SJMC Students and Faculty Represent Texas State University SPJ Chapter at Excellence in Journalism 2017

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Triston Giesie (left) and Jakob Rodriguez (right) with Senior White House Correspondent for CNN Jim Acosta at EIJ 2017

Professor Kym Fox and two SJMC students attended Excellence in Journalism 2017, the national conference of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ), the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) and the Native American Journalists Association (NAJA), in Anaheim, California this month.

“Students get the chance to meet with not only other university students but also professionals who have more than 20 years of work experience,” said Fox. “Getting exposed to high profile journalists help students learn from the pros and shape their career.”

This year, SJMC students Triston Giesie and Jakob Rodriguez attended a session called “Work in Progress: Pressing the President” with Jim Acosta, CNN; Christina Bellantoni, Los Angeles Times; Adrian Carrasquillo, Buzzfeed news; Jeff Pegues, CBS News; Margaret Talev, Bloomberg; and Kyle Pope, Columbia Journalism Review.

Triston Giesie

Currently a junior in public relations, Triston Giesie thinks that from meeting media icons to his current peers and future coworkers at EIJ 2017 helped him set future.

“The conference, to me, seemed to open my eyes and connect me to the mainstream journalism network,” said Giesie. “Now that I have attended it, I feel exponentially more confident in my ability to gain a job after graduation—or even an internship before that.”

Jakob Rodriguez

Jakob Rodriguez said he had a great time taking school trips and representing the university.

I loved being able to represent Texas State at the National SPJ conference,” said Rodriguez. “A Personal highlight is stepping up and speaking on the floor in favor of a proposed bylaw change.” 

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#AlumniSpotlight: Elan Tavor

Elan Tavor graduated from the SJMC with a degree in Public Relations in 2001. Now a home builder with The Tavor Company and real estate broker with John Daugherty Realtors, Tavor says his degree has been an incredible asset throughout his career.

“I had an incredible educational experience at Texas State (SWT when I was there). The class sizes were small enough to allow for the best professor/student interaction, which allowed me to get the most out of the courses I completed. The professors I had truly had a profound impact on me at the time and what I learned still influences me today. The public relations skills learned at the SJMC have helped me tremendously at various times throughout my career.”

#AlumniSpotlight: Isamar Terrazas

Isamar Terrazas graduated from the SJMC Electronic Media sequence in 2014. Terrazas is now employed with NBC Universal/Telemundo 40 in McAllen, TX as a Field Producer and Assignments News Editor. Terrazas even won an Emmy as Associate Producer of an educational special called “Aprender es Triunfar: Ayuda Financiera.” This 30-minute special focused on personal stories from students applying for financial aid. Terrazas was also nominated for a National Emmy as a field producer for a 1-hour investigative special by Telemundo, MSNBC and the Center for Investigative Reporting. Congrats Isamar!

“Being at Texas State was honestly the most amazing time I’ve had in my career. I learned from the best in the business, and I feel like I have been able to use everything I learned in my current position. Being part of Bobcat Update and KTSW helped me learn the different positions available in the media.”

 

SJMC student Jay Martinez and his band ‘Across the Atlantic’ signs record deal

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It’s not uncommon to apply for graduate school to buy some time while figuring out how to navigate the career market, figuring out where you fit in. It is, however, rather uncommon that a masters graduate and his band of over five years ends up signing a deal with a record label just weeks after the spring commencement. That’s now; let’s back up to when things started.

Jay Martinez had just graduated high school and enrolled in the University of Texas at San Antonio when he realized that he needed a social group, a small network to enjoy while he wasn’t studying for his, at the time, undeclared major. So, he did what any sane person with a laptop seeking friends would do: posted an add on Craigslist. And as they say in the business, the rest is history.

Well, not quite that easy. Jay said he just wanted some people to hang out with.

“I posted a craigslist ad to see if anyone wanted to come over and play, and that was an adventure on its own. We pieced it together from there. None of us ever imagined this would be a career pursuit,” said Jay.

After sifting through the odd, scary, and off-putting responses, Jay secured 4 friends to play music with him to pass the time, and just like that the band had a name, Across the Atlantic, and his social endeavor transformed into a way of life. Eventually.

Jason Lugo (Guitar), Julio Bautista (Guitar), Jayy Garza (Bass). and Cody Cook (Drums) would meet up and play regularly at Jay’s (vocals) parent’s house, slowly realizing that the group they had formed may be more than a casual jam session to pass the time. Eventually, the band realized that not knowing each other and recording with a group of strangers was a blessing in disguise, creating the authentic and diverse sound that they produce today. So, the band agreed their music would become their top priority over friends, school, and even relationships.

“It took such a toll on all of us, but we all had a common goal to make the band everything we knew it could be. We were quite messy in the beginning, but it ended up working for us,” said Jay.

