In an effort to distract viewers from regular YouTube fare involving kittens named Percy, precocious toddlers exercising their First Amendment Rights, or, even worse, covers of Justin Bieber’s “Baby” (Baby, Baby), USFtv producers Alexandra Platt and Bharat Sharma are taking part in an online viral video sensation called “lipdub.” A lipdub is a video—usually uploaded on an online distribution platform such as YouTube or Vimeo—where dozens of people appear to spontaneously start lip-syncing to a popular song as a camera films them. This video sensation has been around since 2006, according to the Washington Post, and has quite a rabid online following. College students and trendy young professionals have been making thousands of lipdub videos, including UQAM’s iteration of the Black Eyed Peas’ 2009 hit single “I Gotta Feeling,” which has close to 5.5 million hits on YouTube. Platt and Sharma feel that filming the video on the USF campus will increase the interactivity between the students and the television station as well as infuse a bit of pop-cultural silliness with USF’s atmosphere. USFtv plans on going into production on April 18 with a modern version of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” To learn more, visit twitter.com/usftv and to find out how to get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you don’t already know, USFtv is our university’s student-run television station. USFtv sports is an interesting and crucial part of the programming. All of the university’s games are covered and about six different games are shown each month. These segments include compelling coverage of the game, in depth interviews with coaches and players, as well as a first hand break down of the game by USFtv’s sports editor, Erika Heyer.
Currently, USFtv Sports is in the process of adding a fitness segment to its programming. The station aired a pilot episode of the fitness segment in October to great reviews. “It is an interesting twist on sports and I think that being healthy and staying fit is definitely a huge part of sports that sometimes people don’t think about when tuning into a sports channel but they should.” said Heyer.
Heyer and the USFtv Sports crew are getting tons of positive feedback from their peers as well as their professors. “My teachers come up to me and tell me that they have seen me on TV which is great because I know people are watching. I have also been getting a lot of positive feedback from the Athletics Department. I have been burning game wrap-ups for them and they have been putting them on their YouTube site and it has been working really well,” said Heyer.
Another new feature to look out for on USFtv Sports is a segment on what is behind a Don’s game. For the Dig Pink volleyball game USFtv sports interviewed a player before hand and talked about the charity that the game was benefiting and also had the game wrap up in the package so viewers can get the whole picture of what it takes to be a Don’s athlete.
This season of USFtv sports has shown some of USF’s athletic highs. Heyer says, “My favorite USFtv moment was when the Dons [baseball] were tied in the 10th [inning] and Derek Poppert [USF student] stepped up and hit a single to get the winning run. I got the celebration on film and the interview was great afterwards because Ryan Lipkin [Poppert’s teammate] got him [Poppert] in the face with shaving cream.”
The newest feature that will be airing on USFtv Sports is on the Free 2 Play campaign USF Athletics is doing in accordance with the Not For Sale campaign. Free 2 Play is a part of the Not For Sale Campaign, which targets and involves athletes and sports enthusiasts who believe all children should be “free to play”. The station will be airing the dodgeball awareness game that will be taking place as part of the Free 2 Play Campaign on December 2nd in Harney Plaza.
Heyer has advice for students who are interested in exploring the field of sports journalism. “ If you have the passion, don’t give up! Sports journalism a tough business to get into, there are long hours and hard work is involved. I suggest you get in internship or work for USFtv Sports. I have had the opportunity to write, film, and edit my own stories and if not for this experience I would not currently have my extensive internship at ABC 7 sports.”
USF will soon undergo a major reconstruction plan that will revitalize the University Center and the Phelan Residence Hall. Many of the offices in Phelan Hall will be relocated into the UC (including the Office of Residence Life, the bookstore, and offices for student groups College Players, USFtv and the Foghorn) and many offices in the UC (such as Student Leadership and Engagement and more club offices) will move to other floors.
The Foghorn staff appreciates that the USF administration values the student experience, and devotes funds to improving our buildings to make them not only more useful but also more aesthetically pleasing. However, we have concerns about how the space will be allotted, and, selfishly, are worried about the office space that will be given to us and fellow funded accounts.
One concern in particular is that we would no longer have our own offices. We cannot speak for everyone, but in our office we conduct meetings, hold interviews for stories, write articles, work with writers, edit stories, and lay out the paper for each coming week. We work late hours and use our space all the time.
The suggestion to share offices with other clubs is not workable. If we had to ask permission to use the office for a meeting, to reserve a computer at a certain time, or had to close the office at a certain time, the paper would suffer.
The Foghorn is not the only group affected by this move. It would not be fair to other organizations that have also been accustomed to their own office space to share with another organization. Just as the Foghorn would suffer so would the other organizations’ work.
