Tag Archives: University of Maryland

College opens Knight Hall, New Home for the Digital Age

Knight Hall by Ken Wyner

Photo by Ken Wyner.

University Relations
(Release originally posted here.)

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — The university has opened the $30 million new home for the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, reiterating its commitment to the craft in an era of turbulence and change.

John S. and James L. Knight Hall includes 53,400 square feet of high-tech classrooms, multimedia labs, offices and space for professional journalism centers, bringing together all of the college’s programs under one roof. It features lots of open space, glass and light, suggesting the transparency of good journalism. Knight Hall is also the first “green” building on campus. Students began the spring semester there on Jan. 25.

“The state-of-the-art Knight Hall is one of the most exciting new centers for the study and teaching of journalism in the nation. This is a transformational event in the life of our college and our university,” said Dean Kevin Klose.

“We are indebted to the visionary leadership of President [Dan] Mote, and the Maryland legislature, and the generous support of the Philip Merrill family, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and scores of other charitable foundations, alumni and private citizens,” Klose said.

The structure is nearly double the size of the old Journalism Building, built in 1957 for $350,000, when the program comprised 100 students. It never underwent a major renovation even as enrollment expanded to today’s 650 undergraduate and graduate students. Faculty and students have described the building as dark, cramped, poorly ventilated and technologically outdated.

“It’s really hard to do inspired innovation in a cinderblock building,” says Assistant Dean Steve Crane, who oversaw construction since the groundbreaking in May 2008.

Knight Hall offers many architectural nuggets sought by former Dean Thomas Kunkel, starting with the Great Hall, which he called the family room or “hearth” of this new home. The two-story-high lobby extends the length of the building, with front and back doors. Groups of couches, flat-screen TVs, a snack bar and stools at a cyber café-style counter for computer workstations are designed to make this the building’s primary gathering space.

The Great Hall overlooks the East Lawn, a landscaped new courtyard that physically ties the journalism college to the Benjamin Building and Tawes Building and provides a common green space, says Kieran Wilmes ’97 of Grimm + Parker Architects. He and Steve Parker ’72 were the lead architects of the project.

Knight Hall is expected to be the first building at the university to earn a LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, gold rating. It features a high percentage of recycled content in its construction materials as well as regional materials, plumbing fixtures designed to reduce water use by 40 percent, an underground rainwater-collection system that will irrigate the property, and natural daylight providing more than 75 percent of its lighting.

The small and large seminar rooms offer video cameras and microphones that instructors can control to stream their lectures online. The Richard Eaton Broadcast Theater goes a few steps further, with 70 seats, a retractable whiteboard, rear projector, four robotic cameras and field cameras and a control room; it can be used as a classroom or studio.

The “news bubble,” also on the first floor, has been nicknamed the “students’ playground.” Open around the clock, the multimedia lab will offer capabilities for graphic, text and audio creation in a newsroom layout designed to let students work together.

The third floor houses offices and the professional centers: the Journalism Center on Children & Families, Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program, National Association of Black Journalists and American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors. The trade magazine American Journalism Review has moved next door to Tawes Hall, where college-owned cable station UMTV will remain. Fiber lines will connect the university’s TV station to the control room in the Eaton theater.

Studio C, nicknamed the “garage band space” on the top floor of the buildingmay be the most eagerly anticipated part of Knight Hall. Answering the pleas of faculty, Klose redrew the architectural plans to make room for a giant area where students can collaborate on multimedia production. It includes a section of audio recording sound-conditioned booths, a computer lab/classroom and a video studio. It will open later in the spring semester.

“The capabilities that the new studios will offer are what’s going to take our education from pen and paper into the digital age,” says senior Brittany Borghi, co-president of the university’s Society of Professional Journalists chapter.

Crane says the university has to offer these amenities to prospective students to stay competitive.

“There’s the equivalent of an arms race going on between journalism schools. Arizona State has a brand new [journalism] school. So does the University of North Carolina, Kent State, Syracuse, CUNY, and Medill. You go down the list,” he says. “This shows that we’re players and we’re serious, and that the university and the state believe in us.”