Starting Out

The band managed to release two albums on their own, scraping by financially and working day and night to promote their music for any sort of return on their investment. But the albums did not make money and would not see a profit for a long time. Even so, Jay and the band continued to write, produce, and tour by using their own dollar and own expertise. Luckily, Jay’s education proved most helpful.

After happening into his communication studies major in his undergrad, Jay realized his passion for communication with an audience, through spoken word, song, or otherwise.

“I took my first public speaking course and that was a game changer for me. I was always very shy when speaking, but I learned that speaking could be a performance. The more I did speeches, the more I was charismatic in my performance, “ said Jay.

Learning Lessons

And Jay never stopped performing, both on and off stage. His time in the SJMC at Texas State the past two years taught him a valuable lesson- never underestimate your own power to market yourself.

“People aren’t going to go spend money on a concert for a band they have never heard of, so we had to sell ourselves. What I learned in class was how important your image is, how important content is, and how important engagement with your audience is. These aren’t practical skills for most, and I learned this firsthand,” said Jay.

After learning that starting a band is not as easy as writing songs and making good music, Jay applied some of his practical skills from the classroom. His class with Dr. Judy Oskam, Creative Problem-Solving, proved to him that there is always a way to navigate an issue.

“I had always heard about how great Dr. Oskam was, but I hadn’t had a class with her yet. So I signed up and ended up learning that there is no problem too large. Dr. Oskam’s help and feedback were amazing,” said Jay.

Getting To Work

Jay’s education and the band’s drive to succeed kept them above water for five years, but things began to take a turn as Jay began his last month of his graduate program. He began to feel the pressure of the financial constraints and began to compare himself to everyone else in his life who had their lives together, a family, kids. So he turned to his friends and family for sage advice, and the result was not what he anticipated.

“The people I went to suggested putting everything (the band) to the side and focusing more on my ‘career’- that was my fire. At that moment, I wanted to prove everybody wrong and that was the inspiration for this album. It’s not that they wanted to hurt me, they believed in me and wanted the best for me and everything they said was true. This is what provoked me to continue,” said Jay.

And so, he wrote. He worked with his music and lyrics in a way that he had never before.

“I went in thinking this is the last bit of music that I may produce. Writing this album was the first time that I wrote with no inhibitions, and just so much ambition. I put everything out there. I wanted to be at peace if this was it. And that sort of mentality drove me to a place where I found complete freedom in writing,” said Jay.

He and the band, who he had not yet told about his reservations to continue with the band, started recording their most recent album in the spring. Knowing that this album may be the last he worked on, Jay felt conflicted. After they recorded the music and were mixing the tape, he let the band know that this may be his last go.

“It took everybody by a huge surprise. We were still in the studio mixing and things were tense for the next two days. No one knew what the future held for the band,” said Jay.

But just as unexpected as successfully piecing together a band from a Craigslist ad, things took a dramatic turn two days later as they sat in their hotel lobby at a quiet breakfast.

The Deal

“My phone rang and the caller ID said ‘Germany’ which I had never seen before. On the other end, a person with broken English began to speak, introducing themselves as a person from Sharp Tone Records…they offered us a record deal! It was so unexpected. We are just so thankful for our producer, who gave us the guidance and advice of how to maneuver ourselves through the ranks,” said Jay.

As you may have guessed, the band accepted the deal and Jay’s decision was confirmed- the show must go on. This summer the band began preparing for their first international tour ever, leaving for Europe in September, where they will debut songs from their most recent album, Works of Progress.

“These songs are so much more emotional than our last albums. Our albums are just so diverse. You can find metal, acoustic, and pop, and everybody defines us differently. It gives us so much freedom knowing that I am not boxed in by any constraints. As long as it sounds good, everything goes,” said Jay.

The band is excited to debut themselves alongside their new label abroad, which Jay says is a suitable start to a new beginning.

“This band was established on the foundation of diversity. It was hard at first to take other influences into our music at first, but different views have made our music what it is today. Across the Atlantic is the embodiment of being open to different people and different backgrounds. I think music is one of the things in life that can be considered as universal, regardless of religion, who you are, where you live,” said Jay.

Works of Progress

Works of Progress, a fitting title to describe their journey and progress, debuts on Labor Day and is available on the Across the Atlantic’s website, Sharp Tone Records site, and on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and Spotify for streaming. Three singles have already been released for your listening pleasure. The band is also presenting a free show to give back to the community that has supported them for over five years: San Antonio and surrounding areas. The concert is on August 18th, starting at 7:00 pm at The Korova in San Antonio. The band is expected to take the stage around 9:30 pm.

The band will be selling their new album at The Korova and it is available for preorder today. Check it out on any of the services mentioned above.

