Media Innovation Lab Coming Soon

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication has add a new addition to the program. Starting this fall, students will be able to receive a BS in Digital Media Innovation. The Digital Media Innovation major will prepare students for any new and emerging media roles. Check out the gallery below to catch a sneak peek of the new Media Innovation Lab!



Twitter Takeover

Last week, alum and former Fundamentals of Digital Media (FDOM) Grad Assistant Randy Estevanes took over our Twitter account. He showed us and our followers what it’s like to work at a digital marketing firm.

Coffee might wake you up, but Red Bull gives you wings!

Always remember to proofread. It helps you iron out any unnecessary errors.

The SJMC also hires interns to assist in content creation and social media marketing. Learn more about it here.

Don’t forget to check out Esd & Associates when you’re looking for fall internships!

What better way to promote Goodwill on social media then with real authentic pictures!

Randy uses for its variety of design presentations, social media graphics and thousands of layouts.

Nice collage!

How awesome is it that Esd & Associates provides healthy snacks for them? #Winning

Knowing how to schedule post is an great tool to have under your belt!

Take note student: Google Adwords is a MAJOR asset!

Thank you again, Randy, for showing us your world. Once a Bobcat, always a Bobcat! #Eat’emUp

Kickin’ it with George Kiel III


Jon Zmikly interviewing George Kiel III during the Digital Media Entrepreneurship Speaker Series. Photo by Dr. Cindy Royal

By: Jennifer Alvord

Texas State alumnus George Kiel III spoke to students during The Digital Media Entrepreneurship Speaker Series about his career at and non-profit organization Kiel Colon Cancer Foundation.

Kiel graduated from Texas State University in 2008 with a degree in journalism and was extremely involved during his time here. While taking 19 hours his senior year, Kiel wrote for the University Star, played basketball for the university and interned for the FOX affiliate in Austin.

Kiel is currently Editor-in-Chief of, one of the Internet’s most comprehensive sneaker-themed sites, and is the co-founder of Kiel Colon Cancer Foundation. Kiel founded the foundation and the Kick & Roll Classic 3-on-3 Basketball Event as a promise to honor his mother’s name and extend her legacy through his love for basketball and sneakers.

Since Nice Kicks is solely online, Kiel said that pushing content through social media is essential. “Social media can be a big engine as far as who sees what and how they see it,” he said. “Social media is key.”

Kiel also believes that what sets companies apart from each other is content. “Content is king,” he said. “Having exclusive content is what makes you stand out.” At Nice Kicks, Kiel helped create a series called Kicks on the Court, which is a daily feature with exclusive content about shoes worn by basketball players.


SJMC Students Go Mobile at Garner State Park

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SJMC students prepare for one final hike at Garner State Park. Photo by Sasha Kodet

By Dale Blasingame

A group of 16 School of Journalism and Mass Communication students spent the weekend of Feb. 27-28 outdoors – in the name of mobile storytelling.

The students were part of the first-ever Mobile Storytelling in the Park course, taught by Dale Blasingame in coordination with Texas Parks and Wildlife. The class, which was part of the SJMC short course series, featured two weeks of online learning about how to shoot professional-quality photos and videos on your phone – everything from shot composition, camera apps, editing apps and storytelling techniques. The students then traveled to Garner State Park to put those ideas to the test. They were responsible for four video projects while in the park, all with the goal of getting more college-aged students to visit state parks across Texas.

“It got me out of my comfort zone,” said Abby Watson, an advertising senior. “I feel like in class, you just sit there and might get a little bored. But with this, you’re constantly going.”

Faculty members Kym Fox and Jon Zmikly, along with Ky Harkey, Tyler Priest, Sasha Kodet and Whitney Bishop from Texas Parks and Wildlife, assisted with the course.

Zmikly helped lead a drone demonstration with DJI Phantom Quadcopters 2 and 3 and contributed to the official Texas State University’s Snapchat (txstateu) during the weekend workshop.

