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Jon Sinasac of the Centre for Teaching and Learning demonstrates a drone-mounted camera before an audience of high school students.Jon Sinasac of the Centre for Teaching and Learning demonstrates a drone-mounted camera before an audience of high school students, Wednesday in Lambton Tower’s Studio A.

Mobile production unit allows journalism students to expand their reach

The support of the University’s Strategic Priority Fund was crucial to the launch of the digital journalism program, says its chair Blake Roberts. A recent $30,000 grant from the Blackburn Foundation provides a different type of validation.

“It demonstrates the credibility we have earned in just a few years,” Roberts said Wednesday during an event to unveil a new mobile production unit, funded through the SPF and Blackburn grants, that will allow students to broadcast from remote locations. “It emphasizes how the University is connected to the community—that’s what journalists are supposed to do.”

Instructors and students from the program hosted a group of 30 pupils from Riverside Secondary School to watch them put the mobile unit through its paces. The equipment includes an aerial drone which can shoot photos or video from the sky.

Roberts said the kit provides an improved learning experience for students.

“With it, we can give our students the opportunity to acquire the skills to master live production,” he said. “With digital technology, you have the capacity to go live as never before.”

He said students will begin by producing remote feeds around campus to the30.ca, the online publication of the digital journalism program. That will expand in future to covering stories across the city.

“We have always viewed our program as a conduit of the University to the community,” Roberts said. “This is yet another way for us to take our show on the road.”

Riverside media arts teacher Jon Leopold said his students were glad for the chance to see the university’s facilities.

“It was interesting for the kids to see the production side behind the scenes,” he said. “Today gave them an understanding about university-level courses.”

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