RTE broadcaster and Adjunct Professor in Public Service Broadcast Journalism at the University of Limerick, Bryan Dobson, opened a new television studio at the University of Limerick this week.
The new TV studio is part of an expansion of the University’s Journalism Department and it’s professional equipment reflects the €25,000 furnish.
The studio, which came about as part of a collaboration with the Information Technology Division, includes a number of industry standard cameras, lighting and backdrop equipment suitable for television news production.
Mr Dobson said he was “thrilled to be here on this particular occasion” on a day that “marks a further step forward in acquiring the tools to compete in the marketplace and to operate at the highest level.”
Speaking about the importance of obtaining a variety of skills in the journalism field of today, Mr Dobson said, “When I got into broadcasting you could have a career in radio or television or you could have a career exclusively in print. That’s just not the way the world is now. All of you that go out to work in journalism in the years ahead will need to be able to apply skills in print, online, audio and television.”
Mr Dobson told the story of how the TV studio had been a vision of former President of the University of Limerick, Ed Walsh, over 20 years ago.
“Three years ago I was appointed to this role and when I first visited UL I was brought down to this area here and was shown this room which at the time was an empty space.”
“The story that I was told, and that I think is a fascinating one, is that when this building was being constructed 20 or more years ago, the then president of UL, Ed Walsh, said I want to include in the plans radio studios and a television studio,” he said.
Mr Dobson continued to say that at the time there was no journalism school and no communications courses. Mr Walsh believed that in the future there would be journalism students and they would need radio and television facilities.
“I think its extraordinary that his vision was applied all those years ago and I think its a testament, not just to Ed Walsh, but to the tradition that he handed down that UL is a university that’s always looking to the future. As we stand here this is the proof that the vision which was born by Ed Walsh all those years ago is very much alive,” he said.
Mr Dobson expressed the importance that journalism schools, such as UL, produce journalism graduates who are trained to the highest level possible in the skills that are necessary for the profession and to understand that the journalists role is to “continue to fight for independent quality serious journalism.”
“We live in an environment in which we’re told that we’re going to have to cope with post-truth politics where the principles that we as journalists stand for, which is accuracy and fairness and truth, are constantly under attack,” he said.
“We all know the difficulties faced in newspapers, my own industry, all of us have enormous challenges ahead continuing to generate the revenue to do the business that we do but also to defend the principles that we underpin the work of journalists that have gone before us and whom we are, if you like, the custodians of. I think that’s an important task for all of us in the journalism world in the years ahead and we need to be equipped with all the available tools to be able to meet those challenges,” he continued.
Mr Dobson wished the students and faculty success with the studio and expressed his enthusiasm to work with students on his return to carry out workshops in the coming year.
Head of Journalism, Dr Fergal Quinn thanked Mr Dobson for his generosity, time and ability to engage students and pass on his practical knowledge.
“He has has been a huge asset to our subject. He really has gone above and beyond the call of duty in terms of this role for us here in UL so I just want to put on the record our thanks to him,” said Dr Quinn.
Dr Quinn outlined his hopes for the studio in the upcoming year and expressed his thanks to all those involved in making the TV studio happen.
“This year’s fourth years and MA students would really bring this on further when we get stuck into TV journalism modules after Christmas. I’m really expecting great things from you,” he said.
Head of School of Culture and Communications, Tadhg O hIfearnain spoke about the importance of the facility as evidence that the investment in journalism is to make “facilities in the tools that are necessary both for professional and academic training.”
“I think it’s also perhaps a way for journalism to be engaged more with the campus community,” he said.
“We also cannot forget to thank Fergal and his journalism team, including the Adjunct Professor, for their own commitment too in making this facility happen,” he concluded.
The TV studio space and equipment will be used by fourth year and MA students as part of their TV news production and training in the coming year.