Remembering The Impact, Influence of a Media Management Giant– Mary Alice Shaver

Time to remember one of the giants in advertising and the field of media management and economics, Mary Alice Shaver, who passed away, this week.

Just learned that one of the giants in the field of media management and economics– Dr. Mary Alice Shaver– passed away this week.

Even though I won’t be able to attend her memorial service tomorrow in Fearrington Village, North Carolina, I can use the same mass communication that Mary Alice researched and taught thousands of students to use to celebrate her life and the impact that she had on up-and-coming media management scholars like me.

“Media Management and Economics, as well as the academy at large, has lost a star,”  said Ken Killibrew, the current head of the Media Management and Economics Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

I remember first talking to Mary Alice when she was on the faculty at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and I was considering doctoral programs in mass communication.

While I didn’t end up at Chapel Hill, I certainly ran into Mary Alice again and again as I presented research projects in media management at regional and national conferences.

I vividly remember sitting in on a panel one year at the AEJMC Southeast Colloquium (in Chapel Hill, NC) where Mary Alice talked about what one needed to do to get published in academic journals.

In his statement this evening, Killibrew remembered Mary Alice as “a tough scholar with extraordinary standards who challenged each of us to do our best.”

I would definitely agree.

I will always treasure this photo where Mary Alice Shaver presented me an award for “Third Place Student Paper” in the Media Management and Economics Division at the AEJMC National Conference in 2000 in Phoenix, Arizona.

When news of Mary Alice’s passing came tonight, I immediately thought back to one of those cheesy grip-and-grin photos that we’re never supposed to take in journalism.  (The ones we tell our students to avoid)

I was in one of those grip-and-grin photos in August 2000 as Mary Alice presented me a research award for a paper written from data collected for my master’s thesis at The University of Georgia.

Despite the cliche nature of the photograph,  it now has special meaning as it’s a way for me to visually reflect the link I had as a graduate student to one who had such an influence on our field.

When I see “Mary Alice Shaver” in an academic journal or book, I know she was not just another author or researcher.   She’s a standout who had an influence on the field that I have come to love.

She’s one of the giants in the field who actually knew me by name.     As I continue to make contributions to media management,  I do so with a mandate to be excellent and to follow the example that Mary Alice Shaver set for so many of us.

New Ole Miss Homecoming Queen The Real Historymaker This Weekend

Ole Miss Homecoming Queen Courtney Pearson makes history on a history-making day for the Rebels. UGA grad and WMC-TV anchor Kym Clark, who was University of Georgia’s first African homecoming queen reported on Pearson’s election.

The real history-making moment Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium was not when the Ole Miss Rebels snapped their 16-game SEC losing streak by beating the Auburn Tigers 41-20.

Courtney Pearson (Courtesy: WJTV)

As much as some are celebrating this major event some two years in the making,  those of us who advocate for diversity and study the evolution of the Deep South in the issues of racial reconciliation and inclusion ought be celebrating a young lady by the name of Courtney Pearson.

It took much longer than two years (the last time Ole Miss won an SEC game) for an African American to be crowned as the homecoming queen at the University of Mississippi.

Kym Clark

I’m thankful to fellow University of Georgia graduate and broadcast journalist Kym Clark for first reporting on Pearson’s selection late last week in advance of Saturday’s ceremony during the Auburn-Ole Miss game.

Clark, who anchors the morning news at WMC-TV, was a historymaker herself in the Georgia Bulldog nation.

In her report Friday, Clark  included a photo of her own experience  when she was crowned Miss University of Georgia in 1983, the first African American to do so.

It’s been roughly 50 years ago since The University of Alabama, University of Georgia and University of Mississippi first opened their doors to African Americans to study.

Students at all three schools have elected African Americans to lead student government at least once.   But, leading the homecoming court, a largely ceremonial role, is another thing.

“I’m not white, I’m not six feet, I’m not blonde, I’m not Greek,” Pearson told the (Memphis) Commercial Appeal in an interview last week.

The University of Mississippi  even called attention to the significance of Pearson’s selection in a news release.

As I show my University of Alabama mass communication tudents the power they have to advance the conversation about diversity,  I point to Ole Miss, which was featured earlier this year in the PBS program Not in Our Town: Working Together for Safe, Inclusive Communities.

When I showed my summer class the story of One Mississippi, a recent multi-racial effort toward creating an environment of inclusion at Ole Miss,  the segment sparked an extended conversation among the University of Alabama students, many of whom are unaware of the power they have to create change.

The segment was among those most remembered when students were asked about memorable segments at the end of the course.

Saturday’s crowning of Courtney Pearson as Miss University of Mississippi is yet another example of how far we’ve come as a nation.

In Oxford, Miss, Pearson’s parents were also Ole Miss graduates.  And, this year’s Associated Student Body President, Kimbrely Dandridge, is the first African American woman to hold that office.

“I hope that our elections will send a message to the public that Ole Miss is moving forward. That this institution is not the same institution that it was 50 years ago,” Dandridge said.