“I loved getting outside and helping students with their projects. Their stories were really creative, and I could tell they had a lot of fun. These are the kinds of experiences students don’t get in the classroom,” said Zmikly.

Students used GoPros, HD mini-cameras, smartphones, mini-tripods and lapel mics to cover and capture the weekend experience, and they also gained experience with drones and 360 cameras. Footage was then edited and uploaded to various social media sites, and mobile hotspots were used when service wasn’t available. One creative project is their 360 video of the sunset over Mount Baldy where you can see the Frio river to the east (as the below video plays, click and drag your mouse for different views).

On Saturday evening, Texas Parks and Wildlife photographers led a session on night photography where students learned about aperture settings, shutter speeds and different ISO options.

The students are currently working in teams on different mini-documentary projects that will be used by Texas Parks and Wildlife. They’ve already submitted individual video projects on Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook.

To see their work, search the #txstgarner hashtag across the different social networks.

SJMC student wins regional award for thesis

Sergio Carvajal-Leoni in a suit

Sergio Carvajal-Leoni. Photo from

As a SJMC graduate student, Venezuelan-born Sergio Carvajal-Leoni, won a campus-wide award for his thesis, the Graduate College’s Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award in Digital Scholarship.

Now he has won again, at the highest level, the regional level, where he is receiving the Digital Scholarship award from the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools. His award, a plaque and $1000 honorarium, will be presented at the CSGS Awards Luncheon at the Omni Charlotte Hotel in Charlotte, NC on Friday, Feb. 19, 2016 at 11:30 a.m., and he attributes some of his success to his time at Texas State.

“The stuff I did in San Marcos, was the best decision of my life,” he told me. “I’ve decided to finish up with a PhD.”

Carvajal-Leoni called his research project the Intercultural Transmedia Approach to Learning, or ITAL.

“I’ve been working on models of community building media,” he said. “Any group of people who share an interest.”

By founding ITAL, he was able to focus on applying Communication Infrastructure Theory while creating a hyper-local documentary series called the Texan Italian Stories.

The key research concept behind the series, was how creating media could bring together the Italian niche community in Central Texas.

He attributed his success to both the freedom and guidance his thesis supervisor, Dr. Sandy Rao, provided him.

Carvajal-Leoni also thanked two Texas State University researchers on his thesis committee, Dr. Federico Subervi and Dr. Moira DiMauro.

ITAL partner, Romina Olson

Romina Olson. Photo from

“Texas State played a crucial role in that journey,” Carvajal-Leoni told me. “This award is like, a validation, that this was the right journey to take.”

Despite being the lead researcher, writer, editor and director, Carvajal-Leoni was very modest about his achievement. He praised his ITAL partner, Romina Olson, as well as two USC researchers Dr. Sandra Ball-Rokeach and Dr. Henry Jenkins that played an instrumental role in the project.

If there’s one thing Carvajal-Leoni made clear, he loves Texas.

“I’ve been living in Austin since ’99,” he said. “I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could.”

SJMC Digital Short Course Series


This fall, SJMC offered its first Digital Short Course Series. These one-credit-hour courses are meant to provide students with an introduction to cutting-edge, digital topics. Students may take one, two or all three courses in a semester. This semester, the topics were Digital Media Ethics (taught by Jon Zmikly), Drones and Sensors (taught by Cindy Royal and Dale Blasingame) and Coding Workshop (taught by Cindy Royal).

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Jon Zmikly leads the online Digital Media Ethics course.

The Digital Media Ethics course was delivered completely online over three weeks. Students completed modules via TRACS, covering topics including Truth in Storytelling, Transparency and Community.

Sensor Workshop

Cindy Royal assists with a sensor connection.

The Drones and Sensors course was delivered in a hybrid model with two weeks of online work that culminated in a one-day, in-person workshop. Students gained experience working with a drone and using a sensor kit. They manipulated connections on the sensor to control LED lights, monitor brightness, detect motion and log temperatures to a spreadsheet.

