By Stacey Askew
The two LCD televisions installed above the Hub cash registers late last semester flash images of cafeteria grub and news feeds simultaneously.
Victoria Shillington, a third-year fashion design student, does look up at the new screens while waiting in line, but she doubts the ads will encourage her to make a purchase. “You already have your stuff at the line, I’m not going to go back and get (more).” Perhaps, the equipment could be also used to broadcast student-produced newscasts and TV show — like some campus TVs did in the 1970s, administrator say.
Director of food services Jennifer Marriott said that though the screens are run by Ryerson marketing, they are looking at collaborating with various departments, including the schools of nutrition, hospitality and design. There is a possibility that student work from these and other faculties, such as RTA, could be profiled on the cafeteria screens in the future. “Being that they’re new we haven’t really decided exactly how we’re going to use them,” said John Corallo, director of ancillary services.
Corallo added that although the screens in the cafeteria will not likely be used for much beyond advertising, new screens in other common areas could potentially one day broadcast school sports, student media work and news feeds. Currently, Ryerson already has televisions screening ads, announcements and in some cases, news broadcasts in the Recreation and Athletic Centre (RAC), library, bookstore and the Rogers Communication Centre (RCC).
Marriott said, like in the bookstore, the purpose of the screens in the Hub is, “to keep students, staff and faculty better informed about products and services.”
“There is excellent work (being) done by RTA, image arts and journalism students that might be included for rotation,” said RTA Chair David Tucker. “The challenge is finding someone available with the time to gather material and get it on air.” Clara Lee, a second-year RTA student, would like the opportunity to show her work outside of class. “We don’t really get to see our stuff other than in class presentations,” she said.
At the RAC’s front desk, the news feeds run across the bottom of a screen put up just before the holidays, with advertisements flashing above. The screens, including a cable one in the cardio room, are owned and maintained by MXN Media, said Jane Brown, RAC manager of marketing and special programs. The screens in the cafeteria and bookstore belong to Ryerson. In 1998, the RCC started the trend by installing two large televisions in the atrium. One with news feeds of interest to communications students, a system called Scala, and another run by a group of RTA students as part of Spirit Radio, an Internet radio station.
Nine small monitors on the second floor also show the news feeds.
A few years later, the bookstore followed. Brad Fortner, the RCC program director of operations & technology, who is responsible for the RCC screens said, “My hope in reestablishing Scala (news system) in the RCC was that Ryerson would enter as whole, take common information and move it to a central screen and another screen that is local.”
Fortner said that in the seventies, Ryerson had news feeds in a wheel that included 6” by 4” cards with messages that were taped with a camera, then broadcast to the campus. They were presented on screens at every entrance and every main office. However, during cutbacks in the 1980s, the system was abolished. “I thought the effect of the message system then was to bring a sense of community.”
“Without a coordinated messaging system it’s really difficult to promote (information) across campus and it would be pretty easy to put that in place.”