Center for New Media

Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Professors and campaign professionals gathered at the Belo Center for New Media on Wednesday to dissect and analyze Tuesday’s election results at an event hosted by the New Politics Forum at the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life.

Election Day in Texas saw Republican candidates win all statewide races with large, double-digit margins. At Wednesday’s election debriefing, Regina Lawrence, journalism professor and Strauss Institute director, said voter turnout is what makes the democratic process effective.

“Elections are kind of an imperfect way of measuring the will of the people, and they get less and less perfect, the fewer and fewer people who show up,” Lawrence said. “In a way, elections are all about who shows up.”

Lawrence said the election Tuesday demonstrated the increasing popularity of early voting in Texas.

Actually we saw, in a continued trend, an increase in early voting so that we had about one-third of Texas registered voters actually voting before yesterday,” Lawrence said.

Voter turnout across the state has been low, but Lawrence said Texas had the lowest turnout in the country in 2010.

“I’m here to tell you that the early returns suggest that Texas was not dead last yesterday,” Lawrence said.

Ross Ramsey, executive editor and co-founder of The Texas Tribune, said turnout is always an issue when it comes to election time.

“There’s a big emphasis in politics, not just in this campaign, but in a lot of places on voter registration and the importance of voter registration,” Ramsey said. “Voter registration doesn’t matter if you can’t peel them off the couch when its time to vote.”

Lawrence said despite the meager voter turnout, there were more open races on Tuesday than there has been in Texas since 1906.

“So we had a really historic opportunity for voter engagement, but we saw it unmet,” Lawrence said. 

Young voters are commonly the most underrepresented, and, according to Lawrence, this year was no different. Lawrence said her experience in the classroom has given her an idea of why this occurs.

“I can tell you, at least anecdotally, over the years of teaching, that the young people that I teach tell me again and again that one of the biggest reasons that they do not vote consistently is that they don’t feel informed enough,” Lawrence said. 

Lawrence said young voters might also vote less than other age groups because they feel isolated from the major political parties.

“Of course, we know that for many young people, these days particularly, there’s not as much of a strong connection to political parties, to those traditional political identities of democrat and republican,” Lawrence said.

Edward Espinoza, executive director of the Texas Research Institute, said there was little the Democrats could have done to fend off Republican

“Had the Latino outreach been better, that would have taken [Democrats] from 39 percent to maybe 43 percent, but there was no stopping that wave,” Espinsoza said.

Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalists and UT alumni Judy Walgren (left), Lucian Perkins and Meredith Kohut speak about their photojournalism careers at the Belo Center for New Media. Throughout the discussion, each of the panelist said that photography it is much more than having a photographic eye, but more about connecting to the people they photograph.

Photo Credit: Claire Schaper | Daily Texan Staff

Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalists Lucian Perkins, Judy Walgren, as well as famed photojournalists Eli Reed, Dennis Darling and Meredith Kohut talked about their experiences in photojournalism at a panel discussion in the Belo Center for New Media on Thursday.

At the “Through the Lens” panel, hosted by the School of Journalism, Perkins spoke about the beginning of his career, when he was a photojournalist for The Daily Texan. He said one of the greatest internships he had was at The Washington Post. Besides doing what was asked of him at the internship, he was constantly looking for stories to pitch. He said his experience at the internship led to a job at the Post for 27 years.

“It’s all about ideas,” Perkins said. “And educating yourself to go where you want to go.”

According to Walgren, one of her first projects was looking for hidden wars. She said these wars were hidden mostly because it was difficult to cover those wars.

She showed photographs she took in Africa and Colorado and said they document how people would live around these places despite the conflicts that surrounded them.

“I found out that photojournalism is sheer will,” Walgren said. “I didn’t have a good eye at photography. I just wanted to change the world.”

Kohut said she took pictures of children going across the Guatemalan border. She said she found out it was not an immigration crisis, but that the children were refugees. Kohut said it was challenging for her to tell that story.