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Students in the Coding Workshop learned the skills to create an interactive quiz.

The Coding Workshop was delivered in a similar hybrid manner, with two weeks of online preparation leading to a one-day workshop. In the workshop, students got experience with HTML, CSS and JavaScript, developing an interactive quiz. They learned the basics of Web design and introductory programming syntax.

Students had positive responses in blog posts about the workshops.

As it turns out, I LOVE messing with tiny breadboards and photons. The whole process tapped into the engineer buried somewhere in my brain, and we even got to mess around with coding, another casual interest of mine.

I developed a strong interest in these topics when I realized how significant this technology is in both good and bad ways. Flying drones over volcanoes? The capability to take photographs and videos of endless matters that a human could never possibly do for themselves? Count me in! Spying neighbors or general violations of privacy? No sir.

Drones and sensors class was a blast! What other course lets you play with flying cameras and tinker with electronics?

Getting to see all of those radio buttons and objects respond to your changes makes me happy in the heart for some odd reason.

You can make anything you want whether it is your own website, a quiz, a form, etc. I did not realize how easy it was and how fast it is to create these things with coding.

Taking this class has to be one of the best decisions of my career. The main reason I feel that way is because now if you want to be involved in media, you have to know how to build a website and know a bit of coding.

You can read all the student observations by visiting the course sites linked above.

The gender makeup of these sessions was 83% female, which indicates that women are interested and enthusiastic about technology topics related to communication careers.

The Spring 2016 Digital Short Course series includes three more cutting edge classes: Framing Solutions-Storytelling Through Digital Narrative taught by Holly Wise, Mobile Storytelling in the Park and Digital Media Entrepreneurship, both taught by Dale Blasingame. See CatsWeb for registration information for these Spring courses.

More photos from the workshops:

SJMC students live on Twitter

This past week, Fundamentals of Digital and Online Media (FDOM) students participated in a Twitter Scavenger Hunt.  FDOM uses Twitter as its main form of class communication. The objective of this particular assignment was to help students get comfortable with different Twitter features as well as utilizing social media to promote their own personal brand. Students used the class hashtag, #FDOM15 and the school hashtag, #TXST in every tweet to help connect with their classmates and other students at Texas State.

Students were given ten different topics to tweet about and were asked to include quotes, pictures and links to engage followers and promote creativity. Some of the Twitter topics included their favorites spots to eat on campus, student organizations, upcoming events, and Bobcat pride. Take a look at some of the tweets below and don’t forget to follow us at @sjmctxst for all the latest mass communication news at Texas State!

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Taking a Tour: BBC in London

Story by SJMC Study Abroad graduate student, AJ Arreguin:

The British Broadcasting Corporation is one of the most recognizable, highly creditable news organizations in the world. From local to worldwide news coverage, the BBC brings the highest quality of news from journalists that reach outlets such as radio, television and social media. Unlike some news companies around the world that are owned by the government, BBC operates by an annual licensing fee, which citizens of England pay in order to run radio, television broadcasts and premiere shows such as Doctor Who, The Office (English version) and many more. corporation

Courtyard at the BBC

Courtyard at the BBC

The BBC headquarters is located in London (between Portland Place and Langham Place) and contains the BBC Broadcasting House with television studios, radio studios, the main newsroom (where some of the BBC program is recorded), and a small theatre boasting concerts held by A-list musicians.

Our Tour
After getting through security and getting our backpacks and purses scanned and checked, we waited in a lobby that showcased TARDIS, the Doctor Who famous telephone booth, in front of a small gift shop overlooking the BBC Newsroom. Our tour guide first provided us a brief overview of the history of the BBC and its mission statement toward the people of Britain and viewers from around the world. During this brief lecture, we stood in front of a wall made of glass that overlooked the hundreds of employees and desk of the BBC Newsroom. As the tour went on, the guide paused and mentioned that a live weather report was happening. Sure enough, we saw the weatherman a few feet away and on the tube. Finally, we traveled from the newsroom to the studio station, which was in another building that had radio and television sets. Along the way, we passed through historical pieces from the longevity of the BBC, from the microphone used by Edward R. Murrow in World War II broadcastings, to all the memorabilia from celebrities. Walking through the Broadcasting House was a mass communication history lesson in itself.

