Mass Comm Week 2017 is Just Around the Corner

unnamedMark your calendars for Mass Comm Week 2017!

Coming up next month, the SJMC will host its annual Mass Communication Week from Oct. 16 to 19. It’s your chance to meet a very wide range of panels and speakers from different companies and organizations that will all bring something new, different and interesting to our students.

We will invite several professionals who will talk about important and current topics as well as what it is  like to work in their specific communications / journalism fields. Students are welcome to attend the panels and sessions that most interest them and will have the opportunity to connect and network with these professionals.

Lecturer Nicole Hengst, graduate assistant Rachel Mosley and a Mass Comm Week committee of several faculty members are running Mass Comm Week this year. Rachel said she is most excited to see the impact that Mass Comm Week has on students this year.

“It’s always great to hear feedback about the event and hear the great stories of students connecting with the professionals that attend,” said Mosley.

Students can follow the event on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat for the latest updates! 

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SJMC alumna and PR professional Jennifer Walsh visits Texas State

SJMC alumna Jennifer Walsh visited Texas State University on Friday morning as a guest speaker in an Intro to Public Relations class. Walsh, who is currently Head of Communications at Covestro, highlighted the importance of writing, personal branding and crisis management as a public relations professional.

Walsh, a former journalism major, said she never imagined she would be working in PR.

“When I was a student, I worked at newspapers and was heavily involved in writing. I never thought I would work with public relations, but now I love it. And I apply my journalism background into everything I do,” said Walsh.

Day-to-day, Walsh is in charge of both internal and external communication for the Bayer subsidiary located in Baytown, TX, including the planning and development of content for electronic billboards, the printed newsletter, the e-newsletter, and even flyers and posters.

“It doesn’t matter where you’re going – you need a foundation in writing,” said Walsh.

Much of Walsh’s job also focuses on building Covestro’s corporate reputation and developing a plan for crisis management. Because most crises can’t be predicted, Walsh explained the importance of being “a good corporate citizen,” saying, “If you haven’t made any donations to charity or you don’t have a presence on social media before a crisis happens, it’s too late.”

Walsh said Covestro has a strategic approach to the events and philanthropies it supports, but it mostly focuses on STEM initiatives, environmental causes, education and workforce development.

“We’re a chemical company, and we have emissions. So much of our strategy is built on how we can offset some of those negative impacts,” said Walsh.

One such initiative is Solar Impulse, a plane that flew around the world last year running completely on solar energy. Covestro not only funded the plane, but its products went into its development.

While Walsh said she loves being part of these positive company-wide efforts, one of the most rewarding aspects of her job is giving back to her local community.

“Especially in this job, I get to do things that benefit the local communities where I live and where my kids go to school,” said Walsh. “It’s things like that that make you feel good.”

Walsh advised students to bone up their digital portfolios and social media. “If I’m hiring someone, I’m looking at your social media,” said Walsh.

Walsh said Twitter, Instagram, Linked In and her personal website have helped her secure her online brand.

Many thanks to Ms. Walsh for speaking to our students on Friday. We love hearing from professionals in the industry, especially SJMC alums!

Alumni Lecture Series, featuring Heloise

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication is honored to feature Southwest Texas State alumna Heloise on Tuesday, March 21 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center Recital Hall.

A 1974 graduate, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Education with a double major in Business Administration and Mathematics along with a teacher’s certificate. She is also a recipient of the University’s Distinguished Alumna Award.

Her syndicated newspaper column, “Hints from Heloise,” appears seven days a week across the United States and internationally. She is a contributing editor to and monthly columnist for “Good Housekeeping” magazine, radio host, and author of several books.

Heloise was recognized in 2009 as a Communicator of Achievement by the National Federation of Press Women. She was given the Headliner Award by the Women in Communications and was the first recipient of the National Mental Health Association’s Mental Health Mission Award for her outstanding contribution to mental health education.

The presentation will begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by a reception at 6:30 p.m.. Parking is available at Edward Gary Garage.

