SJMC students intern, travel with Spurs Sports and Entertainment

by Cheyenne Meyer:

Fans of the San Antonio Spurs basketball team know the excitement of attending a game. Between the loud crowds, the pumped-up music, and simply seeing their favorite players in action is an experience fans sitting anywhere in the arena just don’t want to miss. Two SJMC students are experiencing the games from a whole new perspective. They’re seeing it courtside.

Taylor Hair and Avery Schneider currently intern for Spurs Sports and Entertainment. Schneider has been with the group since last year, and Hair joined the team in August. Larry Carlson, senior lecturer, said these internships were made possible by Mike Kickirillo, the director of broadcasting for the Spurs and SJMC alum (class of ’88).

Photo provided by Texas State SJMC

Mike Kickirillo, SJMC Alum – Photo provided by Texas State SJMC

“Over the years, [Kickirillo] has utilized many of my students as interns,” Carlson said. “A number of them now work for him as producers, etc. Thanks to him, we have a great pipeline from our School of Journalism to the Spurs’ organization. And Mike, just like the players, has collected five NBA championship rings during his time with the Spurs.”

Hair and Schneider recently had the opportunity to travel to Los Angeles and San Francisco to work on the broadcast of the Spurs’ games against the Clippers and Warriors. Hair, a senior electronic media major from Lubbock, explained their duties as interns.

“Avery and I have numerous responsibilities on game days and non-game days,” he said, “from making sure equipment is on the truck, setting up the broadcast desk, writing credentials, logging videos, and even thinking up a trivia question to use during the broadcast.”

Hair and Schneider work every home game, and have a checklist of tasks to complete before each game begins. On the road, however, their responsibilities vary. For the Warriors-Spurs game, Schneider worked EVS tape, taking cues from the producer on which camera to show any given replay. Hair, on the other hand, worked as stage manager.

IMG_5742“The stage manager sits with Bill Land and Sean Elliot courtside,” Hair explained, “and gives them anything they need while they call the game. Mostly you give Bill sponsorship cards to read on-air, and [give] stats to both of them.”

Hair has always had a passion for sports and a love for the Spurs, but this internship experience has been a different kind of experience.

“There is something different, new and exciting about not watching the game as a fan,” he said. “To get a chance to travel with [the Spurs] to a game and cover that game has always been a dream of mine. It was extremely exciting to watch the defending champions go head-to-head with one of the most exciting teams in the league at their home arena; it was incredibly loud and surreal. It is great to pick the brains of some of the best in the business while helping cover a team you love. It really doesn’t get much better than that.”

Originally a transfer from Texas Tech University, Hair has found that the education he has received in Texas State’s SJMC has benefited him greatly in preparing to enter the job force after graduation.

Taylor Hair, courtside

“Larry [Carlson] and the other professors are great at getting you ready for the real world instead of just reading from a book,” Hair said. “The staff has plenty of experience that they can relate to any situation or experience you may be going through. I am extremely grateful to Texas State and the SJMC for whatever my future holds for me.”

Hair said his goal is to end up at ESPN or work for a professional sports team’s broadcasting crew.

Chalk talk with Assistant Director Bowers: A monthly lecture series for students


Join Assistant Director Harry Bowers for his special series, Chalk Talk, geared toward SJMC students. All events will begin at 2:00 p.m. in Old Main 320.

March 25
All about the SJMC: From admission to graduation and all the stops in between.
Overview: Designed for PACE students and other students concerning a major in the SJMC to learn about entrance requirements, matriculation to full-major status, majors, and academic and co-curricular opportunities in the SJMC.

April 8
Making every choice count: Concentration options for your major and strategically selecting your MC electives.
Overview: MC electives should not be selected randomly. Strategically selecting electives or a concentration could make a difference in your job search. Learn how to make smart decisions.

May 4
Debunking the Myth: How to graduate in a timely manner.
Overview: Avoiding common pitfalls, understanding prerequisites, maximizing opportunities for academic and career development and positioning yourself to graduate in four years or less.

University Star participates in Global News Relay 2015

Texas State University’s own student newspaper, The University Star, was chosen as one of 10 universities to participate in Global News Relay 2015, an annual newscast coordinated by the University of Salford, UK. Global News Relay links up students from universities across the globe to produce more than 2 hours of continuous broadcast news.

Poverty around the world, #GlobalNewsPoverty, was this year’s chosen broadcast topic. The newscast included 15-minute segments from six universities in the U.S. and universities and colleges in India, Australia, Dubai and the U.K.

Check out The University Star‘s news broadcast in the link provided below (Texas State’s segment begins at 45:41).


Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith visits Digital Entrepreneurship Speaker Series

by Cheyenne Meyer:

Photo by The Texas Tribune

The third guest to visit the School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s Digital Entrepreneurship Speaker series was Evan Smith. Smith, the Chief Executive Officer, Editor-in-Chief, and Co-Founder of the digital news source The Texas Tribune visited Old Main on Weds, Feb. 25 to encourage students to endeavor into journalism, tech innovation and entrepreneurship. The Q&A session was facilitated by Professor Dale Blasingame.

Smith’s journalistic roots go far deeper than just the Tribune; he spent 18 years working in various leadership positions at Texas Monthly, but in 2009, he was growing bored. He then decided to take a leap of faith: to quit his job at Texas Monthly and launch a non-profit, non-partisan strictly digital newspaper, focused on providing Texans with information on “public policy, politics, government and statewide issues”.

“A fundamental ingredient in entrepreneurship is a willingness to take risks,” explained Smith, “and to not be afraid of failure. Caution is the thing that kills all awesome ideas. The joy for us [at the Tribune] has been throwing caution to the wind. We learn by doing, and if the things we do don’t work, we learn in failure.”

To get the Tribune off the ground in 2009, Smith and his team of designers, journalists and tech innovators started from the bottom. The website was essentially built in a matter of three weeks, according to Smith, with no focus groups, no research, and no feasibility studies – just the staff’s ideas of best practices for success.

“The best thing about building on an empty lot is that you can build upon the image in your head,” said Smith. “We made assumptions, and some were wrong. But we made more good decisions than bad ones. We did what we said we were going to do.”

Smith explained that the key word in journalism, especially in online news, is “iterate”. Content must be revised, updated and improved continuously to ensure that readers are getting accurate and up-to-date information.

“It’s not over when you publish it,” he said. “It’s just beginning.”

In the Tribune’s early stages, Smith and his team were unsure which direction to take: did they want to aggregate or create? Compete against other news sources? Churn out news quickly, or take their time and be thoughtful with content? But even in their uncertainty, or perhaps because of it, the Texas Tribune has found success.

“We’ve succeeded where others have failed because we are willing to not succeed at everything we do,” said Smith.

Photo by Jon Zmikly

Photo by Jon Zmikly

Blasingame then inquired about Smith’s biggest claims to fame: the viral success of the Tribune’s live stream coverage of the 2013 Wendy Davis filibuster.

“President Obama tweeted to his followers ‘Something is going on in Austin’,” said Smith. “And I thought, ‘Wow, this is a thing!’ We actually out-rated MSNBC that night, which it turns out isn’t such a hard thing to do.”

Though Smith’s title as CEO is perhaps the most important in the company, he praises the hard work and dedication of each member of his staff.

“It’s not ‘The Evan Show’, and thank God it isn’t,” he said. “The person at the top of the company has to realize he isn’t the smartest person in the company, and hire people who are smarter. I get to make the decisions, but I’m willing to delegate some decision-making responsibilities.”

As the Tribune continues to grow, Smith explained that his biggest fear is growing complacent. In order to take the next step, he hopes to focus on audience development and engagement.

When asked what qualities he is looking for when hiring journalists, Smith said he wants a “Swiss Army knife”: a person with a lot of different tools that can be deployed as needed. He encourages aspiring journalists to know how to shoot and edit video and audio, how to take good photographs, and basic programming skills (HTML, CSS).

“I also need someone who can write well, and tell a good story,” he said. “And the most important piece of the puzzle: someone who can think, and can work with minimal help.”

Smith also emphasized the importance of knowing a thing or two about data mapping and visualization.

Data journalism is a non-traditional but effective method of storytelling,” he said.

Though many students within the SJMC are told that journalism is a “dying field”, Smith claims this is just not true. He explained that journalism was never better, just different. He also explained that this generation of graduating students is the luckiest yet for many reasons.

“You’ve got easy access to tech and have the ability to create things you could never create before,” said Smith. “You were born into a world where using tech tools is second nature – you have USB ports in the side of your head. And the news business is changing, so all bets are off. All assumptions have been obliterated.”

But, he said, these opportunities can be easily wasted.

“You have to be willing to go out and do it,” said Smith. “Take the initiative!”

Smith left the audience with one final piece of advice, passed down to him from one of his predecessors at Texas Monthly.

“Show up,” he said. “Be present. Come to work every day wearing the uniform, swinging the bat. Be engaged in the work you do. Don’t waste the opportunities you are given. Show up!”

The SJMC would like to thank Smith for taking the time out of his busy schedule to visit the speaker series and share valuable advice with the mass communication students. The next guest in the series will be Nikki Rowling, the founder of Titan Music Group. Her Q&A will begin at 5 p.m. on Weds, Mar 11 in Old Main 320. For more information on Smith, Rowling or any of the other speakers in the series, please visit the TXST Digital website.

