The Nevada Journalist, December 2008
Dear alumni and friends of the Reynolds School,
Today is a new day at the Reynolds School of Journalism.
You’ve accessed our redesigned website and the newly launched “Nevada Journalist,” in which you’ll find breaking news —including the announcement of a $2 million endowed chair in business journalism from the Reynolds Foundation—and updates about curriculum innovation, remarkable students, and faculty achievement.
On a personal note, my 11 months as dean have been the most exhilarating of my career. I’ve never seen such love and respect for a school from its alumni. If you think this was an excellent school while you were here, just wait. We are elevating the instruction, research and conversation about journalism. I welcome your feedback about how we’re doing.
Please visit the website regularly. Add us to your mobile browser and mark it as a favorite. There’s always something happening at the school and we invite you to be part of it. Please don’t hesitate to e-mail (email@example.com) or call me (775-784-6536) and share your thoughts about this very special school.
Reynolds School of Journalism
Reynolds Foundation endows business-journalism chair
We had proposed a chair that specializes in teaching about the green economy, a logical subject for Nevada and the rest of the West. Business news is one of the staples of Internet journalism, too. With the chair, we'll continue our innovative research about the environment, journalism and the web.
Endowed chairs are among the most valuable gifts for a university; they supplement faculty salaries and also often provide money for travel and graduate assistants. The Reynolds Foundation now has endowed four chairs, for technology, ethics and critical thinking and a chair with unrestricted funds for the dean. The Leonard family has endowed the school’s fifth chair, which will provide money for teaching ethics and writing.
Journalism ethics pays dividendsLast spring, the Journalism Student Advisory Board encouraged every graduating senior to pledge the practice of ethical behavior throughout their careers. Their decision attracted national attention.
If our research is correct, we’re the only journalism school with such a pledge. We’d love to take credit for that, of course, but our students took the initiative and made a bold statement about the importance of ethical journalism. Among others, Jim Romenesko, whose column is the town hall of journalism, posted a story about the pledge.
One of the authors of the pledge, Cortney Maddock, said she’ll be happy if it deters “just one person before falsifying a contact or plagiarizing or lying or not contributing to the common good.”
This year’s student board is working on an ethics pledge that students would sign when they become journalism majors. Both student-inspired ideas remind us that our emphasis on ethics is working.
Students have signed the existing ethics pledge at the May and December graduation receptions. Eventually, we’ll frame and display the signatures.
Only about half of accredited journalism schools require an ethics course before graduation. We do.
We expect to gain even more of a national reputation for teaching and researching ethical behavior in the media once the two endowed chairs in ethics are filled.
Students gain multidisciplinary experience-- Last fall Reynolds School students representing print, advertising and public relations sequences attended the Associated Press Managing Editors convention in Las Vegas, where they produced a daily newspaper and delivered an online broadcast of convention highlights and upcoming events. Even better than the real-time deadline experience, the students got to meet many of the country’s top newspaper editors. Donica Mensing, associate professor, and Paul Mitchell, coordinator of recruitment and retention, accompanied the students. Travel support was provided by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.
-- While Sen. Barack Obama was on the campaign trail, he visited the University campus three times and our broadcast students covered every angle of the story during his second visit thanks to adjunct faculty member and KRNV News 4 reporter Victoria Campbell.
-- Coverage continued on election night as 40 students set up a base camp in an RSJ computer lab, reporting election results and pursuing student-oriented stories during that historic evening. Students filed stories for the Internet (the closest we could get to “print”), radio and television. We also hosted a podcast featuring politically active students. Check out the students’ work on the website.
Our students raved about the experience. “I really enjoyed the intensity of this event,” one wrote. “It felt truly fragile and we were in control of it. We were making this content and we were truly making a difference…. To see all of the things I’ve learned right in front of me really inspires me. I think a lot of students built confidence as a result of this.”
We want to build more real-life experiences into the curriculum. Let us know if you have ideas.
Recruiting the next generation of journalism students
A national survey has confirmed what we already knew: High school students who study journalism get better grades, earn higher ACT scores, and get better grades as college freshman.
We established the Reynolds High School Press Association, the first statewide scholastic press group to promote professional development, networking and resource-sharing among teachers. We use the opportunity to introduce more high school students to our school, too.
The emerging network of advisers identified five high school students to join us for the election-night reporting, and we’ll do more to attract students and advisers to campus, including Journalism Day on Jan. 23.
New Dean’s Council convenes
Alumni have been looking for opportunities to engage, and the new Dean’s Council has brought together prominent news, advertising and public-relations professionals to advise, promote and fund projects proposed by the dean. Thanks to the group, you’ll eventually see a banner hanging in the atrium proclaiming the words of the First Amendment and an artistic treatment of the student ethics codes for the lobby. Robin Joyce (bachelor’s 1983, master’s 2004), president of Joyce & Associates in Las Vegas, serves as chair. Please e-mail if you’d like more information about Dean’s Council.
Young alums are equally engaged
December graduates are among the first members of our new Young Alumni Club, which was formed because so many recent graduates are enthusiastic about their school experience but often aren’t asked to participate. The club will soon host a mixer and offer guidance on career advancement. Kristin Burgarello, our director of development, has details. She’s at Kburgarello@unr.edu.
We’re reserving space to share the highlights of student and faculty honors and recognition. Here’s only a sample:
--In the annual American Advertising Federation competition for hundreds of schools, our students won the regional competition with their plans for an America Online campaign. We placed sixth nationally.
