MTSU students John Coulston and Kimi Thompson are enjoying this year’s Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival from a unique vantage point.
They are among a select team from the College of Mass Communication providing multimedia coverage of the world-famous music event for The Tennessean and other media platforms, thanks to a partnership initiated by Dean Ken Paulson.
“They are having a terrific time,” Paulson said of the student team. “It’s a great educational experience for them and they get to cover the music they love up close.”
Coulston, a journalism sophomore, was making the most of the experience on Thursday, roaming the festival grounds and capturing photos and videos for The Tennessean through an iPad.
“I’m covering all kinds of events going on — all the bands, interviewing some Nashville acts that are playing the festival and looking for interesting people to profile,” he said.
The same could be said for Thompson, a public relations sophomore, who was working to highlight interesting people she met as she traveled between music venues.
“I’m looking for great stories and situations worth reporting,” she said. “And it’s a chance to prove myself and show what I can do.”
That’s what Paulson and the other faculty mentors at Bonnaroo want to hear from all the students on the team.
“Our hope is that students will get first-hand experience on what it is like to cover a music festival,” he said. “It’s about… using cutting-edge tools, multimedia, and making sure you capture the story.
Paulson brokered the partnership earlier this year between the college and Bonnaroo. In April, Bonnaroo partners Ashley Capps, owner of AC Entertainment, and Rick Farman, co-founder of Superfly Presents, came to MTSU to work with students in the college.
The partnership also includes a symposium that MTSU will host this fall on the “Anatomy of a Music Festival: The Bonnaroo Story and the Future of Festivals.”
“We are delighted to have this partnership with Bonnaroo and The Tennessean, giving our students real-world experience covering the festival, talking to artists and looking behind the scenes at what really goes on at a world-class festival,” Paulson said.
“MTSU has a unique college: We’ve got recording industry, we’ve got journalism, we’ve got electronic media communication. All of that makes Bonnaroo a perfect laboratory for what we do.”
MTSU boasts the fifth-largest mass-communication college in the nation and is the only one that features departments of recording industry, journalism and electronic media communication.
It also is home to the Center for Popular Music, which maintains a large research library and archive and interprets various aspects of American vernacular music.
A survey by Radio Television News Association, published by TV Week’s NewsPro magazine, recently listed the college among the nation’s top 20 programs. More information about the college can be found www.mtsu.edu/masscomm.