High Expectations For Second AEJMC Trip to California’s Bay Area

The countdown is on for the annual meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), which begins this week in San Francisco.

For those of us who teach journalism at the college level, THIS is the big conference of the year as AEJMC is a “one-stop” shopping place for updates on the cutting-edge scholarship in the field, teaching techniques that we can use to “freshen up” our courses that start in a couple of weeks and a place to learn trends that are influencing what we do as academic leaders in this arena of journalism education.

It will be my second trip to the so-called “Bay Area.”  My last trip was for this same conference in 2006.   My last trip was only for two days, enough time to present a research paper and make a visit to a local television station.

This time I will have an opportunity to do a couple of off-site visits this week in addition to catching up with my fellow journalism and mass communication educators from around the country.

Five Questions I Hope to Answer This Week

googleplex1.  Is Googleplex really all that’s it’s cracked up to be?
The AEJMC Media Management and Economics (MME) Division is gathering for an daylong visit to Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. this week.  Looking forward to catching up with MME Colleagues and seeing what the Google campus is like.     Google is definitely as important as any traditional media company in mass communication today.

CLS - Portraits
Tim Wu

2.  What is Net Neutrality Theory and Can Tim Wu Predict What’s Going to Happen Next?
The matter of how to regulate the Internet has been a big topic of discussion in communication policy circles.  The man who wrote the book on Net Neutrality Theory is kicking off our conference.  Reading his book, The Master Switch, now and am looking forward to Professor Wu’s keynote address on Thursday night as the conference officially opens.
3.  How much interest is there in media coverage of race in the wake of recent events in South Carolina?

I’ve been tapped to moderate a “Hot Topics” Roundtable on the recent events in Charleston, SC and the debate over the Confederate flag.   We struggled to get this topic on the conference program at the very last minute.  But, I’m interested in seeing just how many AEJMC members show up to engage in dialogue with our dynamic panelists.

4.  Is The Weather Really Cooler in the Bay Area?

I remember last time in San Francisco it didn’t always feel like summer.  The slightly cooler temperatures reminded me more of fall.   Wonder will it be like that this time?

5.  Which is better San Jose or San Francisco?

With a guest appearance on KQED-TV’s Equal Time later this week,  I’ll have to visit San Jose, California for the first time.  The public affairs program is produced out of studios at San Jose State University.  I’m just curious of the three major cities in this area– Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose, which is best place to live?

A Special Time for U. of Alabama

This will be a memorable AEJMC conference for those of us from “The Capstone of Higher Education” as the University of Alabama will receive the 2015 Equity and Diversity Award.     We are so grateful for the recognition of our diversity efforts here at an institution known as the place where a former governor stood in “The Schoolhouse Door.”

Also, my colleague, Margot Lamme has been nominated for a top book award.   We’ll find out if she’s the winner later this week.

Jennifer Greer
Jennifer Greer

Along with receiving these awards,  we’ll see our Former Interim Dean Jennifer Greer ascend to the position of vice president of the organization.    Greer, who was my department chair in journalism for more than five years,  is now the associate provost for administration here at University of Alabama.

And, on Saturday, I will accept the Robert P. Knight Multicultural Award from the AEJMC Scholastic Journalism Division.   Excited to have a chance to talk briefly about some of ways we have worked here to turn pre-college students on to journalism.

Should be an great week all the way around.   I hope to provide a few updates here along the way.


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.

What Will It Take To Bring Paul Isom’s Case at East Carolina U. Back to the Media Spotlight?

Paul Isom made his case to attendees at the AEJMC Southeast Colloquium at Virginia Tech Friday. Now it’s up to AEJMC and SPJ to take another look at the free expression issues in this matter.

It’s been nearly four months since a streaker took the field during halftime at a East Carolina University football game and photos of the incident were published in The East Carolinian, ECU’s student newspaper.

Just a little more than two months ago, Paul Isom, the University’s student media director was removedfrom his position.