Going with the Current: A Google News Lab Workshop

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Nick Whitaker, Media Outreach Manager at Google, spoke about strategies, trends and directions in data and information and tools that Google News Lab uses to help journalists and entrepreneurs change the future of media by organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful during 2016 Mass Comm Week.

“This is a unique moment in the history of news,” Whitaker said as he opened the Wednesday afternoon session of Mass Comm Week on October 27, 2016. “There are a lot of labs popping up and people are trying new things. Industries are realizing that we should not place in one place forever. It should be adapting and changing.”

Whitaker spoke about Google News Lab’s effort to empower innovation at the intersection of media and technology by sharing his experiences of collaborating with journalists and entrepreneurs to build the future of media with Google. While there are millions of ways of storytelling and understanding the information,Whitaker said “we do this in three ways: training and development, trends, and programs.”

Whitaker also spoke about the importance of VR Journalism that virtual reality is a totally new medium of telling stories. “Interfaces are changing the way we see things. We need to come out from a comfort zone,” said Whitaker. “We need to change the mindset about anxiety into excitement about experimenting with technologies.”

Whitaker emphasized that visual striking storytelling is flourishing like never before and encouraged journalism students with new opportunities for innovation in journalism.

You can follow Nick Whitaker on Twitter at @googlenewslab. For more information about Google News Lab, visit the website g.co/newslab. 

Save the Date for Mass Comm Week 2016!

photo-oct-22-1-00-23-pmMass Communication Week (#mcweek) is a few days away, and the SJMC is very excited for this year’s event! The week long conference brings in a wide variety of speakers and panelists, such as Google, Dieste, Univision, and GSD&M, all of which should be of interest to our mass communication students.

In addition to guest speakers and panelists coming to our great school, a variety of workshops and hands-on sessions will be offered to the students. There will be an average of seven sessions scheduled each day. On October 26, there will be a networking etiquette workshop put on by Career Services. The goal is to prepare students for the speed networking event on Oct. 27, immediately followed by the “Network and Chill” informal reception at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday Oct. 27 for students, alumni, faculty, speakers, advisory council and special guests.

Committee Chair Emmeline Olson, said she is looking forward to the various networking and career development sessions. “What seem like basic or innate skills actually need to be learned and practiced,” said Olson. She added, “Some of the other sessions are more knowledge- or learning-based. The soft skills gained from the networking and career development events create that next step toward getting a job.”

Mass Comm Week committee member A.J Arreguin will oversee the Public Relations, Photography and Hachar teams made up of undergraduate students who are putting the entire event together. Arreguin said he is excited to see how his team members will implement their ideas for the entire event.

The full schedule is posted on the website (txstatemcweek.com). Check the schedule and arrive early because space may be limited. You can follow them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat for the latest updates.

NPPA Advanced Storytelling Workshop

cover_ASW_0The NPPA Advanced Storytelling Workshop is a week-long event, April 3-8, held at Texas State University that brings together top professionals in the television and newspaper industry from throughout the world.

Dr. David Nolan said that he is excited for the event because it will be a full house.

“We have more than 50 professional television and newspaper photographers and reporters coming from all over the world, 10 high school students and their teachers from the Vidal M. Trevino School of Fine Arts and Communication in Laredo, Texas, my Visual Storytelling class students, and of course our award winning workshop faculty,” Nolan said.

Students will have the chance to work side by side with some of America’s best journalists, which is a unique opportunity that few institutions can offer their students.

Students who attend the workshop will develop story ideas, research, report, shoot, edit and produce two stories throughout the week.

“Every year our students come away from the workshop changed, with a better understanding of how great stories are told,” Nolan said. “Many students from previous years cite the NPPA Advanced Storytelling Workshop as the highpoint of their college experience.”

If you are interested in the workshop, visit the NPPA’s website.

SJMC launches first-ever “Mentor Session Series” at Austin high schools

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 10.17.54 AMThe Texas State University School of Journalism and Mass Communication launched its first-ever Mentor Session Series this week with an opportunity to talk to students from two Austin high schools.