--For the first time in our memory (because we had entered the competition only sporadically), one of our students placed in the top 10 nationally in the William Randolph Hearst Foundation writing contest, often called “the Pulitzers of college journalism.” Senior Jenny Luna captured ninth place for her feature story “Hope Flies,” published in the Reno News and Review.
-- The Associated Collegiate Press judged The Nevada Sagebrush one of the best college newspapers in the country. The Sagebrush's 2007-2008 Pacemaker Award recognizes general excellence and outstanding achievement among non-daily college newspapers from across the country. Only about 10 newspapers win the annual award. The Sagebrush is independent but Editor Nick Coltrain is a journalism major. Many of his staff members are, too.
National Center for Courts and Media tackles technology
Breathtaking technological changes are rippling through society, media and the nation’s judicial system. A Reynolds National Center for Courts and Media conference examined the issue Nov. 17 -18, featuring an interactive “virtual courtroom.” The conference raised questions about whether the traditional tools judges have used to keep the balance between First and Sixth Amendment rights remain valid in this age of the Internet.
Gary Hengstler, center director, tackled the same topic for Duke University Law School’s “Law and Contemporary Problems,” published this month and entitled “Sheppard v Maxwell Revisited – Do the traditional rules work for non-traditional media?”
The center became part of the journalism school this year.
School receives reaccreditation ‘stamp of approval’
Sure, it’s a lot like housekeeping…it must be done regularly and it is more onerous than fun but the results are worth it. Four experienced journalism educators visited last February and measured school performance against the nine standards of the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications.
They recommended reaccreditation, and the full accrediting council unanimously agreed. This sort of “Good Housekeeping seal” is tremendously important for parents, employers and for the University.
The visiting team said, “The school has followed its aspirations to grow its faculty and enrollment, to make digital technology and multimedia journalism more central to the curriculum, to promote innovation, and to continue trying to integrate more scholarship and creative work into a program that traditionally has been professional in orientation.”
We’re the only accredited journalism school in Nevada and one of only 112 in the country.
School enrollment outpaces University
Undergraduate enrollment increased almost 5 per cent in a year, while the University grew by about 1.6 per cent.
School among 10 university sites to host Murrow journalists
International journalists bring a fresh perspective about democracy and the First Amendment to our students and faculty, and it is a real honor that the U.S. State Department’s Edward R. Murrow Journalism Fellows program brought 21 English-speaking journalists from Africa to the school for a half-day. The journalists were interested in subjects such as environmental journalism, ethics and the historic presidential campaign. They attended a photojournalism class and engaged students in discussion throughout the school and across the quad.
One way to determine the future of newspapers is to gaze into a crystal ball. Another (and infinitely more credible) is to ask Alan Mutter, who writes the Newsosaur blog and is an expert in newspaper financing. Mutter spoke to students Dec. 3. He concluded that the industry will move from being heavily invested in infrastructure to creating, monitoring and publishing that will be done on the fly. User-generated content—which we’re experiencing already—will allow consumers to choose what they see, when they see it, and how they access it. We agree, and we’re promoting innovation with new curriculum changes.
Innovative Graduate Program Enters Third Year
Launched in fall 2006, the Interactive Environmental Journalism master’s program has graduated 18 master’s students, and the third cohort began this fall with eight students from China, Cameroon, Massachusetts, Colorado, California and Nevada.
The students have written in-depth environmental journalism stories under the tutelage of Chris Bowman, environment and energy reporter for the Sacramento Bee, and studied theories of journalism and public engagement with scholar David Ryfe.
Graduate student Gideon For-mukwai said that he “found this program to be exceptionally insightful and useful and there is no doubt in my mind that it will shape me as a person and as a professional in the months and years ahead.”
Next spring students will study social media with Reynolds Ethics chair Michael Edward Lenert and game theory with Reynolds Media Technology chair Larry Dailey.
Designed for working journalists, the program may be completed in just three semesters, with a summer internship between the second and third semesters.
Donica Mensing, associate professor, has more information or see our graduate Web page. http://journalism.unr.edu/graduateprogram/
Our redesigned Web site launched Dec. 12. The URL is the same: http://journalism.unr.edu. Faculty and students have put a lot of work into the project, and it shows. Let us know what you think.
Make plans to visit March 2-6 for Journalism Week. Clark Hoyt, public editor of the New York Times, is among the confirmed speakers.
Students are generous with praise
Our greatest satisfaction is getting feedback from students. We wanted to share two fun communications with you.
The first is from graduate Amanda Kunzi, who wrote Bob Felten to say:
“I just submitted my second legal memo to my legal writing professor and felt compelled to send you an email. I remember often feeling frustrated at the often minute changes you suggested to my class writing samples. Now looking back, I am so grateful to you for your pickiness and high expectations for your students. On my first law school memo I was one of only a handful of students to receive an A, and this is from a class of intelligent, competitive, and certainly capable scholars. I watched classmates struggle to find the right words or organizational structure while simultaneously feeling these areas flowed naturally for me. People always speak of the importance of strong writing skills and I now know what they mean. I truly feel the skills you forced me to learn have not only improved my writing, but also strengthened many of the other skills I have had to use this semester. So thank you! I hope you know the skills you teach to stubborn undergrads somehow sink into our brains. I’m sure I’m not alone in being thankful you made them stick.”
Finally, Alex Cirac, who graduated Dec. 6 with honors, writes movingly of her college life in a feature on the University’s homepage.