In a 25-minute address to attendees at the AEJMC Southeast Colloquium Friday at Virginia Tech, Paul Isom told of his termination as director of student media at East Carolina University.

The decision sparked a flurry of media reports around the country, especially among those of us in journalism circles, who are advocates for student free expression.

Probably not a moment too soon for East Carolina University, the media publicity of this case has subsided to barely a mention.

Continue reading “What Will It Take To Bring Paul Isom’s Case at East Carolina U. Back to the Media Spotlight?”

Virginia Tech’s Larry Hincker Biggest Highlight of AEJMC Southeast Colloquium So Far

BLACKSBURG, Va.–   The first full day of the AEJMC Southeast Colloquium has come to an end and even though I have not been able to cull my photos and edit my video, there is at least time for a moment to reflect on some of things I learned.

First and foremost, Virginia Tech is an awesome campus!   Growing up three hours away from here in Richmond, I had this image of a place I now know as the New River Valley that was a big deserted campus in the middle of nowhere.

One of the first newspaper stories I published while in high school was a Richmond News Leader feature on a girl from my church who came here to Tech and hated it transferring to another college.   I saw this campus through her bad experience.  (The Richmond News Leader is no longer published, but the story in the YOUNG VIRGINIANS section of the paper is memorable.

As a child, I learned Virginia Tech’s real was Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.  I learned why my parents would call it V.P.I.

That was 25 or more years ago.   So much has changed,  not the least of which were the events of April 16, 2007, which is a day most Americans will never forget– the  day Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and wounded 25 others before taking his own life.

Tech’s PR Man Talks

Larry Hincker (Courtesy:Va.Tech)

Tonight, the man at the center of managing the hordes of media who took over this campus spoke about the incident to those of us attending the AEJMC Southeast Colloquium.

He told the story of the “insatiable demand for information that he couldn’t meet” as hundreds of satellite trucks, scores of news crews sought to cover this biggest incidence of violence on a U.S. college campus in the history of nation.

While there have been other campus shootings since the one here in 2007 at Northern Illinois and at University of Alabama at Huntsville,  this one represented a turning point.

This one has made Larry Hincker a much sought-after speaking around the world as a expert on campus notification systems and crisis management in the face of unbelievable tragedy.

This Week’s Court Case

Our AEJMC Southeast Colloquium just so happens to coincide with a wrongful death trial that is underway here in Montgomery County Circuit court.

In the case brought by the families of two students killed five years ago next month,  the plaintiffs  claim university officials delayed warning the campus of the initial two shootings on campus and then attempted to cover up their missteps.

Wisdom From One Who Knows

In his speech tonight, Hincker talked in great detail about what his role was as the chief communicator of information both to the media and those internally about what was going on this campus.

He talked about the use of the World Wide Web as both a “nexus of communication” and “filebox” for statements and communiques released on a constantly changing story.

In this photo taken by Roanoke Times photojournalist Matt Gentry, Hincker was one of several Virginia Tech officials who testified at this week's wrongful death trial in Montgomery County Circuit Court.and a "filebox" for statements and information previously released.

He showed graphics of the spike in traffic on the Virginia Tech Web site on both the day of the April 16, 2007 shootings and more recently on December 8, 2011 when an officer was shot and killed here on this campus.

Other key points from Hincker’s remarks tonight:

  • Universities ought to provide media training for student leaders
  • No Single Notification System Does It All
  • Don’t Let Your Local Media Play Second Fiddle to the National Media

Celebrating Kent State Journalism Professor’s Legacy, Global Impact

It’s time to celebrate the legacy of Evonne Whitmore, an associate professor of journalism and mass communication at Kent State University, who lost her battle with cancer this morning. The Fulbright Scholar was a broadcast journalist and held several leadership positions in the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC).

When the Kent State University football team takes the field against the Alabama Crimson Tide here in Tuscaloosa next Saturday morning,  I’ll be thinking about one of the Kent State professors who made a real impact on my life.