“You have figure out how to make things work,” Kohut said. “It’s not about being able to take a picture but about being able to solve problems.”

Perkins talked about an assignment in Macedonia that involved refugees from the region. He said he realized that government corruption could cause conflict almost anywhere. 

Freelance photojournalist Felicia Graham said part of the job of a photojournalist is to deliver a product no matter the location.

“I do think it is difficult to shoot at different locations, while being a photojournalist,” Graham said. “But you cannot publish an excuse. We have a job in which we can’t just not show up. When it comes to photojournalism, you have to be there.”

International relations junior Sarah Wilson studies at the Flawn Academic Center on Monday afternoon. Student Government representatives have proposed extended hours for both the Flawn Academic Center and the Belo Center for New Media.

Photo Credit: Ethan Oblak | Daily Texan Staff

Students looking for late-night study spots when the Perry-Castañeda Library is packed may be in luck. Student Government representatives proposed two resolutions requesting more late-night study options on campus.

The first resolution calls for extended hours at the Belo Center for New Media. The Moody College of Communication building located on the corner of Dean Keeton and Guadalupe streets is currently open until 11 p.m. If the resolution is implemented in the building, it may be open until 2 a.m. all week.

The second proposed resolution is in support of opening the Flawn Academic Center on a 24/7 basis. This semester, the FAC is open until midnight on weekdays until finals week, when it becomes open for 24 hours.

The recent proposals do not mark the first time SG has worked to open a building on a 24-hour basis. In 2012, an SG resolution led to the PCL opening for 24 hours, five days a week. The PCL has continued to operate with a 24/5 schedule beginning around the midway point of each fall and spring semester.

“Gate counts definitely rose after the institution of 24/5; in 2011 (prior to 24/5) we had 1.67 million visits to the PCL, and that number was over 1.71 million last year,” UT Libraries spokesman Travis Willmann said in an email. 

Currently, other late-night study spaces on campus include: the Texas Union, open until 3 a.m.; the Student Activity Center, open until 3 a.m.; and the PCL, which is open until 2 a.m. On Oct. 12, the PCL will begin operating on its 24/5 schedule.

Ruben Cardenas, Moody College of Communication representative for SG, said the Belo Center for New Media would be an added convenience for students who live far from the PCL.

“We thought this is an area close to West Campus, close to the dorms, that students utilize,” Cardenas said.

The FAC would serve the same purpose, according to SG President Kori Rady.

“There’s always a need for more collaborative study space on campus,” Rady said. ”The PCL is often filled to the brim, and this gives students another place to go.”

Rady said the proposal for extended hours at Belo is still in the beginning stages, but Roderick Hart, dean of the Moody College of Communication, agreed to look over the plan and discuss it with college officials.

He said he hopes to implement the 24-hour FAC plan within the current school year.

“It’s simply just a funding issue,” Rady said. “They have every capability of doing it 24/7 FAC. We just need more money.”

The cost for extending the FAC hours is $81,790, according to Rady. Taral Patel, author of the resolution and University-wide representative, said SG representatives working on the proposal are seeking funding from the Student Services Budget Committee and the President Student Advisory Committee.  

According to Willmann, the 24/5 PCL schedule is funded by University Athletics. He said it costs more than $40,000 to keep the building operating with its current schedule.

Rady said security measures have not been fully explored at Belo since the plan is still in the works, but, at the FAC, there are options for student security guards, a hired security guard or UTPD patrol in the surrounding area — the current security method during the 24-hour schedule for finals week.

“We need consistent 24-hour places to work,” Patel said. “I understand the PCL does this during midterms and during finals, but people have plenty of tests scattered in between year round.”

Art Markman and Bob Duke, stars of KUT radio’s “Two Guys on Your Head,” and host Rachel McInroy speak on a panel at the Belo Center on Wednesday afternoon.

Photo Credit: Ellyn Snider | Daily Texan Staff

The hosts and producer of “Two Guys on Your Head," the KUT radio show on science and the brain, discussed their show and the public understanding of science at a talk at the Belo Center for New Media on Wednesday.

