Summer 2015 RSS feed for this section

Applying a Social Network Perspective to Public Relations Pedagogy: Examining the Relationships that Will Build the Profession

Adam Saffer

Abstract: Relationships are fundamental to public relations (Broom, Casey, & Ritchey, 1997). Education scholars have found relationships are fundamental to learning (Barkely, 2010). This essay introduces the social network perspective (SNP) as a lens for public relations pedagogy. Network theories and concepts—structural holes, strength of weak ties, centrality, and social capital—are applied to students’ and educators’ roles in a learning network. Propositions are posed for researchers to consider in future studies of public relations pedagogy. This essay demonstrates how SNP can enhance teaching and long-term relationships with students and practitioners as they build the public relations profession.

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Big Tweets on Campus: College Newspapers’ Use of Twitter

Kris Boyle and Carol Zuegner

Abstract: The authors examined Twitter use among campus newspapers, analyzing a sample of Twitter pages from 25 award-winning campus publications and coding for the frequency, content, and interactivity of the tweets. This study revealed these newspapers were tweeting most often during daytime hours and most tweets were about campus-based news. Unlike mainstream newspapers, the publication frequency of these college newspapers and the number of users following their Twitter pages were tied to the newspapers’ tweet frequency. The authors concluded that like their professional counterparts, college newspapers could find ways to more effectively use Twitter. Journalists now and in the future will have to engage their audience in what Robinson (2013) described as a process that involves social media and conversation. Whether in the classroom or on a college newspaper staff, students need to be aware of that conversation and be a part of it.

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Developing and Assessing Experiential Learning Opportunities

Cindy Royal

Abstract: Classroom experiential learning projects can extend the benefits of student media to more participants. Social media tools offer efficient and cost-effective ways to engage students that allow them to publish their work, promote events, and enhance their professional networks. A case study of one such project is performed to provide a framework for assessing the ability to create engaging and productive experiences within journalism curricula.

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Mobile Journalism 101: Teaching Students to Use Mobile Devices to Produce News Content

Dianne M. Garyantes and Mark Berkey-Gerard

Abstract: The findings from this study underscore the need for journalism educators to train students on the use of mobile devices to produce news content. A survey of journalism students found that they regularly use mobile devices for personal use, but not necessarily for reporting assignments. After being taught by faculty how to use mobile devices for content production, however, most students were adopting mobile technologies to cover news, including recording audio for interviews and shooting photos and video. The advantages of using mobile technology, according to the students, were convenience and accessibility, ease of use, speed, and familiarity. The main disadvantages included specific technical problems and perceived low quality of the media produced. The study highlights the need for educators to encourage and train journalism students on the use of mobile devices to produce news content to best prepare them for a more technologically sophisticated news environment.

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More than Writing and Reporting: Examining the Overall Media Literacy of Today’s Journalism Students

Hans C. Schmidt

Abstract: The highly visible decline of print-based journalism in recent years is increasingly being matched by the dramatic growth of digital news operations and the establishment of new Web-based journalism enterprises. Aided by social media and mobile technologies, these developments are making news content omnipresent in the modern world. Yet, while this shift from traditional models of reporting and storytelling to new digital platforms is helping to keep journalism relevant in the 21st century, it has also created a new set of challenges for today’s journalists, who are increasingly expected to possess a diverse mix of skills ranging from writing and reporting to multimedia production. Many journalism education programs have adapted to the changing field by introducing coursework associated with a variety of media literacy competencies. However such training is not universal. To investigate the extent to which journalism students are developing the overall media literacy competencies that are increasingly important, this study involved a survey of journalism students (N = 312) and an analysis of multimedia content on student newspaper Web sites (N = 128). Data indicate that many journalism students are developing only limited media literacy competencies, and that additional training, especially related to the creation of digital media, could be beneficial.

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Pedagogical Approaches to Student-Run PR Firms Using Service Learning: A Case Study

Carolyn Kim

Abstract: One way experiential learning can be experienced in a public relations program is through the launching of a public relations student-run agency. This study focuses on a strong example of a student-run PR agency that was launched in a small program on a private university campus. Findings from this case study suggest that student-run agencies can effectively be launched, even with limited resources, to strategically meet program-learning outcomes. Additionally, benefits of student-run agencies include increased prominence of the program within the community, which can provide more internship and networking opportunities for students, as well as stronger pre-professional preparation for students who participate in student-run agencies.

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An Intro Class Launches an Impromptu ‘Pause’ Campaign, Learns Social Media Evaluation and Campaign Process

Sarah Maben

Abstract: Students in an Introduction to Mass Communication course decided they wanted to help their campus reflect on its dependence on social media and mobile devices after reading Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death. The class of 40 created a campaign asking campus members to pause, or take time away from their devices and social media, for a study break. The impromptu exercise required students to call on the concepts from the intro class and act upon them in the real world. The article outlines the project and its assessment, the campaign’s results, and potential lessons that could be incorporated in similar exercises.

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Community Engaged Learning in Journalism and Multimedia Courses

Kathleen Webber and Kim Pearson

Abstract: Instructors in journalism programs in this period of evolution are searching for ways to strengthen and apply students’ skills in multimedia writing and content production. They are also looking for opportunities to engage students in problem-solving in their local communities, using what they have learned in the classroom. A municipal election posed a chance to create a voter education website that would benefit various stakeholders in the nearby urban community. Working with a community group, instructors and students set goals for a multimedia website to inform and entice voters to participate in the 2014 Trenton mayoral election. The two-semester, year-long project included the work of 120 students at different skill levels and no previous in-depth knowledge of the city’s history, current challenges, or of municipal elections. The course taught students to consider the history of the city, learn about the issues it faced, and to explore the role of media in stimulating community involvement. They developed critical thinking skills, learned about user-centered design principles, collaborated with students of different majors to tell digital stories, and decided how to best inform voters through the content they produced for this WordPress site. At the end of the course, students reported higher levels of interest in their community and in real-world projects with deadlines as well as projects that would have a life after the semester’s end.

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Building an International Journalism Course on Student-Centered Experiences

Butler Cain Abstract: Foreign news reporting by U.S. news media has declined during the past few decades, and news organizations have been downsizing their staffs and closing foreign bureaus. Despite these trends, U.S. journalists who report from foreign countries give Americans the context necessary to better understand international events. These journalists must be familiar with the […]

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Social Media Internships: A Case Study of a Student-run Social Media Institute

Sarah Maben and Jennifer Edwards

Abstract: A one-of-a-kind social media institute is powered by student-interns, giving them valuable social media internship experiences. This case study explains the structure of the social media internships and the social media institute, with recommendations and assessment strategies. Faculty and staff from various disciplines mentor student interns, both undergraduate and graduate, in order to provide social media training to the university and community, research on social media, an annual academic conference and peer-reviewed journal.

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