When it comes to journalism and media, Evonne Whitmore was a winner in every way– a champion who constantly made touchdowns as a broadcast journalist, a media scholar, a program planner, newsletter editor and professional organization leader.

I was saddened, though not surprised,  today to learn that Dr. Whitmore lost her battle with ovarian cancer this morning.

You see “Von,” as she was known to those of us in broadcast journalism education, doesn’t miss an AEJMC annual conference unless something is really wrong.  (AEJMC is the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, a 99-year-old organization that’s the nation’s largest group of educators who teach in areas of journalism and mass media)

Two weeks ago today Von was scheduled to be on a panel with me discussing the status of EEO rules for broadcast television stations.    She, in fact, had invited me to join her in this discussion.

I later learned that she was ill and unable to travel to the AEJMC Convention, which was held earlier this month in St. Louis.

Leading the Way 

Illness is about the only thing that would keep Von away from AEJMC where she was supposed to be finishing her term as head of our Council of Divisions.

In that role, she was very involved in the planning of an association annual gathering that has become more difficult every year as more and more units (divisions and interest groups) have been created.

Those of us in charge of research paper sessions would receive regular communication from Von regarding our role in preparing for research competitions.

Even before ascending to this role, Von had served as newsletter editor for the Commission of the Status of Minorities.  I succeeded her in that position and found the job a whole lot easier because she set a model for what represented excellence in producing a division newsletter.

Setting a Model

As a broadcast journalism educator, Von was on the ball in helping her students learn how to present themselves not only on the air, but online as well.

Her digital portfolio is just one example of the way one brands him or herself in the Web environment.

Because of the care she took in documenting her work and sharing her achievements online, Von even beyond her own lifetime  has a way of teaching us the right way to do things.

Her teaching, in fact, went beyond the borders of the United States.    Amidst so many other things she was doing as a faculty member in the Kent State School of Journalism and Mass Communication, she was named a Fulbright Scholar.

This photo was one featured on Evonne Whitmore's digital portfolio.

A Global Strategy

In 2008, she spent time at Ahram Canadian University in Giza, Egypt, working on research and lecturing on promoting internationally accepted journalistic principles that will increase media credibility in Egypt.

I recall her talking about her travels to Egypt during my first visit to her campus in Kent, OH in 2009.  I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to see when I returned to Kent State earlier this year.

I’m hoping someone in her family when the time is right will take the multimedia assets that I know she gathered in Egypt and the writings that she’ s done and allow some of her students to produce a product that lets her legacy live on for years and years to come.

The Virginia Connection

Though I first met Von as a fellow panelist at the Broadcast Education Association several years ago, she and I never talked much about our mutual connection to my home state of Virginia.

She not only worked at my father’s alma mater, Hampton University, as the general manager of  WHOV-FM, but also across town in Virginia’s largest TV market– Hampton Roads– as a reporter at ABC affiliate WVEC-TV.

She lived her life to the fullest and left a legacy for those of us in journalism education to follow.

Reaction from Scholars Who Knew Her

As news spread about Dr. Whitmore’s passing, the comments came quickly today on the e-mail listserv for the AEJMC Minorities and Communication Division.

“Von Whitmore was a dedicated worker in AEJMC and a dear
friend to many of us, ” said Linda Callahan, who chairs the AEJMC Commission on the Status of Minorities.

Callahan took over as vice chair of the Commission after Whitmore, who was due to become vice chair of the commission, was name vice chair of the AEJMC Council of Divisions in 2007.

Others in both the Commission and the Minorities and Communication Division knew Whitmore for her scholarly contributions.