Chris Begley, the Executive Producer of USFtv, said that the move for USFtv “would be ridiculous.” Begley stated, “Our office would have to be moved in the summer. And who would move it? It would probably have to be Alex [Platt, a fellow USFtv producer] and I. I would have to be forced to stay here during the summer to handle the situation.”
Another one of Begley’s main concerns is security. Begley said administrators have proposed lockers for the group’s expensive equipment, including thousands of dollars worth of cameras and editing equipment. Begley is worried about the equipment being stolen or damaged without having the group’s office to store it in.
Having new and improved facilities for student groups would be a positive change, if implemented properly.
We at the Foghorn try to represent the students of USF, and have brainstormed how we would blueprint the UC. The UC is a space that is supposed to serve students, so who better than students to determine how it should be used? Our floor by floor plan is as follows:
The bottom floor of the UC should contain Outtahere, Crossroads, and the bookstore. This is the plan that has been set forth by the architects, and we support it. We believe that having the café and bookstore near each other would improve business and give USF a better area for students to socialize and eat.
On the second floor, we support the architects’ plan to leave it largely unchanged. The cafeteria takes up most of the space, and we appreciate the Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Student Resource Center being centrally located.
The third floor is where USFtv, the Foghorn, and other student organizations that need visibility should be moved. Being visible to the student body is imperative for these organizations to have consistent members and recognition. Offices that are currently on the third floor but do not require frequent interaction with students, such as the McCarthy Center and Events Scheduling, could be moved to the fourth or fifth floor. Being in a less central location would not impede those groups from fulfilling their missions.
On the fourth and fifth floors, services for students should be located. International Student and Scholar Services, the Learning and Writing Center, the Language Centers, Health Promotion Services, and other services for students should be on the fourth floor. Organizations like Student Leadership and Engagement, the McCarthy Center, Events Scheduling, and other organizations that offer services to students should be located.
We support renovating Phelan Hall and the University Center, and making our campus a more beautiful and functional place. However, we ask that the committee listen to and consider our requests.
Turn on any on-campus television to Channel 35, and you will see the meager fruit of what has been a particularly dry season for USFtv, USF’s student-run television station. Part of the content repeating on a loop is new, but most of it is old. The station, founded in 2006, has seen its productivity and success waver this year, leading to intermittent periods of creative stagnancy. However, just as USFtv wraps up its production season with new programming coming out May 4, change is on the way. USFtv advisers David Silver and Melinda Stone, both recently-tenured media studies professors, have announced that they will not be returning to advise the station next year, prompting the USFtv executive board to reassess the station’s leadership and production process.
Their decision comes at the end of what has been a rocky path ever since the graduation of USFtv founders Dave Binegar and James Kilton in the spring ’08.
“This year has been a difficult year,” said Silver. “Ultimately, I believed, and Professor Stone believed, that something needed to change within USFtv to correct it – either the process or the station’s leadership or the faculty advisors. Because I had already put in three years to USFtv, I thought that perhaps it was time for me to let someone else give it a shot.”
In the 2007-’08 year, Stone said, “USFtv hit its stride – programming was strong and consistent. It is difficult to say exactly what is the cause of the drastic shift from last year to this year.”
One of the more obvious reasons for this shift is the transition away from the leadership of USFtv’s founders, who had directed the station for three years.
“This was the first year that we’ve had without our founding fathers as part of the station,” said Chris Begley, a junior media studies major who will be taking the position of executive producer at USFtv next year, “and this has been a difficult transition because those guys started the station. They knew how to run it, they had a good idea about how things should go, and when we put new leadership into place, things just kind of stopped running the way that we were used to.”
Alex Platt, a junior media studies major and USFtv’s technical programming director, agreed. “We are all incredibly dedicated to the station, and want to make sure it stays alive and successful, but we underestimated the transition,” she said. “It took a little longer than we thought to get our feet back under us.”
Most of the difficulties in the transition manifested themselves in the amount of content produced at the station. While, as Begley said, the commonly-made assumption that “USFtv hasn’t been doing anything all year” is untrue, the new content that has come out of USFtv is sporadic and its production process troubled.
Some weeks, said Silver, the station would broadcast full-length episodes with “great content.” Other weeks, there was virtually no programming being created. “This happened over and over and over again,” he said.
David Burgis, a senior media studies major and the current executive producer at USFtv, said, “There got to be a lot less programming. [People] weren’t as committed, there were hiccups in the process.”
“We called it the Year of the Trailer,” said Stone. “There were many trailers for interesting looking shows but we only saw one follow up show for two of the trailers. It is this kind of mishandling of production schedules and miscommunication between producers that is currently plaguing the station.”
During this time, Silver and Stone were almost forced to abandon their policy of “laissez-faire” advising.
“USFtv is a student TV station – for and by USF students. For that reason, Melinda Stone and I have taken a hands-off approach and in the past it always worked – each week, students would miraculously produce a ton of interesting, engaging content. But this year was different,” said Silver.