Art Markman and Bob Duke, UT professors and hosts of the show, and the show’s producer, Rebecca McInroy, spoke about the establishment of “Two Guys On Your Head” and the importance of teaching this science to young students. The show features discussions on various aspects of psychology and the scientific process.  

McInroy said she invited Markman, psychology professor, to appear on the psychology episode on her radio show “Views and Brews” after receiving a call from one of his affiliates. 

“I was under the impression that we had to play music,” Markman said. “Thank goodness that wasn’t the case, but I called [Duke] up anyway to accompany me on the show.”

Duke, music and human learning professor, said he recorded two episodes with Markman before McInroy realized that she wanted to create a new show focusing on the brain. 

“We didn’t want the show to feel teach-y” Duke said. “What’s missing from science education is work on the scientific process.”

McInroy said each show is a collaborative effort. 

“I wanted people to feel like they had been to a dinner party after each episode,” McInroy said. “One thing that’s great about working with [Markman] and [Duke] is that we trust each other.”

Duke said they discuss a specific topic each episode, with an emphasis on psychology.

“Science is about a process,” Duke said. “The show works to teach the process and things that aren’t intuitive. A lot of students have the misconception that science is a group of facts. Science changes constantly.”

Markman said that a problem with the public’s understanding of science is a lack of good science teachers.

“I tell my colleagues to tithe 10 percent to the field, give 10 percent of your work time to teaching the community,” Markman said. “Luckily, a growing number of people are willing to teach the public.”

According to Duke, researcher bias creates an issue of trust between scientists and the public.

“There is no such thing as inherently dispassionate data,” Duke said. “So long as humans are involved, a bias will be present. A system was developed to thwart that bias though: That system is science.”

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

When a bush caught fire outside the Belo Center for New Media on Monday, someone inside the building pulled the fire alarm and students in the building were ushered directly into the smoke-filled area. Despite the fire, evacuation was not the safest course of action, according to UTPD spokeswoman Cindy Posey.

Posey will meet with University fire marshal James Johson and emergency preparedness director David Cronk as soon as possible to make changes to the building evacuation policy, Posey said, because in the case of an outdoor fire, students and faculty should dial 911 instead of setting off the fire alarm.

“The emergency preparedness website has all the instructions for what to do if the fire is inside, but it does not specify what to do if the fire is outside the building,” Posey said. “I have a feeling we will be adding that very soon.”

On its website, the Office of Emergency Preparedness outlines the standard safety procedures for building evacuations in the event of an indoor fire, but does not give specific procedures for outdoor fires.

The Office of Emergency Preparedness is responsible for providing instructions for a variety of possible emergency situations, including bomb threats and active shooters on campus. For indoor fire emergencies, the emergency preparedness desk reference manual instructs building occupants to pull the fire alarm before calling 911.

“You are putting people in danger by getting them out of the building and putting them near the area that’s on fire,” Posey said.

Posey said students’ first instinct may be to pull the fire alarm, but, in some situations, there may not be a safe exit from the building.

“I understand it seems counterintuitive,” Posey said. “But if the fire is outside, what happens is [that pulling the fire alarm] does what we call ‘dumping the building,’ which just means it empties the building. So we would prefer that people call 911 first if the fire is outside.”

University communications director Rhonda Weldon said she is unsure whether fire alarm occurrences are recorded. Johnson was unavailable for comment.

Business senior Aakash Batra said he believes the evacuation policy is not made as clear as it should be.

“I don’t know much at all about our evacuation policy,” Batra said. “I mean, I’m sure I could Google it, but I wouldn’t think to do that.”

Other students, such as biology senior Suwetha Amsavelu, said their first instinct would be to exit the building as quickly as possible.

“I would just run,” Amsavelu said. “I’ve always just assumed that you have to evacuate, and my first thought would be to try and get out of the building.”

Safety procedures are not always easy to follow in an emergency situation, according to speech/language pathology senior Jeanan Sfeir.

