New Technology for New Journalists by Laura Esposito

  • Budding journalists at Colorado State University in Fort Collins will be introduced to a new technology in their undergraduate classrooms beginning in Fall 2010—the Flip Video, also known as the Flip cam.
  • Founded in 1968 and accredited since 1972, the journalism department at CSU is one of 13 departments within the College of Liberal Arts, the largest college out of eight. Among other distinctions, the department prides itself in offering the best technology for new journalists.
  • The department attracts over 500 students to five concentrations that include, Public Relations, Specialized and Technical Communication, News/Editorial, Computer Mediated Communications, and Television News and Video Communication.
  • The Flip Video was developed by Pure Digital Technologies, which was later bought by Cisco Systems in March of 2009 for $590 million in stock, according to the New York Times in 2009.
  • Vance said that since the creation of Flip products in 2007, the company had sold more than two million devices by March of 2009.

Why Flip?

This device caught the eye of many within the journalism department at CSU, and for the last two years the department has considered integrating the device into the curriculum.

The appeal of the Flip cam is the built-in USB device that allows users to plug directly into a computer to upload and edit video without the hassle of extra cords.

Greg Luft, the journalism department chair at CSU, believes that the device would be beneficial to students within all five concentrations.

“We have been advancing our curriculum for the past eight years or so to keep up with technology requirements in the communications field. We will require each student in our JTC 211 Computer Mediated Communication class to own a small video camera so that all students will have access to a device that can record video, still photos, and audio. We believe that visual and audio communication skills are needed by all graduates who seek careers in communication,” said Luft.

Also since the creation of the Flip Video in 2007, companies like Sony and Kodak have been quick to jump on the idea of mimicking the Flip cam and creating their own versions.

For this reason, Luft said that CSU will not purchase the new devices until late August so they can research the market and decide which device from which company would be best for the students.

Flip Video offers five models of the device that range from one to four hours of video capture and the option of making the camcorder HD. Each device offers individual LCD screen size, internal memory size, resolution, a personalized image for the outside of the camera, etc.

The professors' plan

The department has decided to purchase the devices and increase student fees by $150. By purchasing the devices themselves, the department will receive a discount for purchasing in bulk. The professors who teach 211 can then be trained to teach the students about one specific model.

Students will be responsible for the maintenance and warranties on their own, according to Luft.

“I think Flip cameras will definitely help students,” said Baldwin, “It's not journalism anymore, its multimedia. The more well rounded you are the better. If someone knows how to write [that ’s] good. But if someone knows how to write, edit, film, film edit, and update a website with both the writing and film, then you are set.”

Jack Lovelace, a professor at CSU, who specializes in writing, reporting and opinion writing, said that he could integrate the technology into his News/Editorial classes.

The payoff

The necessary fee increase is not the most ideal situation to have in today’s struggling economy, but Lovelace believes that it will be beneficial for students in the long run.

“I think with tuition increases it is always tough to ask students for more money. But I do think they will get value from the Flip cams. News editorial needs journalists to always think of stories in terms of words and pictures. It has always been that way but with the Internet and web world, now more than ever,” said Lovelace.

Laura Esposito is an AV Technology intern based in Colorado.

The AVNetwork staff are storytellers focused on the professional audiovisual and technology industry. Their mission is to keep readers up-to-date on the latest AV/IT industry and product news, emerging trends, and inspiring installations.