Saturday, September 8, 2007

How the new Batt/Aggieland newsroom came to be

Many, many thanks to Mr. Wegener for all of the following!

On Sept. 16, staff members will celebrate the one-year anniversary of producing The Battalion and Aggieland in the Memorial Student Center (after more than 30 years in Reed McDonald). Check out the following timeline and slide shows. Better yet, drop by and see us.

From 013 Reed McDonald to 032 Memorial Student Center in 11 months, 6 days, 21 hours and 47 minutes…

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.


Oct. 11, 2005 — Christmas comes early for The Battalion and Aggieland:
Dr. Dave Parrott, associate vice president for Student Affairs and dean of Student Life; Dr. Carol Binzer, director, Offices of the Dean of Student Life, and chair, Student Media Board, and Bob Wegener, general manager, Student Media, tour space formerly occupied by MSC University Plus Craft Center (wood shop, pottery wheels, glass working, and darkrooms). Oh, the possibilities!

Oct. 26, 2005 — Texas A&M Council on Built Environment endorses the relocation (also, supported by MSC Council and Vice President for Student Affairs Dean Bresciani).

Nov. 8, 2005 — Deal is sealed.

Dec. 16, 2005 — Wegener meets with University architect Dan McGuire to come up with preliminary architectural plans for renovating MSC Room 032 for Student Media operations. The challenge: What sort of workspace best attracts and prepares the journalists of tomorrow? How might the Aggieland yearbook, Battalion print, broadcast and online media, and the Student Media professional staff (including a server room, phone closet and storage area) be integrated into 4,000 sq. ft. of space (on three levels)?

Jan. 17, 2006 — For the next six months, plans are shown to everyone Wegener can corral for feedback. So many choices: paint colors, doors and hardware, carpet, linoleum, ceiling tiles, placement of electrical, phone and computer outlets, desks and chairs and their arrangement, fabrics, mini-blinds, TVs, etc. Inspiration from Texas A&M's Bright Football Complex and Wehner Building, University of Oklahoma Gaylord Hall, Savannah Morning News, Washington Post…

June 15, 2006 — Construction begins.

Sept. 15, 2006 — Student Media moves to 032 MSC (assistant general manager Trish Heck and advertising/sales reps pave the way by moving a week earlier). The final Batt from Reed McDonald is produced on Sept. 14. Staff members at 013 RDMC put out the paper on Thursday night (summer EIC Allison Miles, fall-spring EIC Melissa Filbin and Wegener finish packing at 3 a.m.!). Batt staff reports to the MSC newsroom on Sunday the 16th and never misses a beat. Sept. 17 issue is the first Batt from the MSC. Oh, yes, convergence: The Battalion and Aggieland staffs share a common space (except for offices for the editors in chief).

Price tag — $375,000 to demolish, renovate and furnish 032 (funding comes from Student Media)

WHAT'S GREAT ABOUT 032 (according to Batt staffers who also worked in RDMC)?

• Location, location, location
vs. being hidden in basement of a building that nobody knows about
• Technology: new computers, software, plasma televisions, video cameras, etc.
• New furniture
• More efficient use of space
• Proximity between section editors
• Easier to communicate with professional staff
• Regulated temperature
• Multi-purpose media conference room
• Professional: looks more like a newsroom
• Lighter, brighter


It's not just the state-of-the-art facilities, it's the pros who in 2006-2007 joined news adviser Cheri Shipman and students for "JOUR 400" and newsroom "roll-up-the-sleeves" sessions: Michael Landauer, The Dallas Morning News; Michael Mulvey, The Dallas Morning News (Pulitzer Prize winner); Marissa Alanis, The Dallas Morning News; Chris Wilkins, The Dallas Morning News; Bryan Butler, The (Bryan-College Station) Eagle); Doug Pils, San Antonio Express-News; Honny Pils, San Antonio Express-News; Kelly Brown, The (Bryan-College Station) Eagle; Selwyn Crawford, The Dallas Morning News; Sherolyn Carroll, Texas A&M assistant vice president for Communications; Mike MacKenzie, special asst. to the Texas A&M athletic director (Pulitzer Prize winner at Kansas City Star and Times), and James Bernsen, Bernsen Consulting. Also, Dr. Randy Sumpter and 2007 Journalists in Residence: Roy Bragg, San Antonio Express-News; Sue Owen, Austin American-Statesman, and Kathleen McElroy, The New York Times. Daily critiques prepared by Dr. Doug Starr. And, one-hour conversations in the newsroom with Texas A&M Interim President Eddie J. Davis, Head Football Coach Dennis Franchione, and Chief Marketing Officer and VP for Communications Steve Moore and Assistant VP for Business Development Mike Huddleston.

Journalism education is alive and well at Texas A&M.