“This year had its ups and downs,” Burgis said. “The advisors started to put in more of an active role because they were worried about that—but at the same time, they were going through the whole tenure process.”
Begley added, “I think that put a lot of stress on them. I think they deserve the break. They’re not getting paid for this, they’re doing it out of the kindness of their hearts.”
Silver cited this pressure as a secondary factor in his decision to step down. “It’s frustrating to see so little content each week and it’s even more frustrating to not see any significant changes to correct this problem.”
As the conflict grew, the advisers took action. Stone and Silver decided not to approve USFtv stipends until a full account of what was actually produced at USFtv was given. “We believed and continue to believe that if students produced no work, they should receive no stipends,” Silver said.
While the advisers’ requests have remained unmet as of press time and the stipends continue to be withheld, Begley said, “One thing that I found out was that USFtv’s students don’t really care about their stipends, and the money really doesn’t matter. We’d rather have someone tell us that we’re doing a good job than get paid for doing a good job. If someone gives us praise or tells me that what I’m doing really makes a difference and really is something to be proud about, I’d rather hear that than get paid.”
It is this desire not for compensation but for excellence, said Burgis, that must be harnessed to revive the station. “That’s the real struggle, to find a way to show the passion,” he said. “Everyone involved in the station devotes many hours, clearly there’s the passion there, the problem is translating that.”
Translating passion into programming is one of the station’s goals for next year as the USFtv board bids farewell to its advisers and looks ahead.
“It’s sort of sad because Melinda [Stone] and David [Silver] have been there forever. It’s going to be strange, and whoever takes over won’t be the same. At some level, in [the station’s] DNA, there’s Melinda,” said Burgis. “At the same time, it’s good for them. And there’s definitely a way that it could even be good for the station, because, while they’ve been there for three years and it’s been great, it’ll be interesting to see what will happen with someone else. It’s not really a replacement…it’s more like an addition.”
USFtv’s staff shares Burgis’ optimistic outlook for next year.
“All of us are really excited about the station, and taking it to a new level of college programming. We all feed off of each other’s enthusiasm, so I’m predicting that next year is going to be the best yet for USFtv,” said Platt.
Interactive Content Coordinator Bharat Sharma agreed. He, too, is ready for change.
“Advisers come and go, and I’m really grateful for Professors Silver and Stone over the last two years that I’ve been part of USFtv; they’ve brought a lot to the club,” said Sharma, a sophomore media studies major who has been working at USFtv since the spring of 2007. “It’s a natural transition, now they’re just ready to focus on new things and we’re also ready to take the club in a new direction.” This new direction, he said, involves focusing simply on the core of USFtv: news, USFtalks, sports, and cultural programming.
Also, he said, USFtv members need to determine how to deal with time issues. “[Working with video] is labor-intensive. In Film 101 class back in high school they told us it takes an hour of editing for every minute of content you produce, so it’s just time-consuming and not all of us have that time anymore. It’s just a matter of changing the way we do things.”
Although his specialty lies outside television and video, “I have enjoyed working with USFtv and have learned so much,” said Silver. “I’ve seen first year students blossom into experienced and creative media makers. I’ve seen juniors develop their skills over the years, graduate, and land excellent jobs making media. Working with USFtv for the last three years has been one of the most exciting parts of my job here at USF.”
For the upcoming years, Silver has plans of his own. “I plan to continue my teaching and research interests in digital media as well as my budding teaching and research interests in sustainable living,” he said. “But most of all, I hope to fuse these two interests – participatory media and sustainable living – into a new teaching and research field that some of us like to call green media.”
Stone, too, will be pursuing green media as the faculty adviser of Back to Da Roots and the co-director of the Garden Project. “This fulfilling pursuit is taking [Prof. Silver’s and my] full attention at the moment.”
As for the station, said Platt, it is seeking a new adviser from within the media studies department. The USFtv team will also be spending the rest of the year seeking new direction.
“I hope we can have some kind of end-of-the-year meetup where we can come together and celebrate what USFtv has accomplished, talk about what needs work, and dream collectively about what USFtv’s future will look like,” said Silver. “What I’m most excited about is watching what USFtv makes next year.”
For now, Sharma said, “I think our main goal is to produce more content. Quality is important, but at this point we just need our TV screens to be playing something.”
In keeping with this goal, the TV screens will be playing new content on May 4, when USFtv will be broadcasting one last episode. This episode, which Begley described as a “programming bash where we’ll have programming from every show” will be available on any main-campus TV screen, channel 35; it can also be accessed on the Internet through USFtv’s Youtube page at youtube.com/usftv and the Foghorn Online website.
Description of Video: USFtv Season 4 / Episode 3 / Part 1
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