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Communication Media Concentration Readies Graduates

As it has since its beginnings in the 1970s, the video production sequence at NC State maintains a focus on career preparation. Jim Alchediak, senior lecturer and advisor, makes it a priority to stay current with his field’s technology in order to teach students the media production skills they will need to be successful.

Student with Jim Alchediak in studio
photo by Roger Winstead

Achediak’s students learn to conceive, write, shoot and edit video using field production techniques and using non-linear editing programs. They learn, both conceptually and pragmatically, how to produce a professional project under a strict deadline.

In the advanced video course, COM 437, students gain experience working for real clients. Alchediak says students learn the difference between pleasing themselves with the finished product and pleasing the client. “At this point in their academic careers, students are interested in producing work that will lead to professional advancement. They get the chance to earn a letter of recommendation for quality work,” he says.

Since 2010, Jeffery Braden, Dean of CHASS, has been the course’s primary client. At that time Dean Braden approached Alchediak with the idea that his advanced students produce faculty research and alumni profiles.

After completing a number of these projects, Alchediak was asked in 2012 by Dean Braden to contribute to a timeline for the 50th anniversary of CHASS. The project began in COM 437 as oral history interviews and Alchediak was able to hire several students from his class over the ensuing summer to shoot further material. The outcome resulted in more than 30 productions which range from mini-films to clips. The 50th anniversary interviews, both edited and unedited, will be archived by D.H. Hill Library, and library staff has expressed interest in other projects from Alchediak’s classes.

News spread quickly at NC State about the success of the advanced media production classes’ projects. David Hiscoe, director of communication strategies for NCSU Libraries, contacted Alchediak to create a curated piece for the Hunt Library about the inception of the college in its early years and the roots of liberal arts and social sciences at NC State.

In the Spring semester of 2013, three further portraits were completed: CHASS Dean Jeffery Braden, Andy Walsh, student government president, and David Zonderman, professor of history and associate department head, who discussed humanities extension and engagement.

The course work provides students with real world experience, the results of which they can use to show potential employers their skills. Alchediak is proud of the quality of work that his students produce and the fact that they often secure jobs relatively quickly. Through internships and job placement, Communication Media has a great success record in a very competitive field.

Alumnus Jeff Gravley, sports anchor at WRAL TV, says Alchediak’s television production course, COM 317, formed the foundation of his career because it required students to learn all parts of a studio broadcast.

“One day you were the director, one day you ran audio, one day you were behind the camera and one day in front of it. It gave me a greater understanding of the many facets of broadcasting that have to be synchronized to ‘make television,’” Gravley explained.

Now, Gravely advises prospective broadcasters to take a well-rounded approach like that provided at NC State.

“Learn to do multiple things and be able to execute them,” Gravley said. “One person who can do three aspects of broadcasting is more valuable than three people that can only do one.”

Whether a student graduated in past decades or today, the Communication Media concentration prepares students with a valuable skill set using the latest technology. Inspiration and hands-on experience with clients gains students portfolio pieces, internships and the confidence to secure jobs.

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