Student-run TV-8 to air 20th-anniversary special

By Amy Vanerheyden

TV-8, one of the most comprehensive media programs in the state, will be celebrating its 20th anniversary Monday.

Retired Journalism Professor Robert LaConto is credited with coming up with the idea of TV-8 and cultivating it into a well- respected program giving students hands on media experience.

To celebrate the gala event, TV-8 will air an anniversary special. The broadcast will include interviews with Robert LaConto and alumni and will show behind-the-scenes activities at the station.

TV-8 utilizes the skills of students from the journalism, communications, geology and art departments cohesively to produce a nightly newscast, which is aired on local cable stations in the area.

TV-8 has won numerous awards. The Illinois News Broadcasters Association sponsors a contest annually involving all the student chapters. Each year NIU enters a newscast into the competition. Some of NIU’s competitors come from Southern Illinois University, Eastern Illinois University, Illinois State University and Western Illinois University. Despite the stiff competition, TV-8 has come away with first and third place awards.

Students who are involved with the program put in a full day of work. The average day of a reporter starts at 9 a.m. and ends at 6 p.m., five days a week. The reporter is assigned stories and will do two to five interviews a day traveling in the DeKalb and Sycamore area. After gathering all the information, reporters must write and edit their stories in preparation for the nightly newscast.

The objective of the program is for students to experience the pressures of a real newsroom firsthand by having to deal with deadlines.

Amy Wais, assignment editor at the program, thinks TV-8 is a valuable experience for students who go through the program.

“What I think is really neat about it is that it is a very comprehensive program,” Wais said. “The staff is here everyday, all day, and it really preps them for going into a real newsroom.”

Students receive 12 credit hours for the program. TV-8 combines three different classes that are graded by a professor, the news director, and a teaching assistant.

Currently, TV-8 has students interning for the Jerry Springer Show in Chicago, Chicagoland TV in Oakbrook and network affiliates in Rockford and Peoria.

In addition to internships, TV-8 helps graduates obtain jobs through alumni. When there are openings, alumni from small markets come to TV-8 in search of graduates who are looking for a job.