“Honestly, I don’t know if I would wait for directions,” Sfeir said. “I would pull the fire alarm if I saw a fire because I would assume that is the way to alert people.”

Priority Field Services Inc. co-founder Bert Kivell extinguishes a brush fire outside The Belo Center for New Media on Monday afternoon. 

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

The Belo Center for New Media was evacuated Monday after a bush caught fire outside the building. The fire, which affected several bushes lining the sidewalk on Dean Keeton Street, did not appear to damage the building itself.

According to UTPD spokeswoman Cindy Posey, UTPD felt confident the fire was caused by a cigarette.

Bert Kivell, a private contractor for the University who was on the scene at the time, said he contained the fire using a fire extinguisher before emergency personnel arrived at the scene and put out the fire. 

The Belo center was evacuated after an unknown individual pulled the fire alarm. Posey said the fire alarm should not have been pulled.

“We ask people, when they see a fire outside, to call 911,” Posey said.

Students inside the building were directed to the street after the fire alarm sounded. They were asked to remain a safe distance away from the fire while it was being put out.

“I didn’t know the emergency procedure,” said Davina Bruno, a public relations senior who was inside the building at the time. “The alarm told us to leave the building, but [outside the building] was where the hazard was. I don’t know what they would have done if the situation got more serious.” 

Arryn Zech, a barista at Cappy’s Cafe, which is located on the first floor of the Belo center, said students inside the building were confused and unaware of the specifics of the situation.  

“I was honestly just following the masses [when evacuating],” Zech said. “My car was actually parked outside of the building and someone was saying that they thought a car was on fire, so I was worried about that.”

This rendering, obtained by The Daily Texan through the Texas Public Information Act, illustrates the proposed skybridge between the Belo Center for New Media and the Communication A Building. The skybridge will be built as part of a larger renovation of the Jesse H. Jones Communication Complex funded by $5 million of the $50 million from the Moody Foundation and $5 million from the University.

The College of Communication will be getting a new name and a bridge.

The Moody Foundation announced a $50 million contribution to the college on Monday, which will rename the entity to the Moody College of Communication. 

About $5 million of the donation — combined with an additional $5 million from the University — will be used for renovations in the Jesse H. Jones Communication Complex, including the construction of a skybridge across Dean Keeton Street, connecting the fourth floor of the Communication A Building to the second floor of the Belo Center for New Media. 

The endowment, which is the largest given to a public university for the study of communication in the nation, will provide $13 million for graduate student recruitment, $10 million for research and outreach centers and $5 million in department endowments.

“This is a tremendous gift that will create tremendous opportunity for the University,” UT spokesman Gary Susswein said. “The Moody Foundation has been very generous with the gift to the University. It will support students, it will support faculty, it will support learning. With this gift, the College of Communication will probably be unparalleled to other communication colleges in the nation.”

The Moody Foundation will also provide $10 million to establish an “idea fund,” which Roderick Hart, dean of the college, said will act as venture capital for ideas in departmental development.

“This really is an important time for the college, not to mention the gift is really, really cool,” Hart said. “For a number of years we’ve wanted to offer in-service training for media professionals, but we [historically] haven’t had the space or luxury of [implementing] it. This really is a transformational gift that will enhance the local and national visibly of the college.”

Mike Wilson, associate dean for external relations for the college, said what differentiates the endowment from others is the majority of the funds directly supporting members of the college. 

“The beauty of this gift, and this is what I think separates it [from other donations] is that the vast majority of the money is going to directly support faculty, students and the programs we have at UT,” Wilson said. “The money has been distributed carefully and with a lot of thought so that every department in the college receives the benefits of the Moody Foundation’s generosity.”

Wilson said discussions about the Moody Foundation’s contribution to the college began over a year ago when the foundation made its initial investment in UT3D — the college’s 3D production program for undergraduates. 

