Meet the Staff: Laura Krantz – University Star Director and SJMC Faculty Member

_DSC0978Lecturer Laura Krantz is the new director at the University Star, the Texas State University student newspaper. Originally from Houston, Laura moved to Albuquerque as a junior in high school, and then attended The University of New Mexico where she had been a junior college student media adviser for 10 years.

She is excited to be part of the pivotal time in a person’s life — the college years — and encourage them to do their best work and usher them out into the “real world.” At Texas State University, Laura loves teaching MC 1313 and seeing students learn the purpose and mechanics of media writing.

Laura likes to watch students who love journalism come onto a college campus and find their “tribe.” Laura’s office at the University Star is always open for students to get advice, so be sure to meet Laura and welcome her to Texas State!

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SJMC Study Abroad Part One: London

The following four-part series regarding the SJMC’s Study Abroad program to London and Rome was contributed by SJMC graduate student, Joshua Morrison. Check back each day this week for coverage of events that took place in Europe this June. 

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s London/Europe summer study abroad program just wrapped up its fourth annual trip, and brought back its fourth group of forever-changed students.

For this series of posts, we talked to some of those students, and we’ll be sharing the ways in which the program broadened their horizons and provided them with an experience they’ll never forget.

The trip began in London, where the program leaders, Drs. Sandhya Rao and Judy Oskam, and Mr. Harry Bowers, arranged for an impressive itinerary of visits to both media organizations and cultural sites. For this particular piece, students shared their experiences and discuss what they learned from the former.

One of the opportunities that provided students with particular excitement was getting to visit the headquarters of two leading news organizations: The Guardian and CNN London. Each visit provided a unique perspective on a vibrant and dynamic field.

As a historically print-oriented news outlet, The Guardian gave students a firsthand look at how one of the media landscape’s biggest names is adapting to the digital era. Eleni Stefanou, who is The Guardian’s head of social, discussed the organization’s efforts to engage readers through social and video content.

Stefanou’s talk provided students with the opportunity to hear from a professional about the industry changes they have been learning about in their coursework.

“It was inspiring to see how journalism is not a dying art, but a changing art,” said senior David Coronado. “The writers, editors and all of The Guardian’s employees are so dedicated to their work.”

The program’s visit to CNN London was made possible by a Texas State alum, Bharati Naik, who serves as a planning producer for the organization.

While students were thrilled to get some photographs of themselves sitting behind the CNN news desk, it was the in-depth tour that really stunned.

“Getting to see the production side of an international newsroom really gave a lot of us perspective and it was unbelievable to see it first hand,” said senior Madison Morriss.

The itinerary also included opportunities for students to learn from public relations practitioners.

Students received a half-day seminar from Weber Shandwick, a global firm who shared their varied expertise and provided a comprehensive look at all of the work that goes into successful campaigns.

“It was incredible to hear about award-winning campaigns and have each director of the different branches of the company explain their input into the end product,” said senior Chris Soliz. “Seeing how such a large company uses communication internally while creating effective communication externally in such powerful ways was such a valuable experience.”

 

 

#FeaturedWorkFriday: Pablo Mejia

SJMC undergraduate Pablo Mejia contributed this excellent piece for his final project in Photojournalism course instructed by Anna Mazurek. Mejia showcases the artistic talents of “The Man in the Mirror,” Texas State University bus driver, Kim Gardner. 

Texas State University students fill the maroon bus from both sides. It’s 7:30 A.M. as bus driver Kim Garner, greets the students that slowly drag themselves to fill the seats. The door closes and the braking system makes a loud, “TSST” sound. Garner looks back in his rear-view mirror making sure the students are prepared for the morning commute to school. He takes a quick look over his shoulder and swiftly turns the wheel, making a left onto Aquarena Springs Drive. The chatter from the radio fills the air as the students pull out their phones and check their social media. Garner pulls up to the intersection, waits for the light to turn green and waves at the other Texas State bus driver across the road. He drops the students off at the Undergraduate Academic Center and completes Route 20.