Perhaps in the future, Jay will pursue his Ph.D. to give back to the world of academia, but for now, it’s full steam ahead for the band.

“I eventually want to focus on leaving my imprint on the media market by teaching so that I can be on both sides of the industry. But I am listening to my heart right now and that is what I want to inspire people to do. Don’t ever give up on your passion, just learn to trust your heart and emotions to lead you in the right direction,” said Jay.

It is this passion and drive to start the band that fuels each member today. Follow Jay and the band on their social platforms and Jay’s blog to see what they are up to next. If the past is any indicator of the future, we know it will be an amazing journey to follow.

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Check out their music video and PSA against domestic violence: “Sundress Funeral”

#AlumniSpotlight: James McNeal

James McNeal graduated from the SJMC Electronic Media Sequence in 2010 and is now the Digital Account Executive KXAN/LIN Digital in Austin! We are proud to recognize McNeal as an SJMC alum who is now applying the skills from the program in the Austin market. Congrats, James!

“I had an amazing time while being a student at Texas State. I was fortunate enough to get involved with an excellent student run radio station, KTSW, and was able to work under Larry Carlson as a teaching assistant for his writing for electronic media class. I’d recommend every student to get involved in some way. I forged great business relationships and friendships for life while at Texas State.”

 

#FeaturedWorkFriday: Jennings, Tribbey, Mumbach’s, and Markham’s Storify Submissions

Students in Editing for Clear Communication, instructed by Elizabeth Clark, submitted impressive content for their final projects. Students used Storify, a social networking site that gives the user the ability to create visually appealing stories through other platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, to complete their assignment chronicling the evolution of mass media. Their topics relate to a print publication each student chose to examine, tracking changes in ownership, content, and design, as well as technological advances that occurred across a 20-year time span.

These stories offer an appealing display of how media is ever-changing on a medium that is continuing to evolve the journey of storytelling. Below are the title and links. Check them out!

 

Rolling Stone magazine names greatest concerts from 2011-2016

By Skyler Jennings

 

 

 

Summary Review of the News in Crisis, by Wired

By Taylor Tribbey

 

 

 

 

National Geographic: Pictures worth a thousand words

By Ali Mumbach

 

 

 

 

Traveling with National Geographic

By Caroline Markham

 

#AlumniSpotlight: Meagan Stokes

Join us in congratulating SJMC graduate, Meagan Stokes, on obtaining a position as News Producer at KWKT-TV in Waco, Texas! Meagan graduated from Texas State in May with a degree in Electronic Media, taking with her the tools, knowledge, and confidence to succeed in the industry.

“I learned so much valuable information through my time at Texas State. Not only was I given the basic information, such as how to edit video and use a camera, but I was given facts about what to expect when I entered the broadcast industry. I’m so grateful for my professors who challenged me on a daily basis and gave me the best feedback. Texas State faculty and students are family, and I will forever wear my ring as a reminder of the great university that is still a part of me.” – Meagan Stokes, 2017

SJMC Study Abroad Part Four: Rome Culture

The following post is the last of a four-part series regarding the SJMC’s 2017 study abroad trip to London and Rome, contributed by graduate student, Joshua Morrison. Be sure to check out the previous three articles if you haven’t already!

In our last post about the 2017 London/Europe study abroad summer session, we talked about how this year’s students were provided the unique opportunity to explore Rome. What we haven’t yet had the opportunity to discuss are the wondrous venues for cultural exploration that the city offers.

With a history spanning over 2500 years, Rome is among the oldest inhabited places in Europe. Its history, both ancient and modern, is riddled with reasons to be excited.

The Colosseum is unlike any structure found in the United States

Among the most marvelous sites students had the chance to visit were the Colosseum and the Roman Forums. These ancient structures are unlike anything one might encounter in the United States, and, despite having seen pictures over the years, students were in awe.

“Being able to see it in person was so different!” said senior Ashley Johnson. “It was amazing.”

Senior Victor Z. Glenn was particularly excited to visit the Forums because of their proximity to Palatine Hill, a significant landmark in Roman mythology.

“It is the alleged home of the wolves that raised Remus, one of the founders of Rome,” he said.

Some students, like senior Kaley Consford, were most interested in a more modern attraction: Cinecitta, known as the Hollywood of Rome. She was, in particular, excited to get a first-hand look at film sets.

“While walking around, I truly felt like I was in a ghost town,” she said. “I would try and imagine a live movie scene happening, or even imagine if the sets were real.”

While in Italy, many students used their free day to take trips to other corners of Italy.

Cinecitta is known to many as the Hollywood of Rome

Senior Brooke Vega spent her time in a Tuscan village, soaking up traditional Italian scenery and enjoying the cuisine.

“The view was amazing from both sides of the village…fields of olive trees, vineyards and the golden grass,” she said. “We had a delicious three-course lunch at a winery.”

