The 2018-2019 academic school year marks 100 years of Southern Miss’ student run newspaper, The Student Printz. The Student Media Center, located on the third floor of College Hall, houses The Student Printz newsroom, radio station WUSM-FM, The Agency at Southern Miss and South City Records.
Before College Hall’s $6.3 million renovation in 2011, all of mass communication and journalism operations were scattered throughout Southern Hall, the Department of Mathematics, McCain Library and McLemore Hall.
With the academic reorganization currently underway at Southern Miss, the offices that were created specifically for students to use are at risk of being given to faculty.
If the offices dedicated to students are given to faculty, more than 45 people will be forced to share the workspace designed for no more than 10 to 15 people.
During the College Hall renovation, mass communication and journalism professor Christopher Campbell, Ph.D., was the director of the department. Campbell said the faculty realizes that graduates of the program built their portfolios from working in the Student Media Center.
“We expect the third floor will be a 24-7 operation, with students working at the Printz, radio station and in the TV and recording studios. Learning to work collaboratively in a setting like this is going to make them very marketable when they graduate,” Campbell said.
Campbell went on to say at the time that putting the various media operations on the same floor was intentional.
“Media technology and the business of media are changing, and students need to gain experience across platforms,” Campbell said. “We wanted to encourage students to work across those platforms, so we have a radio station, newspaper, TV studio, recording studio and our other media operations all in the same space. This is what good programs do. We looked at places like Arizona State and Syracuse as models. It’s one of the reasons those programs are experiencing enrollment growth.”
When Campbell was the director of the department, the consolidation of all media operations into one building was a plan with a high amount of promise. According to Campbell, “The mass communication and journalism faculty recognizes the importance of the work that students do outside of the classroom. In some ways, it’s more important than the work that goes on in the classroom,” Campbell said.
However, the consolidation took away a significant amount of workspace. Further condensing the newsroom would cause stressed interactions between the newspaper and radio station. The Student Media Center was established for the sole purpose of being used by students. If the newsroom is condensed or moved all together, the original purpose of the space in the first place will be lost.