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After viewing the theatre, radio and television studio, it was time for us to have a bit of fun. The tour allows participants to take part in a newscast and small, scripted play. After it was all said and done, the BBC tour was a must-do if you catch yourself in London. It does not matter if you’re a journalist major, advertising major or public relations major, there is something to learn and grasp from the BBC.

Studio One Panoramic

Studio One Panoramic

For more information on how to book your tour in advance for the BBC Broadcasting House, please visit their website at

Digital Speaker Series features SJMC graduate and NY Times staffer Maira Garcia

by Becky Larson:


Maira Garcia at TX State’s Digital Speaker Series

Maira Garcia is a senior staff editor at the New York Times. She works to organize, strategize and push content for the paper’s homepage,

Interviewed by digital media graduate student Jordon Brown and speaking to what felt like a hometown crowd, Garcia, who is a Texas State graduate, returned to the university this past week as the most recent speaker in the SJMC’s Digital Entrepreneurship Series.

“I learned a lot at TX State…”

Garcia earned both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree with Texas State and was one of the first to matriculate under the graduate program’s Digital Media concentration.

It was this skills-focused digital concentration that she told the audience was one of the most important aspects of her time at Texas State.

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Google Glass comes to Texas State!

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The much touted Google Glass has arrived at Texas State! The School of Journalism and Mass Communications acquired a pair earlier last month and since then, faculty have been learning to use it themselves and introducing it to their various classes.

“I showed the Glass in my undergrad Web Design & Publishing class and my graduate level Advanced Online Media Design class. The students were excited about it!” said Dr Jacie Yang.  Senior Lecturer Jon Zmikly, who teaches the undergraduate Fundamentals of Digital Online Media course had a similar experience. “When I brought Google Glass to class, I got lots of oohs and ahhs” he said. “It was a great ending to my presentation on Google’s innovation, so I think the students were surprised to see it in person.”

As amazing and cool as the tool is, the lecturers and professors did feel there are still some drawbacks to it. “I’m an Apple fanboy, so I’m naturally not the biggest fan of Google technology,” said Dale Blasingame, another lecturer who has had the opportunity to try out the new wearable device. “Glass is not incredibly user friendly. The swiping isn’t intuitive, and it’s somewhat difficult just to get back to something.  But it’s just a prototype, so I’m sure there will be improvements.” Dr Yang also reckons that some improvements could be made. “I think it’s definitely a very interesting new tool but it probably needs more work on the UI (user interface). My eyes also get really tired quickly because the projected screen is on the upper-right corner.”

The ones who are probably the most excited about this new acquisition is the group of four graduate students who have been competitively selected to cover the highly anticipated SXSW Interactive festival this year. Priscillia Seelan, Melody Mendoza, Jacob Ehrnstein and Jordon Hattery will be covering the festival via the SXTXSTATE website. The project is now in its seventh year. “We’d like to use it to get interviews, some first-person perspectives through the Trade Show,” said Zmikly, who is also one of the lecturers assisting with the project. “I’m sure it will also be helpful for getting directions to various hot spots around Austin.”

This new acquisition is just another example of the SJMC’s effort in ensuring that that which is being taught in the classrooms is up to date relevant with the advances being made outside of it. “I think it’s so great that we can introduce the latest technology to our students,” said Blasigame. “Journalists, in particular, can hopefully see the uses for Glass. Any student interested in international journalism, for instance, should be salivating to get their hands on Glass. I just hope to continue to open their eyes to the advantages of news tech opportunities.”