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Kim Garner is 63 years old. He is from Nordic descent and has green, hazy eyes. His blonde hair falls just short of covering his brows. With a full goatee, it’s hard to tell his age. He grew up in Laguna Beach, California with his dad, his stepbrother Stephan and his stepmother. Growing up on the west coast, Garner attended three different high schools. During his senior year, he attended a journalism class in which his teacher recommended he drop the class. She stated that ‘a jock’ would not be able to pass her class. The teacher teased Garner, giving him the task of writing his own novel during the semester. She was surprised when Garner presented her with an outline to a story. For the past 25 years, his paintings have been flections from the novel he first wrote in high school.

“Working through discouragement is really interesting. You could be a very talented person, in any human endeavor. It could be anything, a doctor, an engineer, but you won’t ever obtain anything if you give up.” Garner said as he looked dead ahead, his gaze fixed on the traffic.

Garner sets up his up his latest painting in the living room of his studio apartment. The historic house is split up into individual apartments. Garner and his wife share their home with their two dogs.

Garner empties out a box full of acrylic paint onto the floor. He shifts towards a rectangular paint tray, squirts out a good amount of red and blue and gets to work. Garner’s work is always of substantial size. The stretched canvas he has propped up comes up to his chest. Every so often he takes a step back, paint brush in his mouth, and looks hard at the painting.

“This has been the past 12 years of my life” Garner said. The woman in Garner’s painting is wearing a red dress with a raven perched sternly on her shoulder. For about five years he had painted “Magdalena” without face. He wanted the character to have an original face, something thatcould be uniquely his.

“It has taken me two years to finish out a painting, you can’t rush it. There are moments when your painting is taking on its own voice.” Garner said. “You must have something that’s you, it could be music or anything else. They must look at your work and say that’s a Kim Garner.”

Garner stores some of his painting in a storage unit on the outskirts of San Marcos. He slides the metal green door up and one by one, takes out several large-scale canvases. The paintings are filled with brushstrokes made in vibrant, primary colors. The narrow hallway is filled with

Garner’s last 25 years of work. Garner’s paintings reflect his environment. In his series about a Hispanic woman, “Raquel” is pictured with boots and a cowboy hat. She wears a bandolier and has plenty of guns. In one painting, she is pictured sitting down, holding onto her rifle and large knife with a bottle of liquor nearby. As a painter, Garner has the creative freedom to paint anything he wants. His horses are orange and blue and the mountains are a vivid purple. The clouds he paints are arranged in oddly trademarked shapes.

“As a painter, I can get away with stuff.” Garner said. “I could give this painting to my son who works with troubled children, he could show it to his kids and they could give it a completely different idea that I had.”
Garner remains contemplative as he slows the bus to a halt, flinging open the doors to release the students to their perspective stops. He patiently waits for some students running towards the bus as he returns his glance to the reflection of the rear-view mirror. He glimpses up at the exiting passengers and offers a kindly grin.

“I try to make even just small exchanges over time, you get to know the kids.” Garner said. “Those small exchanges make you who you are.”

“I’m a believer in the word reflection, you must take time to reflect on the things you are doing in order to make the next creative decision.” Garner said. “If you are going to make the world a better place, you must start with yourself.” Garner says good bye to the last remaining students as they empty the bus. He keeps his cool as other drivers speed around him in their commute home.

“Today I could meet someone that is going to completely change my life and I wouldn’t even know it. Life is that unpredictable.” Garner said.

“You have to be aware that who you are and how you act is going to impact who you’re going to meet. If I’m unapproachable then how [will] a person that is going to change your life ever meet you?” Garner looks forward with an open mind about the people he encounters and the experiences that may shape his future paintings. The day winds down as he completes Route 12.

