,” said Howard Schneider, dean of the School of Journalism and the former editor of Newsday. “I doubt there are many newsrooms armed with the kind of advanced hardware and software our newsroom possesses. It is a newsroom of the future for the journalists of the future.”
In the first semester of operation, 140 journalism students attend 18 sections of print, online and broadcast classes in the newsroom. All have the ability to produce work across multimedia platforms of audio, video and text and reach both traditional and non-traditional audiences.

Each of the 18 student workstations in the main teaching area consists of a Mac Pro powering two 23-inch Apple Cinema displays, allowing students to drag material from one screen to the other and display vast amounts of information in an uncluttered setting. Final Cut Studio 2, Apple’s suite of professional digital editing applications, runs on every station. And each station is equipped with ENPS, the world’s leading software system for managing broadcast newsrooms. ENPS is a product of the Associated Press’ Broadcast Technology group.

Three instructor workstations encourage team teaching and permit professors to project work from the Internet, individual student workstations or the professors’ own desktops for all to see. Instead of using chalkboards, professors will draw on tablets linked to “smart” whiteboards at the front of the room.

“Final Cut Studio is the industry’s leading production suite, and companies expect job applicants to be proficient in using it,” said Richard Townhill, Apple’s director of professional video applications product marketing. “It allows newsroom editors to edit, animate, mix, grade and deliver their work in even the most fast-paced environment and under most demanding circumstances.”

The two-level newsroom, entered from the ground floor of the Melville Library, serves as the journalism school’s primary teaching space and laboratory. The newsroom was funded with grants from The Dolan Family Foundation and the Stony Brook Foundation, along with ongoing support from the university. It faces onto the Academic Mall in the heart of the campus,
Among the leading features of the newsroom is a 40-foot “News Ticker” that keeps passersby informed of the latest local, national and international news, sports and business headlines. A bank of TV monitors, all tuned to major news channels, overlooks the surrounding paths and lawns.

Floor-to-ceiling windows, stretching the length of the newsroom, give the rest of the university an up-close view of Stony Brook’s student-journalists at work. Down a curving staircase are additional workstations equipped for digital video and online editing and a conference area for story meetings. The downstairs will be equipped with a “flash studio” and a mini-control room for broadcast training.

“Our students have access to the best tools available for journalists today,” said Marcy McGinnis, associate dean and director of the broadcast journalism program, who oversaw the development of the newsroom. “Students will learn to shoot video with high-definition digital cameras, train on digital editing equipment and work across all print, broadcast and online platforms, replicating the environment of a fast-paced multimedia newsroom.”

McGinnis, a former senior executive at CBS News, spent the past year working with architectural designers The Lawrence Group, newsroom systems designer Harlan Neugeboren, campus facilities and information-technology professionals, and experts from Apple, Sony, CBS News and the Associated Press to create the state-of-the-art newsroom/classroom/digital lab. “AP Broadcast Technology is proud that ENPS will be part of the journalism school’s new newsroom,” AP product manager Bill Burke said. “We applaud the university for providing students with these advanced tools and the training necessary to use them.”

Newsrooms at Stony Brook’s Manhattan and Southampton campuses will be linked to the main newsroom, allowing three-way visual communication for students, professors and guest lecturers. A full-fledged broadcast center with a state-of-the-art digital control room is under design. It will also include an anchor set donated by Long Island’s TV 55. The center will be housed nearby in the university’s Educational Communications Center.