“Von contributed mightily to the body of research about diversity issues with her 2004 dissertation, said Columbia College Broadcast Journalism Coordinator Lillian Williams in a post today on the listserv. “Von’s research helps us to understand the actions, and reactions, of our schools to the standard, and the impact of that standard. ”

Whitmore’s dissertation was entitled An Historical Perspective On The Accrediting Council On Education in Journalism and Mass Communications from 1986-2003: Examination Of The Impact On Curriculum

A Legacy to be Celebrated And Continued

As the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2012,  I think it would be fitting to offer a special program built around the legacy of Von Whitmore– her international work,  her leadership and her scholarship.

She exemplifies the type of journalist, scholar and person we all should strive to be.

We will miss her.



Five Words for AEJMC In the Coming Year

Some suggestions are made for the organizers of the AEJMC Annual Conferences in the future.

AEJMC Members raise their hands to vote on a proposal introduced at Friday's business meeting in St. Louis

ST LOUIS– We’ve been posting from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Annual Conference (AEJMC), which ended Saturday.

So it’s time to move on from this gathering that’s arguably the biggest of the year for me as a journalism educator.

There are some topics on which I will continue to post even though the conference is over.

But, in this final update, I address some of the AEJMC organization-specific issues that may have not been reported else.  This kind of “inside baseball”  stuff is often left to those in leadership to decide.

Continue reading “Five Words for AEJMC In the Coming Year”

AEJMC’s Very Last Panel Provides Terrific Takeaways

The last panel of the four Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Community gave attendees some definite takeaways to benefit their teach students to write/produce for online platforms.

Panelists listen as Jim Flink of Newsy.com makes a point.

ST LOUIS– While most people were either gone, heading to the airport or getting ready to depart from the 2011 AEJMC Convention, those who hung around until the very end of the convention got some solid ideas to take back to their classrooms.

It was the other book-end to the opening keynote where Rishad Tobaccowala provided insights on technology and communication.

Scheduled for Saturday at 1:30 p.m.,the very last session of the four-day AEJMC Annual Conference was just what I needed.

The Media Management and Economics Division collaborated with the Newspaper Division to sponsor the discussion on “Managing Innovation: Online News Professionals Talk About What’s Ahead.”


Each of the panelists had just 5-7 minutes to share their advice for what they’re looking for or what they want students to know for the future of working on the online platform.

Bob Rose, deputy managing editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch had SEVEN (7) THINGS  to help students land that first job:

  1. Find
  2. Own
  3. Promote
  4. Edit
  5. Inform
  6. Diversify
  7. Entertain

Then, from the TV side, Jim Flink, who previously spent 15 years with Hearst Broadcasting,  most recently at the top-rated ABC affiliate KMBC-TV,  shared his thoughts about the future, based in part on his latest project– Newsy.com

  • What’s next is ALREADY HERE!
  • Morph to Mobile
  • Gatekeeping/Agenda-setting Role for Media is dead
  • News Is Customized and Personalized
  • You have to excel on Multiple Platforms
  • Vertical Integration is Key
  • The Tablet is very personal (on-camera presentation different from TV)
  • We’re in the age of Penny Press in a Pack or Pocket
  • You are You, Inc.

Susan Hegger, politics and issues editor at the St. Louis Beacon had quite a different perspective – choosing to focus students on the basics.

  1. Clear, Elegant Writing is Still Important
  2. Students Need to Know How to Report
  3. Journalists Must be able to tell a story
  4. Journalists Should Know Which Medium Best Tells A Particular Story
  5. A Journalist Should Know SOMETHING– have expertise in an area

As former editor of the Bakersfield Californian, Mike Jenner finds himself telling students about the six things that as an editor he looked for in new hires.  He shared his list of six with those at Saturday’s panel:


Perhaps the youngest of the panelists being just about a year out of her experience at the Missouri School of Journalism, Kelsey Proud urged the faculty types in the audience to encourage their students to fail.

“It’s hard to let students fail,” Proud said.

She had a message for faculty to give to students:

“No matter what type of organization you work for, don’t be scared.”

I walked out of there with some strategies to put in place for my  students at University of Alabama who will be arriving for a new semester in less than two weeks.