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Workforce Readiness in Media Production: Professional Tools and Experience at BMCC

The Borough of Manhattan Community College, a City University of New York (CUNY) campus, was one of the nation’s first colleges to build and maintain an HDTV studio incorporating state-of-the-art technology. Coupled with such professional-level tools, the rigorous communications curriculum at BMCC is rooted in a strong liberal arts core with business, career planning, and a variety of media courses. While BMCC expects all students to earn a Bachelor’s degree, it also prepares them for direct entry into the broadcast and television workforce. Every student is exposed to professional workflows in both field and studio settings.

The BMCC program provides direct access to the same audio and video technologies that support today’s top professional newsgathering and broadcast teams. BMCC invested in Avid Media Composer video editing and ISIS shared storage systems as a game-changing move to expose students to real production workflows. BMCC’s professional, state-of-the-art video facility features the Unity ISIS shared storage system and 15 Media Composer systems. The TV and audio studios include Media Composer and Pro Tools music creation and audio production systems. A separate sound production area in the Media Center also offers student access to the Pro Tools system. Being familiar with industry-standard solutions helps BMCC graduates seamlessly transition from student to professional.

Boot Camp Adds Reality to Dream Technologies

BMCC joined the CUNY-CBS TV Boot Camp program to expand further on the hands-on experiences it offers students--taking a step beyond the technology to include networking and learning opportunities with industry professionals, including many from CBS. Boot Camp is a special program offered by CUNY that creates a student-led edition of “60 Minutes,” allowing students to gain real-world experience producing broadcast-quality news magazine pieces. Boot Camp gives students from CUNY campuses the opportunity to engage in an intensive production process under the guidance of seasoned professionals. BMCC embraces the idea that one of the best ways to learn the television production business is to experience it firsthand.

Boot Camp has an illustrious history. CUNY alumni and industry leaders teamed up in 2001 to create a television boot camp. Warren Lustig, an award-winning editor/producer for “CBS Evening News,” “60 Minutes,” and “60 Minutes II” and Michael Arena, the college’s media director and Pulitzer Prize recipient in journalism designed an accelerated program to give talented students the chance to work as professional broadcast journalists. Under Lustig’s leadership, these students experience the same working conditions, demands, and deadlines as those faced by news teams at CBS “60 Minutes.” Four CUNY campuses are invited to send a team of four students and a faculty advisor to Boot Camp. Each team has just two weeks to produce a magazine-style news segment in the format of “60 Minutes.” Boot Camp students gain the kind of experience it usually takes years in the profession to glean.

Four top students in BMCC’s Video Arts and Technology program are offered the opportunity to participate in this once-in-a-lifetime experience. In 2009, four second-year students accepted the challenge: Diane Ingino and Cindy Sanabria as co-producers, Evyatar Gour as on-air correspondent, and Seyoung Bae as editor and cameraman. The four BMCC students collaborated and decided on a story, “What’s Eating New York,” about the deterioration of the docks and wharves around the city due to microscopic marine borers. [Find out more about Boot Camp at the CUNY-CBS TV Boot Camp site.]

For these BMCC students, participating in the Boot Camp program was one giant step towards entering a real-world working environment, coming full circle with BMCC’s goal to enable hands-on experience with industry tools and narrow the gap between student and professional. Access to the right technology and mentoring relationships helped students hone the skills they need to succeed in the face of the ever-evolving technology climate of the broadcast TV industry.

About the Author

John Gallagher is director of the Media Center at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY.

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