The Rebels should be proud of not just their football team that’s on the rise, but of their trailblazing work of Miss Courtney Pearson.

CNN’s Election Coverage Ramps Up With Joe Johns’ “Voters in America” Documentary

CNN’s Joe Johns hit a home run with his “Voters in America: Who Counts” documentary that premiered October 14, 2012. It shined a light on the controversial voter ID laws that have been passed by more than half-dozen states in the past few years.

All of the cable and broadcast networks are covering the U.S. Presidential debates.   CNN is proudly promoting Candy Crowley’s hosting the next debate this Tuesday.

But, how many news organizations are devoting an hour to understanding the issues and the individuals behind the recent string of voter ID laws?

CNN senior correspondent Joe Johns’ “Voters in America: Who Counts” documentary turned the spotlight on the battleground state of Florida and showed us the story of  Florida State Representative Dennis Baxley and Civil Rights Pioneer LaVon Wright Bracy.

Joe Johns

Johns ‘ Best Work

I’ve been a fan of Joe Johns ever since I was a journalism student at Howard University in the late 80s/early 90s and watched his reporting on WRC-TV in Washington, DC.  He was a good reporter then.

But, I believe the “Voters in America” documentary that premiered tonight was one of his best projects ever.

It certainly stands to make an impact greater than the  daily, “breaking news” broadcast journalism that he produces.

As a news producer, I know Johns  had an army of producers in CNN’s documentary unit working with him.   But,  he was more than a black face on an issue that is so racially-charged.

Johns’ background covering criminal justice and his understanding of the issues came across in the way he queried both Baxley and Bracy about their positions on these new laws.

The Voter ID Laws

I come from the state of Virginia and work in the state of Alabama, both of which have enacted tough voter ID laws.   As a life member of the NAACP, I have questioned the real need for such laws, especially in light of our nation’s history of poll taxes and literacy tests for African Americans.

Dennis Baxley

CNN presented the various sides of this issue without making Baxley, the chief sponsor of Florida’s 2011 law,  out to be the “bad guy.”   Instead, Baxley was presented a Christian family man, who legitimately believes he’s doing the right thing.

Viewers got to see Baxley in his day job as a funeral director in Ocala, Fla. and a new grandfather and not just as a politician with ulterior motives, which is often the case in our news reporting of proponents of voter ID laws.

He and I can worship the same God, but walk out our faith differently when it comes to public policy.

Lavon Bracy

At the same time, “Voters in America” brought national exposure to Dr. Bracy, a preacher’s wife, who was the  first African American to integrate the public schools of the Alachua County school system.

After being as effective as she has been registering thousands of voters over the last few years,  Dr. Bracy should be recognized by Florida’s legislature for her role as a citizen in the Sunshine State.

Working (Univ. of Alabama)  and going to school (Univ. of Georgia)  in the Southeastern Conference (SEC),  I’ve traveled to Gainesville, Fla. (The Alachua County seat and home of the University of Florida Gators) many times.  I never knew about Dr. LaVon Bracy until tonight’s CNN documentary.

“Voters in America” gave ample attention to the role of the black church in mobilizing citizens to exercise their right to vote, a right for which so many gave their very lives.

Thanks CNN for shining the light on this important issue.   I hope to show this “Voters in America” project to many of my students at the University of Alabama as we understand  the important role that broadcast journalists like Joe Johns and his team of producers play in uncovering the REAL STORY behind many of the issues in this important 2012 election.

NOSC 2012: Kevin and Kevin- MUST SEE Presentation

When Kevin Foster and Kevin Kecskes took the podium this morning to kick off the final day of the 13th National Outreach Scholarship Conference, I was full of anticipation.

Kevin Kecskes from Portland State addressed the National Outreach Scholarship Conference today.

This was the keynote event especially for faculty.

Even though Kecskes started off a little slow with a lot of apologies about how difficult it is to give a keynote to a crowd at the early 8 a.m. hour,  he and his first namesake, Kevin Foster delivered BIG!

Multi-speaker keynotes or panels can sometimes be very dry and quite frankly, boring.   There’s one PowerPoint after another PowerPoint and if there’s not a real compelling moderator to tie together, the conference session falls FLAT.

From review of the models of community engagement to the continuum of change, Kecskes and Foster opened up a discussion that we hope to continue this afternoon.   They inspired me to think again about what I do as both a community engaged scholar and as a faculty member in journalism.

I left this morning’s session with an expanded vocabulary to apply to what I do with new words such as contextual intervention and structural transformation.

“This work is political,” said Kesckes, who serves as associate provost for engagement and director of community-university partnerships at Portland State University. “Change is political.”

While Kesckes made some great points, I believe I connected with Foster even more, in part because he was very transparent about his journey as a scholar from historically underrepresented population.

Kevin Foster from University of Texas at Austin presented at today’s National Outreach Scholarship Conference.

“I’ve had to figure out how to make it in the academy, ” Foster admitted as he shared his experience knowing that he had to be better than all of his colleagues (presumably because of his engagement scholarship approach)

Because community-engaged scholarship is so new to the academy, it does require a sales job.