Featured Work Friday: Kambiz Shabankare

The SJMC’s own photojournalism course instructed by Anna Mazurek has produced some remarkable content! Photojournalism student, Kambiz Shabankare, created this incredible feature story on the Battleship Texas BB-35 and San Jacinto Historic Site volunteer, Charles Smith. Check out his photos and story below!

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Charles Smith: Fighting on Behalf of the History

Charles Smith, while carrying two boxes, walked toward a bench near the Texas Capitol building in Austin, Texas. The bench has been his spot every Saturday for the last four years. Smith opened the boxes one by one. He took out, from the first one, a model of the Battleship Texas BB-35 made of wood and from the other one several books and some DVDs. He placed each of them on the bench in an exact order, like every single object owned a particular area.

“I don’t want to be so close to the Capitol,” Smith said while placing the objects, “I don’t want to disturb the visitors who come to see the building, but this spot is perfect.” His spot is neither too close nor too far. Smith usually stands next to this bench, approaches visitors who are passing by and shares his knowledge of the battleship with them.

“It started 30 years ago. That was the first time I saw the battleship,” Smith said. He was 24 when saw the Battleship Texas BB-35 for the first time. On Aug. 31, 1983, the battleship transferred to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and was placed in Todd Shipyard in Galveston, Texas.

“She fought both first and second world wars,” Smith said, “I had read about her since I was a child, but it’s different when you are touching her beautiful body and walking on her deck.” The first meeting turned into a life changing event for Smith.

On April 30, 1948, few years after the end of the second world war, the battleship retired and became the first battleship, in the U.S history, presented as a memorial museum. The days of retirements seemed to be easy at the beginning. People remembered the battleship and her remarkable achievements during the war. The battleship’s presence in several battles like Iwo Jima and Battle of Cherbourg was not something that the Americans could easily forget. However, as time passed her heroic actions turned into the distant and forgotten memories. In 1956, she was commissioned as the flagship of the Texas Navy and was transferred to the Battleship Texas Commission, where her bravery turned into a nightmare.

“I am wondering if they hated her so much, they left her to die,” Smith said while his eyes were filled with a spark of anger. The commission’s negligent act against the battleship resulted in cracks and gaps in coated surfaces, water intrusion and steel deterioration.

“They knowingly destroyed her,” Smith continues, “they could have done some proper maintenance, but instead they used improper colors and materials. On one occasion, they painted the wall on the captain’s cabin and destroyed a historical world map on the wall.”

“I paid 20 dollars every week for the past two months, now I have it,” Charles Smith said while opening the box of the Wonder Woman action figure. The Comic Relief is one of few places that Smith spends time outside of his job and his passion for the battleship.

Finally, in 1983, Texas State Legislature decided to step in and assigned the battleship to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), and by Aug. 31, 1983, TPWD had the sole guardianship of the Battleship Texas BB-35. “It was a happy day,” Smith said, “She was, finally, going to be with the people who cared about her.” TPWD hired some engineers to repair the battleship. The maintenance took five years. In 1988, the Battleship Texas BB-35 began her final journey to Houston. “The problem was people could not accurately remember her anymore,” Smith alleged, “Somebody had to do something, I mean I had to do something.”

Smith always has been a lonely boy. His childhood memories are filled with being bullied by his brother and by his classmates. “I didn’t have a real friend. I was mostly hanging out with my brother’s friends. They were way older than me,” Smith said. In high school, he fell in love with history. “I was alone during the breaks, so I would go somewhere and read a historical book.” Smith added, “there was no one to protect me, not even my parents.”

Lack of protection and absence of a savior has always been Smith’s concern. Therefore, from Smith’s perspective, the Texas Commission’s negligent is comparable to what he experienced as a little boy.

In 1996, Smith, who was working in Austin mostly in seasonal jobs decided to move back to San Marcos, where he was born and grow up. “I ran away from Austin,” Smith continued while laughing, “My sister-in-law was tried to hook me up with some of her friends. I need my freedom.” He already owned a trailer, so it was a total freedom comparing to his experience of living with his married brother. He was free after all and more isolated this time.

