New Communications, Media department chair has bold ideas for future journalists at LU


Film. Broadcasting. Public Relations. Radio. All things… media. The Lamar University Department of Communication and Media is a dynamic department that aspires to empower students in the pursuit of a professional career in communications and media. The department offers LU students hands-on experience in media through the departments three media outlets: LUTV, University Press and KVLU Radio.

After wrapping up his first semester as the new department chair, Dr.Tony DeMars shares his future vision for the Department of Communication and Media and his plans to help LU students build a strong foundation for a career in media.

“We're not a vocational program and we're not just teaching students the skills. We're teaching them the theory, the foundation and we’re trying to help them be good professionals in the industry,” he said. “What we do want to think about are ways that we can do that in an efficient manner while it also has a positive impact for the students.”

‘We’re not changing LUTV, we're simply enhancing it to make it a part of interacting with all of the student media on campus.’

LUTV is a bi-weekly newscast produced in the Department of Communication and Media broadcast course. Broadcast students are required to pitch, shoot, write and edit news stories each week for the station’s 30-minute program and online content. Although only offered in the spring semester, throughout the years the broadcasting course, taught by LUTV Studio Producer Gordon Williams, has become a favorite among communication students. DeMars plans to allow students of all majors participate in the course as volunteers on media projects. 
Tony DeMars
Dr. Tony DeMars

“In a lot of ways, the class limits us to who can be involved. The model of letting it be the student media operations opens it up to let anybody who wants to be involved come and be involved for this semester,” DeMars said. “I also don’t want students to feel as if they are missing out since they won’t be able to take the LUTV course in the fall semester –– they will still have the opportunity for hands-on experience through KVLU, University Press and freelance.” We're not changing LUTV, we're simply enhancing it to make it part of interacting with all of the student media on campus.”
DeMars said that all communication and media students will be able to participate in practicum and lab activities adding that his plan for the fall semester is simple. Instead of working as separate groups, all student media outlets will now work together and, when there’s an event on campus, student media outlets are the first on the scene.

‘It's about pulling these entities together so that when we go out to cover a story, we're covering it as the media of our university.’

“When we have something going on, on campus, students in LUTV should be out there covering that as a news reporter,” he said. “What sometimes has happened in the past though is they cover that story and it goes into the LUTV operations, but it never really gets into University Press, and UP would have to send their students over there separately to cover the story. We’re going to change that. Now, students will be cross-posting to all student media outlets.”
University Press is the student newspaper of Lamar University and is one of the largest student-run businesses on campus. Throughout the years, the publication has garnered attention nationally winning more than 1,200 awards and competing yearly in the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association, the Press Club of Southeast Texas, the Houston-area chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and others, regularly earning awards against seasoned professional journalists.

“We have UP that has been the University Press student newspaper operation, that went from being a printed paper to being an online version. We do a lot of overlapping things and they all have a connection to the department,” he said. “So, the vision is to pull those entities together more, and get them working together more.”
KVLU is a service of Lamar University and a National Public Radio affiliate station located on campus that serves as a learning facility for communication and media students. Students gain hands-on experience through developing educational and cultural programming while working with experienced staff at the station. DeMars said that pulling all student media together will provide students, and student-media volunteers, with more hands-on industry skills creating a stronger networked society and making communications and media students more marketable in the field.
“We're all the same entity and in the media world, in these last couple of decades, especially, we got into a thing called Convergence. It is about synergies. It's about pulling these entities together so that when we go out to cover a story, we're covering it as the media of our university,” he said. “We’ll have that social media component, broadcast component, broadcast meaning film-based connections, video, radio, the website and so forth. The operation is on-going and it’s an exciting time for our communication and media students here at Lamar University.”
Learn more about the Department of Communication and Media