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UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

There’s something missing at UMass Boston

One thing that has always bothered me about UMass Boston is the somewhat limited course selection that we are stuck with. It’s not the subjects of the courses that are offered—most of our professors offer some really fascinating and niche courses, tying into their own expertise. This is actually one of my favorite things about being a student here. It’s really the lack media production course options that I lament every time I register for classes.

Our campus is home to an independent, student-run newspaper—you’re reading it now. Our communication program is very good—shoutout to Professor Camille Martinez for her amazing Environmental and Intercultural Communication courses, and to Professor Jennifer Gregg for her unflinching support of her students. We even have a pretty well-funded music program with some amazing sound-proof practice studio rooms.

Yet, for some reason, we have no journalism major. We also have no communications major—technical audio/visual production, as opposed to the singular “communication,” meaning media studies. Similarly, our film major focuses on cinema studies, not production. And our radio station, WUMB, is a folk, blues and bluegrass channel with no room for student-run programs or DJs. The variety is very limited, and there is no straight-talk radio.

Why? UMass Lowell has a student radio station. So does UMass Amherst—and UMass Dartmouth has a radio station that isn’t student-run, but at least broadcasts some talk programs featuring campus issues—something that WUMB refuses to do. All of them have a wide variety of genres and include talk programs. Amherst has a journalism major, and Lowell offers it as a minor. Both of them have media production majors as well.

This is just another way that UMass Boston sits well behind the other UMass campuses. It seems particularly insane to me that Boston’s premiere public university—a university that prides itself so much on its supposed cultural richness—doesn’t have any student radio programs. This is Boston for Pete’s sake; we’re nationally recognized as a radio hub. And in an era where college radio is rapidly dying, Boston still shines.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I do like WUMB. Not only is their programming right up my alley, but they are thankfully and graciously willing to help students with projects and work-related content production. Jason Moburg was super excited when I came to him last year, requesting the occasional use of their studio to record a podcast for the William Joiner Institute of War and Social Consequences.

They even offer internship-type opportunities for students who want to learn the ropes, and I have found them very willing teachers. But while I love their programming, I know most students don’t care about folk, blues and bluegrass—and I most definitely do not like that they reserve no space for student DJs with their own shows, like almost every other college radio station in the greater Boston area.

What really ticked me off, and inspired me to finally write this article, was when they refused to air a short segment from the Classified Staff Union out of fear that their donors—they are funded significantly through donations—would object. It seems to me, as I told them myself, that those who donate to a station that describes itself as a “UMass Boston community service” would be happy to support a short segment that spreads awareness of UMass Boston issues.

But as I mentioned before, the radio station situation is not the only shortcoming. How does Boston’s premier public university not have a journalism major? I just don’t get it, especially as I sit here in the office for The Mass Media —a production that the university should be very proud of, and support through academics.

It’s honestly embarrassing, considering that journalism is a really crucial part of most universities, and a crucial aspect of social justice—again, something that UMass Boston supposedly prides itself on. The fact that an ‘anti-racist’ and culturally sensitive university isn’t preparing its students to be a better part of representing marginalized communities in the news is laughable.

Similarly, UMass Boston should absolutely be preparing students to help shape the cultural landscape through TV, film, radio, podcasting and more, with a communications and media production department. The fact that we don’t is an absolute shame and an oversight. We need to step up our game.

I understand that we have limited resources and funding. But it seems to me that these programs are a no-brainer and should take a significant priority. For example, revamping our radio station’s programming is something that really should not cost much at all. I don’t think they would lose nearly as many donors as they seem to think they would, and new ones would surely pop up.

Now, admittedly, I’m not entirely sure what students can do to push for these things. Making the issue heard is about the only thing I can think of. Talk to your advisors about how disappointed you are that there are no communications, media production or journalism majors. Attend the Campus Update meetings and make these complaints directly to the chancellor. Reach out to WUMB and express your disappointment that they do not offer student programming.

My pie-in-the-sky hope is that UMass Boston will recognize this significant oversight and ask the state to provide more funding for such programs. I think it is well worth it, and well within the Massachusetts’ budget if properly allocated. Failing that, the administration simply needs to figure out how to do it themselves. As the old saying goes—where there’s a will, there’s a way.

About the Contributor
James Cerone, Opinions Editor