CSUN’s Valley View News provides students with work experience

Gwenn Crittle

Recent journalism graduate Allen Carter, 24, credits Valley View News for giving him the skills that helped him get a job in broadcast journalism after graduating. Carter worked on VVN as a reporter where he produced and reported various materials.

Valley View News (VVN) is CSUN’s half hour, student-run television news program produced by students in Journalism 445 course.

“You have the opportunity to shoot your own stuff,” Carter said in a phone interview of VVN.

At the end of the semester, Carter put together a demo reel of his work.  He said he copied all of his work produced at VVN onto about 100 DVDs and began to send them out to companies that were hiring.  Carter said it was because of the work he produced at VVN that he was able to get a job in Albany, Georgia as a reporter.

“Within a week of sending them out (DVDs), I got job offers,” Carter said.

Lincoln Harrison, media production specialist, said students must be journalism students to work at the news station.  There are prerequisite courses you must take before you get to the course that produces VVN. The opportunity is not open to those who aren’t journalism majors, he said.

“The news class is J445, a course they (students) take in their final semester,” Lincoln Harrison said.  “You have to have been a journalism student to have gotten to this part.”

The studio is located in Manzanita Hall 150 where students produce the 30-minute weekly newscast that is taped every Monday afternoon during the semesters and airs on LA36 Sundays at 3:30 p.m., Harrison said.  He added that clips can be found on YouTube and Vimeo the following Tuesday.

Students in the course have a minimum number of finished products they must complete and they can use those finished products for their demo reels, Harrison said.

“J445 students are expected to do four packages (during the semester),” Harrison said.  “Some tremendously motivated students do more than four.”

The course produces ten or 11 shows per semester and each show consist of seven or eight student-produced stories, Harrison said.

Whitney Grunder, 24, now a news and sports reporter for ABC affiliate KTRE-TV in Lufkin, Texas, was a CSUN broadcast journalism major who graduated in 2008.  For her, the process of finding a job in broadcast took a three-day road trip to visit stations in Texas with her father, she said.

“It was a really long process in a tough economy,” Grunder said in a telephone interview.  “You have to be really persistent.”

Like Carter, she credits VVN and the support of professors Lincoln Harrison and Rick Marks for her job and not giving up when looking for a job in the broadcast field wasn’t going well.

“I used my favorite stories that I had done, some anchoring and work from my internship for my demo reel,” Grunder said.