SJMC faculty members Kym Fox, an associate professor of practice in journalism, and Dale Blasingame, a digital media lecturer, spoke to journalism and computer science students from Akins and Bowie high schools Thursday evening. The discussion centered on media jobs of the future. Many of the 30 or so students in attendance are currently enrolled in a newspaper and digital media class taught by Akins teacher David Doerr, a 2005 SJMC graduate.

This is the first in a series of mentor sessions for SJMC faculty.

“Like so many journalists, I found my passion for the profession in high school,” Fox said. “I think universities have an obligation to foster the next generation of journalists, and too many high schools are left without support from either the profession or academia.”

Much of the mentor series presentation focused on data journalism. Students were shown several examples of high-quality data projects and got their hands on a real data set to organize and ask questions of. Fox and Blasingame also explained the skills needed to find a job in the ever-changing media landscape.

“I was so impressed with the students who took part,” Blasingame said. “They already had experience with coding, data and spreadsheets. That’s more than a lot of professional journalists can say. It’s encouraging to see high school programs like this.”

You can view examples of the Akins HS journalism class by visiting its website or following along on Twitter.

Burnie Burns of Rooster Teeth visits Digital Entrepreneurship Speaker Series

Michael Justin “Burnie” Burns visited Texas State University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication as the seventh and final speaker of the Digital Entrepreneurship Speaker Series on Weds, April 22. Burns is the co-creator of the internet video series “Red vs. Blue” and co-founder of the production company Rooster Teeth.

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Digital media professor Jon Zmikly began the Q&A-style discussion by asking Burns to give a history of his career in digital production. Though he started as a biology pre-med student at the University of Texas in Austin, he switched his major to computer science during his senior year, due to his interest in the rise of the Internet in the mid-90s.

Burns also became interested in filmmaking. But instead of taking classes to learn film production, he grabbed and college buddy and decided to learn as they went.

“It took us 13 months to shoot and edit our film,” said Burns. “And that was just the beginning. The real challenge was the distribution, like getting the film into an independent film festival. You send your film in, and a committee of eight or nine people determine if your film can be screened in a room full of 200 people at a festival. We got a lot of nice rejection letters.” Read more of this post

Peabody Award-winning video journalist visits Digital Entrepreneurship Speaker Series

Peabody Award-winning video journalist Whitney Shefte of The Washington Post visited the Texas State University School of Journalism and Mass Communication on Weds, April 1. The Q&A discussion was facilitated by Dr. David Nolan, professor of visual communication at Texas State, as part of the Digital Entrepreneurship Speaker Series.

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Whitney Shefte answers Dr. David Nolan’s interview questions for the audience
Photo by Dale Blasingame

From Internship to Full-Time Position

Nolan opened the discussion by asking Shefte to describe her duties as Senior Video Journalist at The Washington Post. She explained that she and her team of writers create documentary-style stories, as opposed to traditional broadcast media. Her duties include shooting and editing interviews and B-roll, traveling, and some writing. The opportunity to work with The Washington Post came as a result of a summer internship, which Shefte secured with her skills in editing audio.

“At the time I was hired as an intern, audio slideshows were the hot new thing in web journalism,” she said. “And my audio editing skills blew them away.”

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Founder of Titan Music Group, Austin Music Foundation talks music industry, data with SJMC students

Nikki Rowling, founder of the Austin Music Foundation and the consulting firm Titan Music Group, stopped by the School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s Digital Entrepreneurship Speaker Series on Weds, March 11 to talk music, data and business with the mass comm students. The Q&A style discussion was led by SJMC associate professor Cindy Royal.

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Cindy Royal (left) and Nikki Rowling (right), discussing music and business – photo by Dale Blasingame

Although Rowling is not a musician herself, having a love of music and many friends in the artist class fueled her passion to begin a career in the music industry. In 2002, she and her business partner left the tech world to launch the Austin Music Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on teaching local artists how to make a sustainable living. Rowling realized that she had learned a lot about the tech industry and acquired a lot of skills, but wanted to pour her efforts into something that better captured her interest and passion.

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