“Through that, I got to know the foundation very well and learned of their past philanthropic interests and found that they were closely related to our own college’s work,” Wilson said. “Ross Moody [trustee of the Moody Foundation] in particular was very interested in doing something of substance within the college and we ultimately talked about the gift that you’re reading about today.” 

The Moody Foundation is named after the late Galveston-based financial magnate, W.L. Moody Jr. and his late wife, Libbie Rice Shearn Moody. Moody Jr., who died in 1954, owned several businesses during his lifetime, including the Galveston News, which he bought in 1923 from Alfred H. Belo — the namesake of the Belo Center for New Media.

Wilson, a journalism graduate of the college, said the donation from the Moody Foundation will greatly affect the college going forward. He said he views the endowment as a legacy that people 100 years from now can benefit from. 

“This is going to be a stellar, stellar shot in the arm for the international positioning of the college that will help us undoubtably recruit the kind of students and faculty and get the kind of notoriety that a publicly-held university wants to achieve,” Wilson said. “I’ve been on the dean’s advisory council for close to a decade and no time in the history of my association with the college have I been prouder or more challenged by what’s going to transpire with this gift.”

Jessica Schwartz a memeber of winning team JMASTR presents the iPhone App - Glos Guide in the Demo Day for UT Apps Development Class on a Saturday afternoon. Five teams pitched mobile product ideas and built them for a journalsim class led by Professor Robert Quigley and entrepreneur Joshua McClure.

Photo Credit: Shweta Gulati | Daily Texan Staff

UT’s Mobile News App Design class held a Demo Day Saturday afternoon in the Belo Center for New Media to showcase five iPhone apps the class has created over the course of the semester.

The class, taught and created by senior journalism lecturer Robert Quigley, divided a mix of journalism and computer science students into five groups and asked them to create a mobile news app. Quigley said the students’ excitement about the concept of the class fueled their creations.

“There was some cross-learning going on, which was one of the goals of having this class,” Quigley said. “I hope this class got the journalism students excited about the possibilities of technology and I hope the computer science students have a new understanding of communications.”

During the Demo Day, each group was given an opportunity to come before a panel of judges including Wanda Cash, associate director of the UT School of Journalism; Debbie Hiott, editor of the Austin American Statesman; Rodney Gibbs of the Texas Tribune; Carmen Cano of Dallas Morning News; Gerald Bailey, co-founder of Snakehead Software and Christopher Visit, co-owner of Frank+Victor Design. Quigley selected the media judges and Josh McClure, an Austin iPhone developer who worked with the class in their app development throughout the semester, chose the tech judges. 

The app to win Best Overall App was “Glos Guide for Journalists,” a mobile style reference guide. The “Glos” team began its presentation by asking volunteers to look through a traditional hard copy of the AP Style guide and “Glos,” and find the rule concerning the capitalization of cardinal directions. 

“The activity showcased the timesaving efficiency of ‘Glos,’” said Ryan Niemann, computer science senior and Glos team member.

“‘Glos’ saves journalists time and money because they no longer have to go through the slow process of searching through a bulky paper catalog to find information about journalistic style,” Niemann said. “They no longer have to pay for an expensive hardcopy of a style guide–they can purchase ‘Glos’ for only ninety-nine cents.”

Pxljam,” a photo-sharing app intended to connect music lovers to their favorite artists and concert experiences, won both the award for “Best Design” and “Best Commercial Value.” “PicBook,” an app that allows its users to create digital scrapbooks, was deemed “Most Original.” “Prix-Party,” an event-guide for F1 racing in Austin, was awarded “Best Presentation.”  

Journalism and Portuguese senior Meleena Loseke worked to develop “nerv,” an app designed to make local news and hotspots easily accessible to travelers, and said the cohesion of the groups was important in the class’s creations. 

“No matter if we were creating code for the app or coming up with communication initiatives, Quigley stressed that we were each considered a ‘developer,’” Loseke said. “This experience has taught me that teams can accomplish some pretty incredible things if each member plays to his or her own strengths, which my team did.”

