MTP 101: An Introduction to Media, Theory, and Production


This article was originally published in OPENWIDE back in 2015, and was written by Jenai Kershaw

When I was 18, I thought that I was destined to join ABC, CBC, or BBC and save the world. My chosen path was through a postsecondary education. The MTP program in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies was on my radar, but it shone a dim light. I wasn’t really even looking at FIMS or MIT – I accidentally stumbled into a mock-lecture, lost on Western’s vast campus. My plan was set in stone: I’d been accepted into reputed journalism programs in Toronto and Ottawa, with compliments and awe from my family and friends.  But tides changed for me, and I decided to choose the MTP program, here at Western.

 

Anecdotes aside, the Media, Theory and Production program (or MTP) is a collaboration effort between Western University and Fanshawe College in its finest form. It is a hybrid education – a marriage of theory and practice, idealism and pragmatism. It’s often the simplest of the three modules in FIMS to explain – however, it’s the hardest to comprehend. And you can ask any of my peers for validation.

 

But here’s the scoop: The MTP program gives you an insight that almost no other does at Western. Call it out-of-town bias, but my first year introduction to London started on campus and ended on Richmond Row. Through MTP, I was forced to leave the Western bubble and see my University education in a broadened light. For the Journalism and Radio streams, it was a result of daily early morning commutes across the city to Fanshawe’s main campus (and that didn’t include our 5 am on-air shifts). Television and Interactive Media had their own strife – late hours, constant group work, and carrying their portable office of equipment nearly everywhere. MTPs’ hours never link up with those of their friends’. A balanced diet, 8 hours of sleep, and Monday nights at Jacks become a thing of the past – the turmoil of being an “MTP.”

 

But those are inconveniences. Far graver (and greater) are the cultural and ideological differences between your MIT education and your Fanshawe experiences. Some of my peers would joke about the cultural shift: Western was the “Real World,” but Fanshawe was genuinely the real world – no MTV and no quotation marks. At Fanshawe, most people you meet come from different economic, ethnic, and social backgrounds – and they make you a better person and friend because of it.  College is also significantly more hands-on than university is. In MIT, we critically examine the consequences of large companies impacting society’s social, economic and political well being. At Fanshawe, a lot of the education is catered towards the current job market; it’s not a question of a company’s ideologies or social mandate, but the security and creative position it may offer you as an individual. It’s hard when you’re writing an essay supporting Canada’s public broadcaster, but professionally, you’d be smarter to work for a private one.

 

It took me a while to find the silver lining in this ideological debate, but there is one. You have to find a balance between your morals and goals, an alarm forcing you to realize what you agree with and don’t agree with on your own terms. MTP has helped me forge my own opinions and views about the world we live in.

 

I don’t mean to advertise, but there is a need for programs like MTP on campuses like ours. “Millennials” have constantly been told about poor job markets, and the decreasing value of a university education in a growingly entrepreneurial world.  A program like this gives its students an assurance of enough technical knowledge to work in their fields, with the finesse of a critical and rounded mindset. When your program asks you to see your education in two side-by-side panels, you’re given the opportunity to be a part of a changing landscape that includes more consideration, kindness and humanity. University and college give you two different perspectives, which are individually valuable, but when applied collaboratively, are indispensable.

 

In appearances, Fanshawe lacks the grandeur of Western’s regal campus. A large grey, snake-like building houses the majority of Fanshawe’s programs and facilities. But appearances deceive – Fanshawe offers a lot of opportunity and growth, especially for university students, some of whom may believe themselves above it. Some of FIMS’ most successful alumni were MTP graduates – from Carolyn Cameron on Sportsnet, to Michelle Dube on CTV News. There’s something to be said about the confidence you develop as a person through the MTP program: not just in the skills you acquire at Fanshawe, but the knowledge you’ve gathered at Western, that fuels your work. Yet, you also acquire a burden: the responsibility to take what you learn at both institutes, and create work that will be grasped and understood by so many who haven’t been on both sides of a spectrum.

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