Newsroom of the Future to Open in the Fall

One of the most technologically advanced newsrooms in the country opened as classes began Sept. 4 at Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism. The two-level newsroom on the ground floor of the Melville Library, at the center of Stony Brook’s sprawling modern campus, is the journalism program’s primary teaching space and laboratory for print, broadcast and online courses.

“Our students have access to the best tools available for journalists today,” said Marcy McGinnis, associate dean and director of the school’s 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 top newsroom designer Harlan Neugeboren and experts from Apple and Sony to create the state-of-the-art newsroom/classroom/digital lab.

Grants from The Dolan Family Foundation and the Stony Brook Foundation, together with ongoing support from Stony Brook University, provided the funds for building and equipping the newsroom. Howard Schneider, the school’s founding dean, said the project cost $1.3 million.

Nearly 140 journalism students will attend 18 sections of classes in the new newsroom this fall. And all 173 journalism majors and minors will be able to use the newsroom’s technology tools to help them do their jobs as journalists: to find and effectively communicate the truth to the public.

Each of the 18 student workstations in the main teaching area has two large Apple monitors that form one desktop, allowing students to drag material from one screen to the other and display vast amounts of information in an uncluttered setting. 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 dusty chalkboards, professors will draw on tablets linked to “smart” whiteboards at the front of the room.

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. A 35-foot news ticker keeps passersby informed of the latest local, national, international news, sports and business headlines. Already, strollers are stopping to watch a bank of TV monitors, all tuned to news channels, which overlook paths and lawns in the heart of the campus.

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.

Newsrooms at Stony Brook’s Manhattan and Southampton campuses will eventually be linked to the main newsroom, allowing three-way visual communication for students and professors. A full-fledged broadcast studio with an anchor set and control room is under design. It will be housed in the university’s Electronics Communications Center, a short walk away.

“The newsroom not only mirrors but surpasses many professional newsrooms around the country,” said Schneider, a former editor of Newsday. “I doubt there are many newsrooms–outside the big papers and stations–armed with this kind of hardware and software. We are not only on the curve but ahead of the curve.”