New SJMC Speaker Series brings in top names in entrepreneurship

by Becky Larson:


Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith

If you’ve been checking in with this blog or if you follow the department, or any of its faculty, on social media – chances are you have heard about the prestigious lineup of speakers visiting Texas State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

The third voice, following Bob Metcalfe and Rodney Gibbs, to join the heavy-hitting series is The Texas Tribune‘s co-founder, CEO and editor-in-chief, Evan Smith. Smith helped launch the Tribune in 2009 and has been a key part of its rousing success ever since. Prior to the Tribune’s creation he worked at the helm of Texas Monthly, which twice won the National Magazine Award for general excellence during his tenure.

New Lessons

Each event was brought to Texas State as a part of the Digital Media Entrepreneurship Speaker Series, a new class whose goal is to introduce Texas State students to successful and innovative digital entrepreneurs.


Rodney Gibbs and Jacie Yang

The lecture and speaker series hybrid meets every other week to cover readings and assignments. On alternate weeks, the real drama takes place.  Students and faculty, both involved with the class and interested outsiders, pour into Old Main 320 for the chance to hear and question some of the industry’s leaders.

Dale Blasingame, who leads the undergraduate section of the stacked class, says he’s been impressed by the response and by how many of the students can speak to personal experience with digital entrepreneurship.

Jacie Yang, who assisted with the planning process for the class and leads the graduate section says, of building a new curriculum, “you have to have an idea.  You have to know what you want for the class and what you want your students to get out of it.”

One thing the graduate students will get out of the new series is their own business proposal.  Yang’s final project requires all students to submit their ideas and a formal proposal for a personal business.


Bob Metcalfe

“I want them to have their entrepreneurial thinking built up by the end of the semester.  [I want them to think] this is what we’re going to create, this is what we’re going to carry on at semester’s end.”

In their pursuit of speakers, Yang said she hoped to find people who could inspire her students with this creative process.

“I was looking at people who have really created something and have been successful with that creation.”

Blasingame added that while they “were looking for anyone and everyone who has used technology to build a company,” there was also a pronounced cognizance and desire to find diverse voices, from a range of backgrounds and fields.

The Takeaway

In terms of what she hopes her students get from the series, and as some advice for their own business proposals, Yang believes that a few key aspects of entrepreneurship are problem solving and tenacity.

“A lot of times when you have a good idea it comes from everyday life, from the problems people have or even from the complaints that you hear from your friends. When there’s a complaint it means there’s something that needs to be fixed. So I really hope our students can find a good idea, stick to it, and get it done right.”

For Blasingame and his undergraduates, it’s all about possibilities.

“I want them to have their eyes opened to this – that they could be their own boss, they could go out on their own.  They don’t have to rely on anyone else for their dream. I think many of them already know that but it’s important to bring in these people who have done it and have been really successful to provide inspiration; to show them that it’s not just possible, it’s getting easier and easier every day.”

Alexandra Pernice, SJMC senior and USA Wrestling intern

Growing up both playing and watching her younger sister play sports, senior public relations major Alexandra Pernice of Plano always had a passion for athletics. Today, she is able to combine her love of sports with her educational concentration by serving as an intern for USA Wrestling in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Interning with USOC

USA Wrestling, a non-governing body with the United State Olympic Committee, enlisted Pernice to work as its communications intern. It is her responsibility to write and report everything about the sport.

Pernice, a senior public relations major, is currently interning with the United States Olympic Committee at USA Wrestling.

Pernice, a senior public relations major, is currently interning with the United States Olympic Committee at USA Wrestling.

“Daily, I create releases for updates on rankings and news concerning wrestling and the community,” she said. “I write feature stories about wrestlers from each style (freestyle, women’s freestyle and Greco-Roman), as well as general feature pieces. I also work on updating our website and tracking our activity on Google Analytics to ensure our productivity.”

Pernice stumbled upon the internship opportunity during her junior year at Texas State. Though she initially declined the position, she re-applied this year was offered the internship a second time. A highly coveted position, each USOC internship position has upwards of 200 applicants each semester.

A History of Sports Involvement

While Pernice competed in softball, volleyball, track and cross country throughout high school, it was her younger sister’s wrestling career that helped her to understand the ins and outs of the sport.

“Being related to wrestlers makes you a part of the wrestling community,” she said, “so it was easier to fit in here at USA Wrestling.”

The Balancing Act

Because she is almost finished with her undergraduate career, this internship and one final history credit are all that stand between Pernice and graduation. Between studying for her class, working 40 hour weeks for USA Wrestling, and maintaining a social life, she has learned valuable organization and time management skills. But the biggest challenge for Pernice, however, is not finding that balance – it is living and working so far from home.