One of the selling points that was raised at today’s kick-off is the fact that community-engaged scholarship is not easier, but harder to produce than more traditional scholarship or research.   It requires the extra effort be made to include the community in all phases of the scholarly process.

13th Outreach Conference Wraps Up Today After Week of Memorable Events

The 13th National Outreach Scholarship Conference (NOSC) wraps up Wednesday at the University of Alabama, but not after some memorable events.

As one of those who has worked on the team planning the 13th National Outreach Scholarship Conference, I can hardly believe that it is almost over.

But, I’m excited about what I have seen over the last two days as the University of Alabama was front-and-center for a national discussion of the REAL ROLE of any college or University:  How Well it Serves its community.

UA Women’s Basketball Coach Wendell Hudson spoke to attendees Tuesday night at the National Outreach Scholarship Conference. Hudson was the first African American scholar athlete to be admitted to the University.

Some 500 attendees have been here to Tuscaloosa to engage on how we should PARTNER, INSPIRE and CHANGE our communities and the energy with which we will leave this afternoon is like no other.

Even as I prepare for Day 3, I have to brag on my students– young and old who have been prominently displayed at this year’s conference


I was pleased to see Third graders Sean Smith and Joshua Patton talk about the 15-month partnership between the University and Tuscaloosa’s Oakdale Elementary School.

Each Tuesday, I work with 45 3rd, 4th and 5th graders in producing The Oakdale Eagle.

On Tuesday, Smith and Patton, who started with me as rising second graders, made their PowerPoint Presentations to a nice crowd at a national conference.

Their teacher, Latrina Spencer, who initiated the partnership, also answered questions about the role of journalism at the elementary school level.

The whole world was seeing what I get to see now each Tuesday when I worked with these students– how GREAT THEY ARE now as journalists!


I still remember when Andrea Mabry was in my introductory journalism class.

Today she is a graduate student here at the University, but not after serving as a photojournalist for countless events here on campus and around Tuscaloosa.

She still does photography projects on the side, but recently she has started a Farmers Market.

Tuesday she and two other students told the story of the Farmers Market.

And, I got a chance to photograph the photojournalist.

There is so much more to write about NOSC 2012.    But, I’ll have to do it later.

An action-packed Day 3 is about to kick off in one hour.

Former UA Dean Cully Clark Shares Foster Auditorium Story with NOSC 2012 Attendees

Cully Clark, a former dean of the University of Alabama College of Communication and Information Sciences, returned to Tuscaloosa Tuesday night to share the story of the school’s integration with attendees at the 13th National Outreach Scholarship Conference. Clark was introduced by his successor, current dean Loy Singleton.

E. Culpepper Clark, author of The Schoolhouse Door and a former dean of the UA College of Communication and Information Sciences, told the story of the integration of the University of Alabama in June 1963.

While I’ve been on the faculty of The University of Alabama for ten years, until tonight I had not been inside one of the most talked-about places on our campus– Foster Auditorium.

Thanks to a special event at the 13th Annual National Outreach Scholarship Conference (NOSC) featuring E. Culpepper Clark (affectionately known as “Cully”),  I have walked THROUGH THE SCHOOLHOUSE Door.

Foster Auditorium is now the home of the UA Women’s Basketball and Volleyball teams.   But, in June of 1963, it was the place where students registered for classes and the site of the late Alabama Governor George Wallace’s infamous “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door.”

Clark, a former dean of UA’s College of Communication and Information Sciences spoke to a crowd of about 100 who journeyed to the Malone-Hood Plaza tonight as part of NOSC 2012.

It’s been nearly two years since the area near the auditorium was officially named to honor of the late Vivian Malone Jones   and Dr. James Hood and Autherine Lucy Foster.   Both Hood and Foster spoke at the 2010 events.

In true storyteller format, Clark like an old grandfather told us what happened nearly 50 years ago here on our campus and why it was important.  In 20 minutes, he seamlessly weaved together an account of so many civil rights flashpoints in the 50s and 60s and explained their significance while keeping the focus on Foster Auditorium.

If you’ve read his authoritative account of the integration of the University of Alabama, Stand in the Schoolhouse Door, you know the great deal of research that he did on this period.

But, it’s different when you’re visitor to the campus for the first time, as many of the conference attendees were.

For those who had only seen Foster Auditorium through viewing the movie Forrest Gump,  Cully Clark’s presentation Tuesday night pulled all of the pieces together.

Next year –2013– will be the 50th anniversary of the one of the most important years in our nation’s history.

“No year was so pivotal to the civil rights movement than 1963,” Clark said.

He explained why it is important to commemorate those events and the one here on our campus.

According to Clark, who now serves as dean of my alma mater, the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, the integration of the University of Alabama “began the transformation of this university.”

An added special treat for those of us in the College of Communication and Information Sciences,  Clark was introduced by current dean Loy Singleton and Clark’s predecessor Edward Mullins was also in attendance.