Don Priest Activity Report

CSU Fresno offers students majoring in Mass Communication and Journalism the option pursuing of a degree in either electronic or digital media production.  The program is rigorous and includes courses in both studio and field production.  Student projects may include, but are not limited to, website design, interactive media, narrative films, documentaries, music videos, corporate videos and broadcast news.   The traditional goal of the program has been to prepare students for entry into the professional media industry.  However, recent technological and economic developments have so altered the professional media landscape that many of the “traditional” media jobs, like working for a TV station or film studio, have disappeared. So more and more students are having to go the self-employment route.  In an effort to help them prepare for this new reality, we have had to alter our curriculum in include more of the business side of things.  


In my case, as primarily a production specialist, I’ve taken to bringing in local media artists who are self-employed to provide students with firsthand information on what it takes to support your self in a highly competitive market.  These “guest lectures” have covered everything from basic accounting to insurance and licensing. And from almost every aspect of the business, from developing websites to shooting weddings to making infomercials. As often as possible I try to bring in former graduates from our program, obviously the more successful ones, to demonstrate that it is possible to be a self-employed media artist and still drive a decent car and buy a home.  I also stress budgeting and client relations as essential elements in any media project.

To be perfectly honest, I’ve been surprised by how positively the students have responded.  They are very aware of the changing demands of the media marketplace and seem eager to make it on their own terms.