Before moving back to San Marcos Smith realized that reintroducing the story of the Battleship Texas BB-35 to Texans has become the only mission he desired to focus on. “They don’t teach the real history in universities,” Smith emphasized, “She represents some of the most crucial events in the history of the world.” Smith’s first presentation, at the Wake the Dead Coffee House, was a total disaster. “I had my video books and my model of the battleship ready,” Smith said, “there were only a few people and I knew all of them.” After showing the video, when people started to ask questions, Smith suddenly froze. “At that moment I understood, love is not always enough,” Smith smiled and continued, “love without knowledge is incomplete.”

Charles Smith lives in an old trailer in Martindale, Texas near San Marcos. “I have everything I need,” Smith said. Alongside his passion for the battleship and a job that pays his bills, Smith feels there is nothing more he can wish for. “I don’t have a girlfriend or wife and my trailer is big enough for my books,” Smith said.

Smith spent the next two years learning every detail about the Battleship Texas BB-35, WWII, WWI and the history of America’s naval battles from 1914 to 1950. In 2010, He did his second presentation this time at the Grin’s Restaurant. “30 people were staring at me,” Smith said. Two years chasing and collecting the knowledge had paid off. “I was on fire,” Smith added, “there was no question that I couldn’t answer.”

On April 22, 2017, Smith has become an official volunteer at TPWD to represent the Battleship Texas BB-35. “No one is paying me to do it, but still is an honor,” Smith said while was collecting his belongings and putting them back into the boxes. Then he walked toward the horizon and disappeared like a lonely cowboy.

JMC Living-Learning Community Meets with Professionals

Twice during the spring semester, the Journalism and Mass Communication Living-Learning Community traveled to media-related companies for tours and real-world advice from media professionals. The field trips catered to each realm of mass communication: public relations, advertising, electronic media, digital media innovation, and journalism.

First, students toured the Edelman PR firm in downtown Austin where employees discussed different accounts and showed examples of their work for clients like Kentucky Fried Chicken and REI. At Edelman, the Learning Community students had the opportunity to ask interns, newly-hired and experienced PR professionals questions concerning the field and the requirements for working at the firm.

Next, they were immersed into the world of advertising at McGarrah Jessee. The advertising company provided extensive interviews with members of each department to emphasize unique responsibilities and opportunities within the company and industry.

Students learned more about the broadcasting and journalism aspects of the media industry when they traveled to San Antonio to tour KABB Fox 29 and San Antonio Express-News. While at the television station, the aspiring storytellers went behind the scenes to watch a live broadcast of Daytime at Nine from the set. They received a tour of the building from the Lifestyle Associate Producer, Carlos Hernandez. Hernandez, a Texas State alumnus, offered advice on beneficial classes and landing internships in the field.

The last stop at San Antonio Express-News proved the changing industry has much to offer prospective journalists and photographers. After a tour of the newsroom, pressroom, and photography department, the students had a broad understanding of the daily routines at a newspaper. Those interested in sports had the opportunity to meet with the sports editor and receive specific advice.

Each career field trip offered relevant and tangible opportunities of insight and networking that will prepare students for the media professions. We are thankful to have proud alumni and professionals who are willing to spend time with our students!

Story by Lily Reeves, pre-electronic media major

Featured Student Work: Inside the Ring on the Outskirts of San Marcos

SJMC student Victoria Morin created this fantastic piece on Boxing Kings Gym in San Marcos, TX for her final project in Anna Mazurek’s Photojournalism course. Check out the slideshow and her story below!


Jose Perez opened Boxing Kings Gym in 2012 and trains boxers of all ages. It’s about a 10-minute drive off of U.S. Route 281, and is located on the outskirts of San Marcos, Texas.

