Fox News Channel may be America’s top television news source, but here at UC Davis, AggieTV has become one of the campus’ fastest-growing news services.
After a whirlwind year, AggieTV has grown in membership, number of videos produced and nationwide recognition. The five-year-old student-run organization went from producing two or three reports per month, to six to seven video reports per week, which it posts on its Facebook page. The group boasts over 80 members who act as producers, reporters, tech support and more.
Reports have covered everything from campus concerts, to a visit by actor and musician David Hasselhoff, to the “Mrak 52” student protests. Outgoing AggieTV executive producer Dan Fontaine said that AggieTV’s focus is on campus news that students can relate to.
“[AggieTV videos] are all about students. I actively discourage news that has nothing to do with [the] campus,” Fontaine said. “It’s a big campus and people don’t know much about what goes on outside of their little group so we like to have a service that helps promote inter-campus awareness.”
Fontaine said that his goal this year was to increase efficiency in production.
“My goal was to get AggieTV capable of producing content on a regular basis and at a high quality,” Fontaine said. “And so that’s what I was focusing on the last two years, so people could just come in and get right to work without having to worry about all the technical problems.”
The AggieTV studio in Lower Freeborn uses equipment donated by members, and it has also petitioned the ASUCD Senate for funds. Most members work on a volunteer basis.
AggieTV has grown tremendously since Nicki Sun joined two years ago.
“I’ve never been in a group where everyone cared so much about building a small organization into the organization it is today,” Sun said. “When I first started as a junior, there were probably about 6 people and we never had group meetings. It was always very difficult to get in contact with people, because it wasn’t a huge group back then.”
Now, AggieTV holds weekly meetings every Monday at 6 p.m. for members involved in all aspects of production, to brainstorm ideas and plan future videos. Sun said that members have plenty of opportunities to work on projects in their own field of interest.
“They can always pitch new ideas if there’s something happening, or if they want to start their own talk show or sports [show] none of us are saying no,” she said. “We always want to take what people have for ideas and try to help them do what they want to do.”
Sun said that AggieTV’s coverage of the student protests over UC fee increases in November was a highlight of the year. A video featuring Sun as an on-camera reporter was even played on CNN.
“That was one of the most surreal experiences of a lifetime, seeing myself on CNN,” Sun said. “To see my story get on a national level and be seen by people who are actually in real media organizations – to see our work as students be taken seriously – that just shows that we’re doing something right.”
Ericka So, next year’s assistant executive producer, said new members are always welcome at AggieTV, regardless of experience. Members are encouraged to participate in the jobs and stories that interest them the most.
“It’s very self-motivated,” So said. “We just tell [new members] these are the stories that are happening this week. They pick the story that they’re interested in and they observe and get a feel for how things work.”
Sun, So and Fontaine agree that the best part about AggieTV is the teamwork and support among the students.
“All of us work so well together – we sit in the studio for hours,” So said. “When we did the protest video we were probably in the studio for a good 15 hours together.”
Incoming executive producer Megan Frantz said she hopes AggieTV will continue to expand after this year’s tremendous growth.
“I would like to make AggieTV a legitimate media conglomerate on campus,” Frantz said. “We’re a family – we’re very small. But it’s a cool thing to be a part of, to be one of the people who helped [AggieTV] grow.”
To watch AggieTV, visit its Facebook page. The first meeting of the school year will be on Sept. 30 at 6 p.m.
ROBIN MIGDOL can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.