Student Journalists Gain a Professional Work Space with the New Convergent Media Center

This fall welcomed a new era for journalism and public relations students at Azusa Pacific with the opening of a Convergent Media Center on West Campus.

The state-of-the-art, two-story newsroom is already transforming the way APU’s student media, ZU Media, operates. The center is complete with broadcast and podcast recording studios, as well as a five-television overhead display and 18 Mac computer stations with editing software. Upstairs are additional computer workstations that provide space for student journalists to work while classes are using the downstairs space. Here, ZU Media will be better equipped than ever to continue producing its student-run newspaper, audio and video content, and magazine.

The media center also serves as a shared space with public relations student, who will also take classes in the new facility. “We will brainstorm, create and design campaigns, meet with clients, pitch to clients, work on projects,” said Ismael Lopez Medel, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies, who teaches public relations. “This is a game changer.”

At the recent ribbon-cutting ceremony, Kent Walls, assistant professor of journalism and lead advisor of integrated student media, addressed the process of finding a fitting space for the center. “We walked all of West Campus and we realized, very quickly, what we could potentially create,” he said. “It was a moment for me where the Lord just speaks to you and says, ‘This is exactly where it needs to be.’”

Before the Convergent Media Center was built, each of the four ZU Media outlets—News, Magazine, TV, and Radio—met in different places on campus. By converging student-run media in a single space and bringing public relations into the fold, it has optimized the student experience. “What we can do as students and as faculty in that space has changed the entire dynamic of our student experience for journalism and PR students here at APU,” said Walls.

The Convergent Media Center was donor-funded, including a $300,000 grant from the Ahmanson Foundation. The space and experiences it affords students as they learn and develop their skills would not have been possible without the generosity of these donors.

Brendan Fretwell, a sophomore journalism major with an emphasis in sports journalism, uses the Convergent Media Center regularly. “The new center is incredible and resembles a real newsroom,” he said. “I would say it is probably one of the more advanced university media centers in the country and provides its users with an endless amount of technological resources that make creating and distributing content unbelievably seamless and efficient.”

As student journalists learn and practice the art of content creation for all types of platforms, the center sets APU apart in the realm of student journalism. “We have a newsroom that is state-of-the-art and we have a newsroom that has brought ZU Media to life,” said Walls.