Perez had been taking his son to train at another boxing gym, Bully Unit, for a few years before he decided to leave and open his own place. Bully Unit was also located in San Marcos and had an efficient facility, with enough space and equipment for training the dozens of members in attendance. The head coach began to sway his priorities away from the children, and staying there was no longer fulfilling for Perez and his son.

One day, Bully Unit was supposed to meet with some of the other boxing gyms from the San Marcos area so the boxers could spar, but the head coach didn’t show up.

“Everyone was ready, but the head coach wasn’t there,” said Perez. “My son was in the ring with no one in his corner. We had to continue without him, and when he finally showed up, everyone was already done. He wasn’t there for the kids, and we weren’t going to stay loyal to someone who didn’t care about his own team.”

That same night, Perez spoke with one of the other parents, Carlos Heredia, and agreed that they needed a new place to train their sons. They originally intended to coach the two kids on the weekends outside one of their homes, but after the other boxers, including Michael Coronado who was fighting professionally, heard about their idea, they wanted to follow. Bully Unit closed five months after that.

It started with four boxers, which was manageable for the pair of newly-proclaimed coaches. They started using a friend’s garage that already had boxing bags set up. Then, as people left Bully Unit and wanted to join Perez and Heredia, it grew from four members, to eight, then to 10 within weeks. They realized the small garage was no longer sufficient. They needed their own gym.

“I opened this gym mostly because I wanted my son to have a stable place to train for the Junior Olympics that were coming up,” said Perez. “After that, he went on to win a couple more fights. Then, all of a sudden he decided he didn’t want to do it anymore. He just quit. We could’ve closed then, but at the same time we want these kids to have a place to train.”

Boxing Kings Gym makes no profit. More money is put into running the gym than the owners accumulate from collecting the monthly membership fee of $40 from each boxer. When someone comes to their gym and isn’t able to afford the fee, they waive it. All the equipment, including the helmets, gloves and bags, was provided by Perez and his wife and is made available to anyone that walks into the gym. He and Heredia built the ring themselves out of wood, ropes and padding.

Perez and his wife, Sara, pride themselves in being able to provide the gym for the community. Most of the current members have been attending the gym since it opened, although not consistently. Most boxers will attend for two or three months, then they stop coming, mainly because of the lack of discipline.

Boxing requires commitment, intense exercise and self-control. Coronado, who is 25 years old, was one of the first four boxers to start training with Perez. He began boxing when he was 16 years old and entered his first fight on his 18th birthday: he won. After that victory, Coronado took a year off.

“Winning my first fight was a big accomplishment for me,” said Coronado. “I felt fulfilled because I had always wanted to box, so I took time off. After a year, I realized how much I missed it, so I came back. Then, I won a couple more fights, took another year off, and it’s been kind of a cycle since. I wasn’t focused, and that’s what killed me. I know if I had more discipline I’d be so much farther by now.”

This pattern is seen frequently by Perez and Jorge Rincon, the assistant coach who joined the team a year after it opened. They will spend time and effort into training each boxer, and then they stop showing up. It’s usually for a variety of reasons, mostly time constraints since most of its members are students. For others, the physical toll on their bodies is too much to bear.

Sebastian Alvarez is another member who has been attending Boxing Kings Gym on and off for four years. He was finally ready to enter his first fight and won, but soon after, he took a blow that was enough to make him quit for a few months. He returned about a year ago and is focused on preparing to fight again.

“He lost passion for boxing all because of that hit,” said Perez. “We train a lot of kids and get to the point where they’re ready to fight, and they disappear. For Sebastian, it took one body shot to make him quit. For others, they don’t even make it to their first fight and they run. They’ll get scared after their first time sparring. They get intimidated. We have the gym, but no fighters.”

Regardless of who leaves or why they left. Perez and his wife still welcome them back. They understand that every one of their boxers has their own obligations that might set them back and keep them from fully committing. It’s more than a team of boxers: it’s a family, and that’s why their members are loyal. When they are ready to return, it’s as if they never left.

