Campus offers new satellite broadcast

    Faculty experts now have the ability to give interviews live on news stations across the globe from a studio on campus as part of UCSD’s new Experts on Demand service.

    Though it has weathered recent budget cuts, the university said fund reallocations and savings through the use of current UCSD-TV equipment have allowed it to create the service, which debuted on Oct. 8.

    The university began the program, and the associated studio at UCSD-TV, to gain a wider audience for faculty ideas, according to University Communications.

    “Our faculty expertise ranks with anybody in the world, and we saw the ability to make that expertise available to the public through the media,” Vice Chancellor of External Relations James M. Langley said. “I think the most significant thing is that when you look at how often faculty are cited in leading scholarly journals … UCSD faculty are cited at the third highest rate in the country.”

    Langley said he hopes that having faculty experts on national media will improve the “international perception” of UCSD.

    “We want people to have a greater awareness that UCSD has prominent authorities on a wide variety of subjects,” said university spokesman Barry Jagoda, director of communications for international relations, social sciences and arts and humanities.

    The studio is connected via a fiber optic connection to equipment that transmits video to satellites that news organizations use, allowing the organizations to relay live interviews around the world from campus. According to Jagoda, this connection is leased on a yearly basis for approximately $15,000.

    “This is a very small sum of money for such a potential benefit,” Jagoda said.

    To keep costs at a minimum, the studio itself has been created out of infrastructure that already existed as part of UCSD-TV, according to Experts on Demand production manager Elizabeth Bornheimer.

    According to Jagoda, University Communications and UCSD-TV “are adding this assignment to their existing work with no additional charge.”

    Despite contributions from “people all over the university,” finding money to lease the equipment was a challenge in tough budget times, according to Langley.

    “It’s always hard finding funding because of all the budget cuts over the last three years, but we made the internal reallocations to make it happen,” he said. “We were willing to shift resources to deliver that expert opinion to the larger public.”

    Langley and Jagoda said that the university has a public service duty to provide the service.

    “If you look at the charter of the University of California, public service is a component of what we do,” Langley said.

    Tadayoshi Kohno, a doctoral student who was recently interviewed in the studio about his research on electronic voting systems, said he believes in the university’s public-service role.

    “Our specific duty as a public institution is to share our knowledge with the general public,” Kohno said.

    Psychology Professor Nicholas Christenfeld, who used the studio to create a video for the media, also believes the university has a duty to provide information through its status as a public university.

    “Taxpayers are paying a huge sum of money, but the university can give back to them through the generation and dissemination of knowledge,” he said.

    With the upcoming election drawing near, Jagoda said that University Communications hopes to have experts with knowledge on campaign issues featured in interviews.

    “In the near term, we’re hoping to have interviews in conjunction [with] the election,” Jagoda said. “We have expert faculty who can contribute to the discussion on any important issue.”

    A searchable list called the UCSD Faculty Expert database was created in 2003 to aid media in locating UCSD experts in particular subjects.

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