The state contributed $16 million to the building, with the rest coming from private donors. The building is named for the brothers who founded Knight Newspapers (forerunner of Knight Ridder), and later the Miami-based Knight Foundation. The foundation has given the university more than $21 million, including $5 million for the journalism school’s new home.

Merrill Students Take First Place in Broadcast Education Association Contest

Merrill College students were recently honored with first place awards in the Broadcast Education Association’s Festival of Media Arts, which featured a record number of student and faculty entries from colleges across the country this year.

Terp Weekly Edition, a radio news show produced by students in the college’s radio broadcasting class, won first place in the radio newscast contest category for a show produced last fall that included reports on use of security cameras in dining halls, a Veterans Day commemoration and a story on breast cancer and how it affects both women and men.

Journalism student Amanda Gaines was honored individually with a first place in the radio hard news category for her election night reporting. Journalism lecturer Sue Kopen Katcef, who teaches the radio class, called the two national first-place finishes “incredible and a real testament to the terrific work of our students.”

The news division also had a record number of entries this year and officials of the contest, which was judged by professionals from across the country, said that finishing in the top of any category is a recognition that the students are truly among the best in the nation.

The BEA Festival of Media Arts is an international exhibition of award-wining faculty and student works chosen in the audio, documentary, interactive multimedia, news, scriptwriting and video categories. A record 878 entries were submitted this year across the 13 faculty and student competitions.

Festival winners will receive recognition and exhibition of their works during BEA’s annual convention in Las Vegas, April 22-25.

CNS Reporter Is Investigative Reporting Finalist

The 2007 CNS D.C. bureau staff, (from left): Michael Walsh, Bobby Carmichael, Danielle Ulman, Rob Tricchinelli, Bureau Director Adrianne Flynn, Dan Lamothe and Anju Kaur. (Newsline photo by Raechal Leone).

The 2007 CNS D.C. bureau staff, (from left): Michael Walsh, Bobby Carmichael, Danielle Ulman, Rob Tricchinelli, Bureau Director Adrianne Flynn, Dan Lamothe and Anju Kaur. (Newsline photo by Raechal Leone).

Anju Kaur, a reporter in the Philip Merrill College of Journalism’s Capital News Service, has been named a finalist in the 2007 Investigative Reporters and Editors contest for her stories on the state’s abysmal record of disciplining attorneys.

Kaur becomes the seventh CNS reporter since 2000 to win a finalist spot in the student category of the annual IRE contest, which is open to students nationwide.

Kaur’s stories, more than a year in the making, showed that while the state’s Attorney Grievance Commission swiftly disbarred attorneys faced with the most grievous complaints, overall disciplinary actions were small and falling fast.

Her reporting also showed that many attorneys who repeatedly cheated, lied, stole or abandoned their clients did so for years without suffering any real consequence. Even a man who killed his client’s wife’s kitten in a microwave was still allowed to practice.

Kaur spent almost a year getting the attorney discipline data from the commission, which initially denied keeping such records and then admitted it had the data but claimed it was private and confidential.

After repeated conversations, Public Information Act requests and meetings, the commission finally agreed to release a copy of its file of sanctioned attorneys, which Kaur was able to turn into the heart of her stories.

She found that a profession that polices itself does very little disciplining of its own people. Kaur reported that the number of lawyers sanctioned by the state has fallen sharply in the last decade, with only 57 of the state’s 33,018 lawyers disbarred, suspended or reprimanded in the last fiscal year.

Her data also showed that less than a quarter of all complaints against lawyers were even investigated. Nearly half of the investigated complaints were “closed administratively” and only a third of the remaining cases received any kind of discipline.

After fighting Kaur for months over access to its records, the commission’s data custodian ultimately asked Kaur for a copy of her database and told her it would be used as the commission’s new internal database.

Kaur was a reporter last fall in the Washington, D.C., bureau of Capital News Service, the College’s student-staffed wire service with bureaus in Washington and Annapolis that feed a daily digest of news to clients around the state. She earned her master’s degree in journalism in December, and returned to edit SikhNN.com, a Sikh-oriented news site that she founded.