If someone comes with the sole intention of getting fit, they are welcomed no less that someone who wants to compete. Each boxer, to the Perez family, contributes something to the gym that increases its value. No one is turned away.

“We’ve been here for those who need us,” said Perez. “How long? I don’t know. As long as the people in San Marcos need a gym, my doors will stay open.”

SJMC’s 2017 Awards Ceremony

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication honored its brightest and best students at the 2017 Awards Ceremony in Old Main on Tuesday. Proud parents, family members, faculty and staff joined in celebrating the scholars’ achievements. Check out the photo slideshow below for a visual recap of the event, and learn about our outstanding student honors!

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.

Dr. Cindy Royal speaks on integrating digital culture in academia at SXSW

In Saturday’s SXSW Interactive panel “Disrupting J School with Digital Culture”, SJMC’s Dr. Cindy Royal explained how academic institutions can be more nimble by developing a culture of innovation. Joined by University of Southern California Annenberg’s Robert Hernandez, the session started with an introduction to digital culture, then discussed how innovation is happening at each of their respective schools, and ended by providing advice for other academics seeking to introduce digital concepts and topics into curriculum.

Dr. Cindy Royal began by explaining how students have three options when it comes to digital courses in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Texas State University. They can either take digital-focused electives, add a digital concentration to their major, or sign up for a Digital Media Innovation major. With digital courses like the Fundamentals of Digital and Online Media, Coding and Data Skills, Social Media and Analytics and one-credit short courses like Digital Tools: 360 Video & VR, any student has a wide variety of curriculum options from which to choose.

At USC Annenberg’s School for Communication and Journalism, Hernandez said he’s not just preparing students for disruption; he’s preparing them to be leaders of disruption. Through innovative courses that partner with leading media companies such as NPR, the New York Times and ProPublica, Hernandez said diversity in his courses breeds creativity.

“What was magical was the diversity of students from different disciplines and watching them learn from each other. We have students from public relations, communication, gaming, engineering, and each one brings his or her craft to the table. These are different cultures coming together to collaborate, which is what they’ll experience when they enter the real world.”

Overcoming Challenges

Developing innovative curriculum in academia does not come without its challenges. Both Royal and Hernandez explained the disrupting traditional systems is not easy and that funding can often be an issue.

“We do a lot with a little,” said Royal. “Our director Dr. Judy Oskam is great at finding pockets of money for us, and she’s been very open to find funding to support our efforts.”

However, one major misconception about innovation is that it is too costly. While some digital equipment is highly expensive, many tools and hardware isn’t as bad as one might think. The Insta360 camera that Hernandez set up to live-stream the presentation, for example, only cost $199.

“Sometimes, smartphones might be all someone needs for an innovative project.  You can do this with little to no money,” said Royal.

Being a product of a newsroom with a bootstrap budget, Hernandez said he’s used to “hustling with nothing.” Consolidating resources has been one solution for USC, where the school even eliminated some computer labs because so many students already had their own laptops.

Outside of a budget increase, Royal said grants are also a valuable source for funding.”If grants don’t cover equipment, you can set up trips for training,” said Royal. “Get creative, and prioritize your needs.” Both Hernandez and Royal also advised academics to partner and share resources with other organizations and even academic institutions that value innovation.

Building A Culture of Innovation

While a lack of funding can be difficult, affecting the overall digital culture of an organization can be more of a challenge.

“One person can’t do this,” said Royal. “You can’t have that token ‘digital’ person in an organization — you need people who are willing to take their spare time to learn this stuff.”

Hernandez said he often has be his own “hype man” for his projects and goals, especially for those who don’t truly understand what he does.

Overall, the duo’s advice for developing a more innovative culture in academia was to model the behavior first.

“When you show off student projects and successes, people start to take notice. It becomes attractive to other faculty,” said Royal.