Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

College opens digital media center


The new Digital Media Center is set to open Thursday in the North End Zone of Bryant-Denny Stadium, concluding the 10-year project spearheaded by the College of Communication and Information Sciences.

(See also “Construction underway at UA“)

At 4:30 p.m., three speakers will take the stage to discuss the future of digital media. John Cochran, UA alumnus and retired senior correspondent at ABC News, will give a keynote address.

“John Cochran is a legend in the news business. He’s covered every president from Eisenhower to Obama and was involved in the foundational work with civil rights in Alabama covering George Wallace,” Jennifer Greer, interim dean of journalism, said. “John has had this distinguished news career, and he can talk about the fundamentals of the world of news and open information in a democratic society.”

Cochran will then participate in a panel discussion, joined by three recent UA graduates who all work in digital media fields: Lee Boulie of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Kathy Nontasak of Google and Victor Luckerson of After the panel, attendees will engage in a Q-and-A session with the panelists.

“Kathy came through advertising, Victor came through journalism, John came out of one of our founding department in broadcasting, and Lee is from the School of Library and Information Studies,” Greer said. “These are three graduates who work in digital media, and we thought it would make a nice contrast to see what we do today. My concept was to go from foundational, like a big-name like John, to recent graduates.”

The Digital Media Center project was led by two deans, Cully Clark and Loy Singleton, nearly a decade ago, and Greer took over after they left. Construction of the center began in 2011, covering 46,594 square feet and including three television studios, three control rooms, four radio studios and 10 television edit suites.

(See also “Board approves several construction projects“)

“The Digital Media Center is designed to be a laboratory for students, just like a teaching hospital,” Elizabeth Brock, director of the Center for Public Television and Radio, said in an article on UA News.

Justin Brant, director of Crimson Tide Productions, said the center was originally conceived as a collaboration between UA Athletics and the College of Communication and Information Sciences as a way to improve the UA brand overall.

“Our main control room is operated from the DMC, and we have all our offices over here. Students can work and help us. Several students work on internships and things within the space,” Brant said. “Our old offices were in Coleman Coliseum. We really had one room we were all working in, so it’s a good change for us.”

The DMC will serve a number of academic departments but was first used by Crimson Tide Productions to produce multimedia sports stories for the fall 2013 football season. Many digital journalism classes will hold labs in the center, and 100 students are expected to work in the center each semester. The center will also assist in producing 40 nonlinear productions for the SEC Network.

“The DMC is all state-of-the art broadcasting technology,” Brant said. “It’s very similar to an ESPN control room or a national broadcast control room. We’re starting the SEC Network in August, and it’ll be just like an ESPN production. Down the road, we may even try more linear productions.”

Tours of the center will be self-guided, and some of the staff will be available to explain various sections of the center. The DMC will also produce broadcasts at other locations, including Moody Music Building and Coleman Coliseum. Alabama Public Radio will also use the Center.

“In addition to staff, we have a lot of student interns who do graphic design, video editing, tagging and cataloguing, live video production, replay equipment, technical directing, broadcast graphics,” Brant said. “We pretty much do everything.”

A reception following the panel will take place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Refreshments will be provided, and the event is free and open to the public.

“We got seating for 400, and we intend to use it,” Greer said.

(See also “Trustees approve next move“)

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