This week the University of Georgia’s Grady school of journalism took over a real-life on-air TV station. Used to be that UGA’s J-school kids had committed acts of television for a cable-only station in Athens. Now they have an actual FCC-licensed TV station. This means TV viewers in northeast Georgia will be subject to an ongoing TV news experiment. It should be horrifying, amusing and potentially exhilarating.
WNEG’s transmitter is in Toccoa. Occasionally, Channel 32’s news crews would overlap into territory covered by the Atlanta media. The Toccoa station was staffed by youngsters fresh out of places like UGA. Its owner, Media General, sold the station to UGA. Technically, this appears to make WNEG an outlet of state government. This will be an interesting circumstance for the liberal-media-conspiracy set, given the state’s Republican bent.
UGA says the station’s news division will continue its focus on northeast Georgia, basing its operations in Athens and Toccoa.
This has precedent. The Board of Curators of the University of Missouri owns the license to KOMU, a network affiliate that is the training ground for wannabe TV reporters at MU’s J-School. That station is managed by professionals. Its news managers also double as college professors. With the exception of some on-air talent — Paul Pepper is still there? — the news product is produced and reported by students. It’ll likely be much the same for WNEG.
The Red and Black has more details. The move is a good one for UGA’s J-school, which is now churning out legions of youngsters who want to forge careers in the news biz (most of whom appear to be women who aspire to become CNN anchors). By having a commercial station at their disposal, it raises the stakes and throws the students into a professional environment. Once they graduate, that makes them more attractive to station managers in cities like Savannah and Albany, whose low-salary starter shops receive truckloads of resumes from kids straight out of colleges across America.
In honor of this development, tomorrow we may post the worst TV story ever. Yeah, a college student did it.