Members the Austin film community discussed the historical context and various cinematic techniques of the 1952 Hollywood Western High Noon for the Radio-Television-Film’s Community Screening series at the Belo Center for New Media on Thursday.

Led by professor Charles Ramírez Berg, Thursday’s screening was the first community screening presented by the RTF department. The community screening involved RTF faculty members who select some of their favorite films for display to the public.

High Noon stars Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly and Katy Jurado. The film won four Academy Awards. Berg said the film’s release was marked by controversy because of the issues that dealt with the Red Scare and the investigation by the House Un-American Activities Committee. 

“It became an issue in this film because the co-producer and screenwriter of this film, Carl Foreman, was called before the committee in the middle of the film’s production. He had joined the [Communist] party, eventually quit but had to say he was a member of the Communist party. He refused to give the committee names of other Communists and therefore he became persona non grata in Hollywood.”

Berg said the screenwriter’s experiences with the committee helped Foreman to infuse his emotions into the script.

RTF sophomore Aden Wexberg said the courageous efforts of those who worked on the film allows him to continue to watch the film.

“It’s really cool to see a blacklisted artist stare that sort of opposition in the face and still keep going with it,” Wexberg said. “Every time I think what keeps me coming back is the courage of Will Kane because it sort of reminds me of ‘The Crucible’ and how it responds to McCarthyism.“

After RTF sophomore Graham Carter watched the film for the second time, he said he learned more about it from Ramírez. 

“Dr. Ramírez knows a lot about the film,” Carter said. “He is obviously very passionate about it.”

There are three other screenings scheduled by the department. RTF Professor Caroline Frick is scheduled to present ‘The Big Sleep’ on March 21. In a co-sponsored event with the Journalism Department, on April 3 the director of that department, Glenn Frankel, plans to present ‘The Searchers’. RTF professor Richard Lewis will round out the screenings series on April 18 as he is slated to present ‘A Shock to the System.’

A student inspects construction on the Jesse H Jones Communication Center sixth floor Monday afternoon. Parts of the sixth and fourth floors are scheduled for renovation through August 20th.

Photo Credit: Charlie Pearce | Daily Texan Staff

The Jesse H. Jones Communication Center’s (CMA) appearance is changing, with renovations that will make its interior resemble The Belo Center for New Media across the street. 

Renovations on the sixth and seventh floors have already been completed, and construction is now in progress on the north side of the fourth floor and south side of the sixth floor. Bob Rawski, regional program manager for the UT system, said when the College of Communication’s new building, the Belo Center, was installed, it was understood that other communications buildings like the CMA would have to be renovated. The renovations will cost $7 million dollars.

“We’re taking existing office space that hasn’t been upgraded since the building was constructed,” Rawski said.

Rawski said while the renovations are taking place, UT will also take the opportunity to do maintenance on the building’s air conditioning system, which is expected to fail due to age, and its wiring system. Rawski said the maintenance upgrades, which will cost $3.95 million, should pay themselves back quickly because of the increased efficiency of newer air conditioning units. Construction crews have installed temporary units to continue heating and cooling while the new system is installed.

Though the construction is intended to improve the building, students and staff on the floors under construction said the noise and activity can be disruptive.

“There’s a lot of banging,” journalism graduate student Grace Sherry, a teaching assistant with a discussion section on the fourth floor, said. “I either have to yell, literally scream or wait for it to stop.”

Lisa Bedore, a communications professor affected by the construction, also said she found it disruptive. However, she said the construction crews seem to have reduced their noise levels.

“As annoying as it is, I think they’re doing a better job of taking us into account,” Bedore said.

Rawski said he and the project’s other managers attempt to schedule the noisiest work for off-peak periods.

“In this particular project we had too much work to do just over the break periods,” Rawski said. “[But] we’ve been doing a lot of the noisiest work nights and weekends.”

Renovations on the CMA are scheduled to finish Aug. 20.

Published on February 6, 2013 as "CMA renovations progress, mirror Belo's modern look".