By Nicole LaDuca
Tomorrow starts here. It is the phrase students, faculty and Greenville locals see signifying the countless number of opportunities East Carolina University offers.
To follow one of the missions of the university, the School of Communication’s journalism faculty have developed a new plan. Dr. Mary Tucker-McLaughlin and Dr. Glenn Hubbard created a rent-to-buy equipment program for journalism students to be implemented in the fall of 2015.
It all started in McLaughlin’s Multiplatform Journalism class after a student asked why journalism students did not have their own equipment if they did not spend money on textbooks for the classes. McLaughlin said a light bulb went off and she started thinking about different ways students could better succeed in the classroom.
Hubbard said once McLaughlin brought a camera rental and buying program to him, he was 100 percent on board and ready to take the necessary steps to make the idea a reality.
McLaughlin said the “rent-to-buy” equipment program will be mandatory for journalism students. They will be required to start the program prior to their sophomore year in order to have the necessary camera equipment on the first day of their first broadcasting class — Video News Production. The equipment includes a camera, microphone, tripod, memory card and a warranty for all of the equipment.
“The great thing about this program is that there are no strings attached,” said McLaughlin. “You can drop out, return the equipment and not pay a fee. If you are in the program for the entire time, at the end of your journalism classes, you will own the equipment.”
The packages range from $40 a month to $90 a month depending on the type of camera the student chooses. Hubbard says he recommends the camera that only costs $40 a month.
“The cheapest package is the best deal,” said Hubbard. “The camera gets you really good image quality, and it is cross compatible. It shoots great still images and great video, so students could use it for more than just broadcasting classes.”
The quality of the cameras is something McLaughlin believes is another advantage. She says being able to shoot still images would be perfect for students who need a camera for other communications classes, such as Copy Editing and Design.
Hubbard and McLaughlin, the two communications professors who focus on broadcast journalism, agree that the positives of the new program far outweigh the negatives that might come with the change.
The School of Communication will be saving between $6,000 to $10,000 every year on cameras and equipment they will no longer have to purchase.
“Right now, there isn’t a camera kit for everyone,” said McLaughlin. “If a student has an interview set up and they go to check out equipment and all of the cameras are gone, they cannot complete their assignment.”
Because professors can only do so much, the biggest gain of all lies within the students’ interest. Hubbard says he is always willing to help motivated students with out-of-class tips or advanced classes to further their career goals.
“I’ve been known to create special classes with independent studies for interested students,” says Hubbard.
McLaughlin also believes the opportunities are endless with this new program. She says the first thing on her to-do list is to inform all of the local news stations about the program, which would give students the opportunity to freelance and be stringers for the different news outlets.
“Local stations will hire students to shoot footage for them, but the catch is that you have to have your own equipment,” said McLaughlin. “With this new program, that wouldn’t be a problem.”
With a small investment from ECU’s future journalism students comes a major improvement to the program that is currently in place. And, with this new plan, tomorrow’s achievements can start today.