At the Aug. 15 Board of Trustees meeting, junior journalism major James Krause, who is also a sports writer for the Northern Star, and communication graduate student Konstanze Fowler spoke on their disappointment in the Department of Communication’s closing of the Northern Television Center, announced in July.
Fowler said she will be a teaching assistant for Journalism 356, a class previously taught at the NTC, 123 Stadium Drive. As a high school graduate, she chose to attend NIU because of the high-quality NTC studio, she said.
“It doesn’t feel like school,” she said of working at the NTC. “It feels like you’re helping a real news studio.”
She said moving the NTC’s equipment to Watson Hall is a downgrade.
“There’s not a ton of alumni here today; it’s actually only three students,” Krause said at the meeting. “That’s because a lot of them are working, thanks in part to experience they got at the Northern Television Center.”
NTC alumni include Matt Knutson, executive producer of Windy City Live, WGN-TV Reporter Marcus LeShock and Pat Goselle, editor and videographer for Chicago Cubs Productions.
Krause said broadcast journalism students are angry and frustrated at the department’s decision.
In July, the Department of Communication announced it was closing the NTC and relocating its classes. Journalism 354 will be taught in DuSable Hall, Room 218, and Journalism 356 will be taught in Watson Hall, Room 222, according to MyNIU.
Journalism 354 will be taught by Jenna Dooley, news director at WNIJ. Journalism 356 did not have a professor listed on MyNIU, as of Sunday. The department did not respond to a requests to comment on how Journalism 356 will be taught this year.
“If we just let the whole program be defined by the local TV news model at the expense of others, I think that would be a disservice to our students,” Department Chair Mehdi Semati said in an interview with the Northern Star.
Semati said the department questioned whether it was worth maintaining both the NTC and the studio space in Watson Hall.
The NTC served as the university’s computer center until the 1970s when it was converted into a production facility for the broadcast journalism program.
Semati said the building’s age leaves it susceptible to blackouts and flooding.
The move was met with a groundswell of NTC alumni and current students advocating to keep the building open. Knutson started keepntcopen.org and a petition on change.org urging the department not to close the building.
The petition has more than 1,900 signees as of Sunday.
In an interview with the Northern Star, Knutson said he had reached out to the department and offered fundraising support to maintain the building, alumni-produced promotional material to recruit students for the NTC and offered to form an alumni council to advise the department on future matters concerning broadcast journalism.
He has not heard back, according to keepntcopen.org.
Board chairperson Dennis Barsema said the board gave the administration a tough financial goal this fiscal year, and the decision to close the NTC rests on them.
“[NIU President Lisa Freeman] makes no decision in a vacuum,” he said. “I am quite confident that the decision they came to, they all felt was the right and the necessary decision for everybody involved, including the students on a long term basis.”
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name "Konstanze Fowler."