Mason Students Get Production Experience on Sesno Reports

Posted: October 27, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Rey Banks

You could turn on your TV and watch a rerun of Joey or Survivor: Vanuatu tomorrow evening, but a more stimulating choice might be Sesno Reports: The Cost of War, a program that George Mason University students helped produce. The fourth installation in the Sesno Reports series in which Frank Sesno, former CNN Washington bureau chief and George Mason professor of public policy and communication, examines important issues of the day, will air at 8 p.m. on WETA TV-26.

This particular installment, which examines America’s global war on terrorism, came together with the help and hard work of communication students and Professor LeeAnn Dance’s COMM 353 class. Graduate student Juliana Hoskinson served as a production liaison between the professionals at WETA and the students.

“This [was] an incredible opportunity to get hands-on experience and was great for the broadcast journalism students because even the best internships would not allow the student to be part of the crew as they are here,” Hoskinson says. “I had the chance to participate in almost all aspects of the production of the show and work with amazingly talented people.” The project provided the opportunity for an independent studies project for Hoskinson.

Echoing Hoskinson’s sentiments are Shayla Gray, a senior majoring in communication with a concentration in journalism. Gray began work on the Sesno Reports with her eye on a career in broadcast journalism. Now, after interviewing, editing, and doing camera work, she is interested in both public relations and broadcasting. “I had a blast doing this project,” says Gray. “I was nervous, but more excited than anything to contribute to a nationally aired program. I am elated to have had that opportunity because it is something I can add to my resume to land a good job when I graduate in May.”

In addition to coming up with the original concept for the show and helping to produce it, the students shot some of the actual film in the form of “man on the street” interviews. Cameras in tow, they ventured out into the community to query fellow students and other individuals on their feelings about the United States’ involvement in the war.

Jim Finkelstein, senior associate dean of the School of Public Policy, served as executive producer and negotiated the overall agreements with WETA. John Potthast, WETA’s executive producer, ensured that all parts of the project resulted in a seamless, professional production. “It is always interesting to hear of a variety of opinions on any subject. Having the students so involved offered just that opportunity,” says Potthast.

The collaborative effort with WETA, the third-largest producing station for public television, is Mason’s first national public affairs television production. Major funding for The Cost of War was provided by the Peterson Family Foundation. Additional funding was provided by The Annenberg Foundation in support of the WETA Program Trust; the Friedman, Billings, Ramsey Group; Albert J. and Claire Dwoskin; the Bedford Falls Foundation; IMC Inc.; and Edward H. and Marilynn D. Bersoff. Local funding was provided by Washington Area Subaru Dealers.

More details about the program are available in this earlier Gazette article.

For more information, visit the WETA web site or the interactive web site.

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