After watching network professionals produce a fast-paced newscast in a Chicago television studio, a dozen Australian students took their turns in Butler’s news production lab in July, turning out sample “Butler Beat” video casts with “down under” accents.

BStudents from Macquarie University near Sydney and Flinders University in the city of Adelaide, on Australia’s southern coast spent three weeks on campus, as part of an exchange program between their schools and Butler that goes back close to a decade.

Most of the visitors were screen production majors, so were new to the hands-on aspects of television and digital news production they learned from faculty in the College of Communication’s Creative Media and Entertainment and Journalism programs.

Communication studies at the Australian universities are more theory based than CCOM’s programs, said Multimedia Coordinator Eric Esterline, who oversaw this year’s visit and instruction.

“Here, we provide both theory and practice in our studio labs,” he said.

The group took side trips from Butler to see professional broadcasters at work in Indianapolis and Chicago. CCOM Board of Visitors member Barry Hohlfelder ’66 arranged for the students to witness a news broadcast in the Chicago NBC studio. (Hohlfelder worked as an NBC producer, director and reporter for 37 years.)

Michael McNally of Flinders University said the NBC broadcast was a trip highlight. “It was incredible to see a news production at that scale,” he said.

“NBC was so interesting,” said John Heng, also of Flinders. “They were straight on professionals. The director was firing away, very assertive.”

Heng said he’d “taking a liking to directing,” when he led his classmates in the Butler production lab. “Butler’s program is better than Flinders’ in terms of equipment. We don’t have much studio space,” he said.

Student Lauren Brice enjoyed learning a variety of news production skills in the Butler labs. “I’ve gotten to work with the teleprompter, directing, running video, doing camera and anchor,” she said. “I’ve never done television work before; that’s why I decided to come on the exchange.”

In Indianapolis, the visitors toured Emmis Communications headquarters, and went behind the scenes of live sportscasts at an Indianapolis Indians baseball game and an Indiana Fever women’s basketball game.

CCOM Professor Ken Creech developed the U.S./Australian exchange back when Butler’s television and radio program resided in the Jordan College of Fine Arts. The Center for Global Education oversees the exchange, which provides reciprocal visiting privileges for Butler students at Flinders and Macquarie. Close to 20 Butler students have spent a semester at one of those universities.

“When we started the program, it only involved students from Macquarie University,” Creech said. “After I visited Flinders and Professor Alison Wotherspoon from Flinders spent a week at Butler, students from the Adelaide school flocked to the program. Now it’s a great mix of students who bring much to the overall dynamic of the program.”

“We will have students going to Macquarie in fall,” Esterline said. “And some Australian students come here for semester-long programs.”

Esterline instructed the bulk of the class sessions during the Australians’ visit, covering media literacy, social media, video editing, and more. Creech presented on legal issues in news and media. Additional instruction came from CCOM faculty Nancy Whitmore, on ethics in journalism; Scott Bridge, on the differences between print and electronic news; and Christine Taylor, on television production.

Media contact: Mary Ellen Stephenson
(317) 940-6944
mestephe@butler.edu