Tag Archive | "news"

OutCasting radio program gives voice to LGBTQ youth at MSU

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OutCasting radio program gives voice to LGBTQ youth at MSU


OutCasters at the main studio in Westchester County, New York. Courtesy of Marc Sophos.

OutCasters at the main studio in Westchester County, New York. Courtesy of Marc Sophos.

The voices of LGBTQ Spartans and straight allies can be heard on public radio stations across the country via Michigan State University’s bureau of OutCasting, a LGBTQ youth radio program created by MSU Telecommunications alumnus Marc Sophos.

In 2006, while working at WDFH, his radio station in Westchester County, New York, Sophos came up with the idea of starting OutCasting after a foundation approached him about funding a program for underrepresented constituencies.

“In public radio, there are youth programs and there is a LGBTQ program, but there is no LGBTQ youth program,” Sophos said.

The inspiration to create this kind of program was encouraged in part by Sophos’ own experience as a gay man. He wanted to offer a platform for younger people to embrace their voices and express themselves.

“I know what it was like to be closeted and not be able to express anything, not be able to talk about it,” said Sophos. “It’s a different time now than it was when I was growing up because of the Internet but still there’s a need for people to be able to speak out and to do journalism on these issues and in some cases talk about their own experiences.”

The young contributors – high school and college age – produce six to eight programs a year for public broadcast. In addition to that they also record shorter, more frequent segments online called OutCasting OffAir, which has recently covered topics like gender norms and what it means to come out today.

After organizing and leading the program at two locations in New York, Sophos got the idea to bring the program to his alma mater after a visit to campus with his husband, Doug, a couple of years ago. They were in the Student Union where Sophos remembered the LBGT Resource Center had once been located on the fourth floor. They discovered that the location had changed, but he continued his search and eventually met with the director of the Center, DeAnna Hurlbert, a big fan of public radio, according to Sophos.

“We sort of just started batting around the idea for opening an MSU bureau,” said Sophos. “From November of 2014 through last September, a lot of the groundwork was laid and we had an informational meeting in September, a year ago, and that’s when Kayl and four other people got involved.”

Kayl Black, a sophomore member of OutCasting, said that the group is in the process of reaching out to different LGBTQ organizations around campus and students to expand their reach and spread the word about what it means to be an “OutCaster.” 

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New Media Center at ComArtSci brings creative opportunities to students

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New Media Center at ComArtSci brings creative opportunities to students


rianna2A new media center to drive students’ ingenuity and inspire collaborative work is under construction in the Communication Arts and Sciences building at Michigan State University. According to ComArtSci Weekly, the college’s weekly newsletter for students, this new space will include a newsroom, motion capture lab and a game design studio.

The space was temporarily up and running on Nov. 8 to cover the 2016 Presidential Election. MSU has famously covered elections at the College of Communication Arts and Sciences in the past, including the 2012 election.

Prabu David, dean of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences, shared the story behind the creation of the space.

“The inspiration came for (the media center) when I was in Los Angeles,” David said. “One of our alums runs a major ad agency. When I walked into this building, it was beautiful. You could see all kinds of young people working on creative projects. There was a certain buzz. The very moment I stepped in, I thought, ‘We should capture this.’”

Lucinda Davenport, director of the School of Journalism, said that a typical day in the newsroom will be full of activity because the student-produced TV news programs will be shot there, students will be doing photo shoots, making videos, creating voiceovers for radio and activities of all different types.

“There is a space in this room for almost every process of the story to happen to completion,” Davenport said.Troy Hale, a film and broadcast news professor at MSU, supported the idea of creating the media center’s newsroom. His vision for the space stemmed from the excitement and energy of 200 students and faculty working together four years ago during the previous “MI First Election.”

“I said to (Lucinda Davenport), ‘We need to have this everyday,’” Hale said.

Hale said that other than covering the November election, the newsroom will be used by classes to develop a daily news cast that will incorporate all mediums: print, online, broadcast and radio by January 2017.

According to David, a student will be able to sit in front of an anchor desk, turn the probiotic camera and lights on and stream live.

According to Hale, anchor, teleprompter and performance training will be necessary to get students ready for the newsroom.

“Students and professors will step up what they’re doing,” Hale said. “If you work in a new environment, you will work up to that level.” 

Stacey Fox, transdisciplinary artist in residence, was the force behind the addition of a motion-capture studio in the media center.

Fox said the College of Communication Arts and Sciences will be offering a motion capture class, open to all MSU students in Spring 2017, that would be great for actors, dancers, athletes, animators and others. Motion capture is proving to have an increasing presence at the college and the space will allow for versatile opportunities to learn.  

rianna1According to Fox, the motion capture studio coming to ComArtSci is unique. Unlike other systems, the equipment will be markerless, meaning that students won’t need to put on special suits or white markers on their joints to help the camera capture their movements. The system can also capture students exactly the way they look in 3D or take their movements and put that on any character. The equipment can also motion capture a student and put them into any environment.

Fox believes motion capture technology has a vital role in journalism because students can be motion captured in the studio and then put on the lawn of the White House, the United Nations Convention or the scene of a hurricane.