Denver Donchez, a senior, spent her time in Florence and was particularly taken with the adventure that comes with traveling without a guide in a foreign city.

“If you’ve never been lost in a foreign city, I would wholeheartedly recommend it,” she said. “There’s just something about being completely immersed in a foreign city that forces you to embrace uncertainty.”

 

SJMC Study Abroad Part Three: Rome

The following article is the third of a four-part series contributed by SJMC graduate student, Joshua Morrison. Check back tomorrow for the conclusion, or make your way down the page to see what opportunities London had to offer the students. 

With four years now under its belt, the London/Europe study abroad program through the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Texas State University has established an exciting and dynamic format.

For the past four years, the program leaders have taken students to London and a revolving door of additional locations. In past years, the program has had students travel to Cardiff, Edinburgh and Paris. This year’s secondary destination was the grand city of Rome.

By having a rotating stable of locations, the program is able to continuously make new professional contacts for the SJMC and its students. This year, students were able to visit both Il Fatto Quotidiano, a young, independent Italian newspaper, and RAI, Italy’s national broadcasting company.

For students, these visits provided a rare opportunity to see inside news organizations operating in a vastly different context than their own. Unlike the United States, Italy has only two major news outlets. Of these two outlets, one is state-owned and the other is owned by an important Italian politician.

It was thus a fascinating, and inspiring, experience for students to visit an independent news organization like Il Fatto Quotidiano, which has to struggle against the duopoly to find a place in the media market. Students were quick to praise the organization’s independent spirit.

“Stepping into the building, you knew they were something different,” said senior David Coronado. “They are the media that is free in a country with restricted media.”

Graduate student Breanna Salinas echoed Coronado’s sentiments.

“I was completely impressed with Il Fatto Quotidiano because they are fearless in what they write,” she said.

Nonetheless, the students’ visit to RAI provided a valuable perspective as well.

Joshua Morrison, a graduate student, was particularly interested in the way RAI employees conceived of their jobs.

“It was fascinating because even though RAI is state-owned, the employees were still insistent that they work for the public, not the government,” he said.

The visit to RAI also provided students with the unique opportunity to watch a live, in-studio news broadcast, and see all of the technology and preparation that goes into the broadcasting process. 

“Seeing all of the technology and watching how the news program runs behind the scenes was the best,” said graduate student Dylan Lochridge-Fletcher. “I grew up with my dad being a technical director for a local news channel, so I can appreciate all of the hard work that is put in to make a newscast happen at RAI. “

SJMC Study Abroad Part Two: London Culture

The following article is the second of a four-part series contributed by SJMC graduate student, Joshua Morrison. Stay tuned each day his week for more about the European trip or scroll down to check out yesterday’s post if you missed it!

What makes the study abroad format so unique is that the learning is decidedly not limited to the classroom or any formal setting. The unique appeal of the study abroad format is that so much of the learning comes from firsthand, unique cultural experiences.

While this year’s London/Europe study abroad team certainly enjoyed fascinating conversations with industry leaders in London, just see our last post, their experience was made complete by what the city of London itself had to offer.

Some students, like junior Lauren Frank, were most interested in London’s status as a cosmopolitan cultural hub. She said the London Eye, a giant Ferris wheel on the River Thames, gave her a breathtaking view that really drove this home.

“Watching all the massive castles and skyscrapers become smaller and smaller was humbling,” she said. “I found myself in awe of how vast and multi-cultural London really was.”

Others, like junior Lucero Ibarra, were particularly interested in the outlying, more rural areas. She used her free day to get away from the city and explore Rochester, a village with a slower pace of living.

“Surrounded by woods and lakes, I got to experience what my English friend called ‘the real England,’” she said. “Seeing the lush countryside showed me that it was worth going outside of the city to find adventure.”

The easy access to richly historical sites provided ample opportunity for cultural exploration as well. All of the students took a tour of the Tower of London and had the opportunity to see The Crown Jewels. For some, this experience was the highlight of the trip.

“The experience I had at the Tower of London was all my historical fantasies come to life,” said senior Margaret-Katherinne Fast. “A step into a time of intrigue, mystery, and royal betrayal.”

Just being in London provided students with a glimpse into a different cultural climate and way of life. Perhaps one of the most interesting things students had the opportunity to do was simply talk to people, to hear them describe their way of life. That activity certainly resonated with senior Ashley Fajardo.

“I got to sit down and talk with people from the city and see how they lived,” she said. “They made me realize that it’s okay to slow down and take the scenes in, that’s what life is all about.”

Whatever their favorite part of their time in London, students are likely to return to the states with a tiny piece of British culture. Junior Victoria Chacon, for example, fell in love with tea time.

“I hope to incorporate that in my everyday life,” she said.