About Studio M

Studio M, a project of the College of Media and Entertainment at Middle Tennessee State University, launched in January 2015. Based in the College’s Center for Innovation in Media, the heart and soul of the project is in classrooms, where a low-cost teaching hospital method helps train students to tell complex stories for a mobile and millennial audience.

Students are immersed in tracking millennials and issues that affect them, including employment, health care, the economy, education, student loan debt, the gender pay gap, religion, race and diversity. Studio M students use a combination of data and old-fashioned reporting to create comprehensive stories that look at millennials across the state and the nation.

In its first year of operation, Studio M reached nearly 130 School of Journalism students through courses like Advanced Reporting, Feature Writing, Reporting and Data Journalism. Students work under the direction of professional journalists and professors who continue to practice their craft in addition to teaching courses.

Studio M was jumpstarted by a $50,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to support talent and leadership and advance excellence in journalism. Other founding contributions included $25,000 from BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee and $10,000 from The Tennessean.

Members of the Studio M faculty include:

  • Whitney Matheson, formerly with USA Today, is a nationally known writer with experience in podcasting, pop culture, blogging, social media and digital media. Matheson directs the project’s writing, paving the way for students to find national sources, experts and data.
  • Val Hoeppner, director of the Center for Innovation in Media at the College of Media and Entertainment. Hoeppner assists with the creation of multimedia content including video, interactive timelines, photography and podcasts. Hoeppner is a nationally known expert in mobile news strategy and storytelling.
  • Dr. Ken Blake heads the MTSU Poll at Middle Tennessee State University and teaches data journalism courses. Dr. Blake leads the data analysis efforts of Studio M.
  • Leon Alligood is a professional journalist and associate professor in the College of Media and Entertainment. Alligood teaches long-form writing and works with students in his immersion and interactive media courses.

Studio M primarily targets mobile news platforms, aiming to provide the best possible mobile experience for users of Studio M and media partner apps.