“We can – in real time, live – motion capture you and put you into any virtual reality environment. For news, let’s say we have the virtual reality environment of a storm scene. We can capture a student journalist and put them in that scene like they’re there in real time,” Fox said.

Students can also recreate moments in history through virtual reality. If Barack Obama came to the studio, for example, students could archive his voice and motion. Years later, another student can put on goggles and have a conversation with Obama as if they had been there with him. Fox said this is the concept of immersive journalism, where immersive environments are created and viewed by the public.

Fox believes that the media center will provide students with access to state of the art technology and the opportunity to experience what the professional industry workflow of a newsroom is like before they go out into the real world.

David spoke about how journalism is in dire need of new models and the millennials of this college generation are going to find them with their familiarity of multimedia.

The dean believes students can gain skills in the new space including journalism, television, radio, social media, interactive design, animation and game design.

“We do so much good work in our classrooms but it’s all hidden behind brick walls. We’re tearing down the walls and creating this beautiful environment,” said David. “You see the great work being done in the classrooms, the technology that students have access to, the innovative ideas of the future.”

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Opinion: Middle East is Old News

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Opinion: Middle East is Old News


As the wars in the Middle East have lingered on through eight years, students and faculty alike have been impacted directly or indirectly by the war. The idea of war in the Middle East seems to be stale, forgotten and unimportant.

Yet not too long ago eight American soldiers were killed in southern Afghanistan by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). IED’s are a major concern of the U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, as they cannot easily be detected and defended against.  For this very reason, a new deployment of 3,000 troops was approved by the U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Still, a violent war continues to rage on the other side of the world. Troops and civilians are still dying and mass amounts of money are still being spent, though the signs at home point the other direction.  The campus of Michigan State University shows few signs of the lasting war; bumper stickers on cars reading “Support our Troops” are becoming more infrequent and there are no chalk drawings across the sidewalks proclaiming approval of U.S. business overseas.  Even the ultimate sign of love for one’s country, the American flag, is hardly ever seen taped to a dorm room window or hanging from the side of a house.  The patriotism of students and faculty is not in question here, but the general consensus of the war is, and waivers with each passing day.

Headlines in newspapers still report the status of places like Afghanistan and Iraq, but they don’t lay claim to the American advance over the miles of sand or keep a daily tally of the troops that were wounded or killed in action.  The papers deliver news of bombings or a large weapon cache stumbled upon, but the days of a glorified GI Joe are over and the average individual residing stateside is moving on, leaving behind them a Vietnam-like wake.

The behavior of suppressing one’s expression of approval for the war, whether it be a student or any other American is typical, according to Barry Stein, is a professor of Political Science at Michigan State and holds a doctorate.

“Eight years into a war, you’re not going to have people showing support”.

Part of the course reading for Stein’s War and Revolution class is the New York Times, enabling students to stay up to date on global news.  Stressing global events is important to a student’s education.  These are the issues that students will inherit firsthand once they make the transition into the workforce, and being properly acquainted with them is only the first step to diagnosing and treating them.  Still, action among students is a little more rare than some would think.

For there to be a student movement at MSU, Stein points out that there would have to be some significant opposition in the Middle East, something would have to entice support in order to rekindle the emotions felt at the beginning of the war.  Dr. Stein also agrees that there was much more support at the beginning of the war in Afghanistan than there is currently and it continues to fade.

When news of a war goes stagnant for long periods of time, it’s hard to keep it at the front of your mind, to see it as real, to embrace it and appreciate the sacrifices made for it.  That is, unless you have direct ties to the war.  By this account, support for a war is thus relative to the time that has elapsed since its beginning.  Either way there will always be strong pro-war supporters and anti-war supporters whether it started yesterday or like the U.S., is nearly a decade into it.  The long span of time that this war has endured takes its toll on students in other ways as well.

Many people would agree that the sooner the war in the Middle East ends, the better it will be for America as a whole, especially its economy.  That being said, the impacts of the war are prying into the wallets and pocketbooks of students already piled knee high in loans and other debt.

This problem may hit home harder for some more than others, with Michigan being one of the states most affected by the economic crisis in the country.  It’s no surprise that concerns surrounding the U.S. military budget overseas sits at the top of the list for students paying for college as the U.S. government funds a war.  The deficit created by this budget detracts from the government funding allocated to public universities.  As a result, less university funding means more money being shelled out per student, which does not help their financial situations.  Though this is an impending fear for many, students can take solace in the fact that they aren’t alone.  This is a problem being dealt with across the state, the country, and world.

The hope for a quick solution may be a far cry from reality. However, Stein says we better settle in for the long haul.

“There’s still a lot of debate going on around Afghanistan, so I don’t see an end in sight”.

This may be a discouraging statement to some people hoping for the hasty return of American troops and the end of major U.S. presence in the Middle East.  Maybe the absence of a visible student support network calls for a voice in the crowd to renew the spark of an old cause.  Maybe it’s a sign that the efforts of the U.S. are feudal and simply circle each other continuously.  Or it could quite possibly show that many a person have been lulled to sleep by the constant and monotonous stream of data coming at us from different angles and different news media.  Most students seem to have a decent grasp of the world around them both locally and of foreign nature.  Putting this knowledge into action, whether it’s right or wrong, is still an issue that many believe it deserves more attention than it’s getting.

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