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MTSU students get ‘real-world training’ at Bonnaroo [+VIDEO]

MANCHESTER, Tenn. — Amanda Pierce is one of thousands of students taking a class this summer at Middle Tennessee State University.

But unlike most, her classroom is behind one of the stages at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, where she is serving as student production manager for the MTSU Mobile Production Lab.

Robert Gordon, an assistant professor of electronic media communication in MTSUÕs College of Mass Communication, briefs his student crew before beginning preparations for a shoot Thursday afternoon, June 11, at the 2015 Bonnaroo Music and Arts FestivalÕs Who Stage. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)

Robert Gordon, an assistant professor of electronic media communication in MTSU’s College of Mass Communication, briefs his student crew before beginning preparations for a shoot June 11 at the 2015 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival’s Who Stage. (MTSU photos by Andrew Oppmann)

“I think it will help me kick-start my career and my leadership abilities,” said Pierce, a senior from Murfreesboro majoring in electronic media communication in the College of Mass Communication.

“It’s totally awesome for a classroom.”

Pierce is among about 40 MTSU students, faculty and staff working at the four-day festival under the second year of a unique partnership between the university and festival organizers Superfly Presents and AC Entertainment.

Twenty-eight are working with cameras and control boards in MTSU’s mobile studio, capturing performances on the festival’s Who Stage. The rest are working as multimedia journalists, filing stories and videos for area news media outlets.

“Our friends at Bonnaroo have been extraordinarily generous and supportive, giving our students a singular educational opportunity and invaluable hands-on experience,” mass communication Dean Ken Paulson said.

“It’s important that we extend our teaching beyond the walls of our college to the places where contemporary media and entertainment are at their best.”

Pierce manages the student crew of camera operators, sound technicians, producers and technicians under the direction of assistant professor Robert Gordon, who has almost 40 years of experience in broadcast, cable and network programming.

Students and instructors from MTSUÕs College of Mass Communication mount a center-stage camera at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts FestivalÕs Who Stage on Thursday afternoon. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)

Students and instructors from MTSU’s College of Mass Communication mount a center-stage camera at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival’s Who Stage June 11.

“MTSU at Bonnaroo is giving students realistic, real-world training, producing several video concert performances per day — live, no rehearsal, all in one take,” Gordon said.

“Our time at Bonnaroo is as hands-on and as realistic an experience as can be offered.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the 700-acre site, veteran journalists Pat Embry, director of MTSU’s John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence for First Amendment Studies, and journalism associate professor Leon Alligood are mentoring the student on-site content team.

The team’s work can be found on the website of MTSU’s student newspaper, Sidelines (www.mtsusidelines.com) and other area media outlets, including The Tennessean and the Murfreesboro Pulse.

Students set up and conducted their own advance phone interviews with Nashville-based rock bands playing at Bonnaroo, Embry said. They will work each day from midmorning until late at night, filing stories, taking photos and shooting video.

“From a student standpoint, the experience in building a portfolio is unparalleled,” he said. “Having so many editors and veteran writers and reporters on site to help the students with their work is invaluable.”

Gordon, over at the Who Stage, echoed that thought: “Students get jobs from experiences like these.”

— Andrew Oppmann (andrew.oppmann@mtsu.edu)

A group shot of students, faculty and staff from MTSU's College of Mass Communication, all of whom will be working at the Who Stage at the 2015 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)

This group of students, faculty and staff from MTSU’s College of Mass Communication, all will be working at the Who Stage at the 2015 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn.

MTSUÕs Mobile Production Lab will serve as the video hub for the Who Stage at the 2015 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)

MTSU’s Mobile Production Lab will serve as the video hub for the Who Stage at the 2015 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.

Pat Embry, left, director of MTSUÕs Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies, briefs a crew of student journalists preparing to cover ThursdayÕs opening day of the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)

Pat Embry, left, director of MTSU’s Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies, briefs a crew of student journalists preparing to cover the June 11 opening day of the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn.

A group shot of students and faculty from MTSU's College of Mass Communication, all of whom will be filing content for area media from the 2015 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn. (MTSU photo by Andrew Oppmann)

Students and faculty from MTSU’s College of Mass Communication who’ll be filing content for area media from the 2015 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn., pose for a group photo Aug. 11.

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