“I lived all 21 years of my life in Texas,” she said. “My immediate family and friends are all in Texas. I do have extended family here in Colorado, though, so if I ever need a getaway, I can certainly go to them.”

Pernice is housed among other USOC interns in an on-site dormitory, which creates a support system and a sense of community for all of those living away from home for the first time.

“We all come from different walks of life, and there are hardly any interns from the same state,” she said. “So we are constantly learning and changing with one another. I cannot express enough how we have all been given the chance to bond as young professionals and as friends. We ski, we travel, we explore. It has been an amazing opportunity so far, and I can’t even imagine what the future holds for all of us here during our internships.”

USO Internship Perks

Pernice holding the Olympic torch from the 2012 Olympic Games at the United States Olympic Committee Headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Pernice holding the Olympic torch from the 2012 Olympic Games at the United States Olympic Committee Headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Perhaps one of the most interesting events to come out of this internship, Pernice explained, was seeing Olympic gold medalist swimmer Michael Phelps a few tables away in the dining hall during breakfast. But she is even more excited, she explained, when she gets the opportunity to actually talk with, on both personal and professional levels, Olympic athletes from a variety of sports.

“High profile athletes come through here all of the time, so it’s easy to get quickly star-struck,” said Pernice. “You get used to it, though.”

SJMC Contributes to Pernice’s Success

Pernice owes much of her success in this internship to the education she received through Texas State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

“The Texas State SJMC helped me by taking my passion for writing and turning it into valuable skills that could carry me through such a professional environment,” she said. “I’ve also gained a great amount of confidence from my learning experience in the SJMC, and that has carried me through my experience so far at the USOC and USA Wrestling. I can [now] hold my own around some of the most seasoned professionals.”

While studying in the SJMC, Pernice explained that PR Research with Dr. Kate Peirce is the class that has benefited her the most in her internship.

“I learned a lot about the way we gather data as PR practitioners, and how it’s important to our work,” she said.

The Next Step

Upon graduation, Pernice would like to find a job in sports in the San Antonio/Austin area. She hopes to one day be employed in the USOC, and eventually work towards being involved with the International Olympic Committee.

“Hopefully this internship opportunity will help me get my foot in the door concerning future sports journalism career opportunities,” she said. “I have experienced so much in only a month’s worth of work, so I can only imagine the kind of experience I will be able to offer an employer in the future!”

SJMC student uses drone technology to encourage San Marcos river conservation

by Becky Larson:


Senior SJMC student Kelsie Frommel used both a GoPro camera and a friend’s drone in her project on the San Marcos river.

At peace on the river

“I knew I could make it great because I’m passionate about it.”

Senior Kelsie Frommel shared this thought while discussing her Fall semester Web Publishing final project, in which she used a GoPro camera and a drone to capture dramatic footage of the San Marcos river.

TX State lecturer Dale Blasingame’s class culminates, each semester, in a final project meant to be “a marriage of classic storytelling and digital tools.”

Students are expected to report on an issue or story of their choosing and build a website and incorporate multimedia components that present their work.

Frommel said her decision to highlight San Marcos’ river, and the conservation efforts around it, came from her deep love for the watercourse.

“I chose the river because I love being out there.  I feel most at peace when I’m [there].  And, I really liked the different aspects I was able to capture.”

Bring in the drones

While for many, when tasked with taking a video the first choice of apparatus often comes in the form of a smartphone – Frommel said she immediately thought of a GoPro camera.

“I always had the GoPro out at the river and was always taking different videos,” she said, adding that her experience with the camera was part of her inspiration for her video-based project.

Taking a step further, Frommel asked a friend if she could borrow his DJI Phantom drone for aerial footage, after checking with her professor.

“I first wanted to confirm it would be all right with Dale.  I wanted to make sure he would believe it was my video!”

One can understand her concern when they see her final product.  The video pans across broad expanses of the river with incredibly smooth action and a crisp picture quality not always possible in student work.

The four-propeller drone weighs less than three pounds and is controlled through an app on the user’s phone.  Frommel said the operation was simple and that the hardest part was keeping a steady hand.

While the senior said the Web Publishing class introduced her to digital tools she found challenging, she added that, “it really helped me find my path – I need to be creative.”

Protecting the future

In her piece Frommel highlights some of the native flora and fauna endangered by river pollution, such as the Texas salamander and Texas wild rice, a rare species of grass.

She ends her video entreating students and San Marcos residents to safeguard the river for the future.

“To protect the river and provide future generations with the opportunity to visit this beautiful place, do your part to keep the San Marcos river clean and beautiful.”



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