Category Archives: Student Media

Student Group To Address Diversity Issues In Journalism School Organizations

Real Talk

by Meghan Caprez

The Student Voice Team will work with student media and organizations in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication (JMC) to identify and solve diversity issues in its “Real Talk: Uncut & Uncensored” event Monday, February 9, at 6:30 p.m. in room 340 Franklin Hall.

The Student Voice Team is a group of student champions for diversity commissioned by JMC in 2014 to identify areas for improvement in both academics and student life. After speaking with the leaders of student media and organizations in the School, the Student Voice Team discovered a growing need to increase diversity in extracurricular activities.

“We, including some professors in JMC, feel that we’ve been coddled here in terms of [diversity in] the media and the real world,” Julia Adkins, Student Voice Team co-chair, said. “We want everyone to be prepared when they leave Kent State to go out into the real world and succeed, but we can’t do that if we don’t have a firm grasp on reality outside of college.”

“Real Talk: Uncut & Uncensored” will be a student-only conversation about tough topics in diversity, including underrepresentation, cliques within media organizations and what diversity means in journalism and mass communication.

Both the Student Voice Team and student media and organization leaders will lead the discussion. Students can share their concerns with representatives from TV2, Black Squirrel Radio, The Kent Stater, Public Relations Student Society of America and more.

“It’s an important conversation that needs to happen; we need to talk about things that are happening without the fear of backlash from our peers and our professors,” Adkins said. “That’s also why it’s a student only event. We wanted to create a safe space for students to talk about the things that are most important to them in regards to the media within today’s society, a place where we can all speak freely with each other and not be afraid to voice our opinions.”

Student Media Boards Propose Restructuring of Student Media Business Operations, Oversight

Two proposals to restructure the operations of JMC’s Student Media Business Office and the student media policy boards for the first time in more than a decade have been approved by the Student Media Policy Committee (SMPC) and the JMC Media Board (JMCMB).

The proposed restructuring would maintain the independence of student media content creation in all of Kent State’s print, online and digital outlets but would modernize the organizational structure and some functions of the Student Media Business Office.

The restructuring is driven by three key objectives: to make all student media more relevant to audiences and advertisers, to make student media more responsive to the transformative changes affecting the external media landscape and to make student media more self-sustaining.

Traditionally, student media were primarily supported through advertising sales, but as advertising dollars have waned, student fee allocations have begun to provide most of the funding — a trend the restructuring seeks to stem, according to JMC professor and JMCMB Chair Tim Roberts.

Both proposals require the approval of Kent State’s Board of Trustees. The Board could review the proposals as early as May.

The first proposal would create a new full-time position, the Director of Student Media, to improve the guidance and support to student media advisers and oversee the business office.  The university would seek a candidate experienced in the business and production aspects of media. This position would replace the current position of Manager of Student Media.

The new director, like the existing manager position, would report to the Director of JMC and have fiduciary responsibilities to the board.

The second proposal would merge the now independent SMPC and JMCMB to provide a less cumbersome oversight process. The JMCMB selects student leaders and provides oversight for co-curricular student media, including the Daily Kent Stater, TV2, KentWired.com, Black Squirrel Radio and The Burr. The SMPC provides guidance and budgetary oversight for extra-curricular publications, including A Magazine, Fusion, Luna Negra and Uhuru.

The merging of both boards was initially proposed in 2010, but the proposal never advanced through approval to implementation.

If approved now, the new board structure would provide equal representation from inside and outside JMC. Both the Director of JMC and the Director for the Center for Student Involvement would be members.

“These changes are a step, not a total solution, to make Student Media more nimble,” Roberts said. “We know that students are eager for change and want to help lead the way. Students involved with Student Media know what is happening in the external media landscape, and they know they must master the necessary skills to keep pace.  Our student audiences want to access media on platforms that are relevant to them to meet their news and information needs.”

As the Boards considered these proposals, Roberts said all members emphasized a guiding principle:  “In everything we are doing, the independence of students creating content is paramount.”

Frank Ryan, chair of the SMPB and an associate professor of philosophy, said a commitment to diversity also must be a basic tenet of a restructured student media.

“The prevailing perception is that KSU student media has not kept up with changes made by similar institutions elsewhere. But if so, that’s largely because the sound leadership and wise fiscal practices of the business manager have allowed us to postpone adopting the radical measures others have had to impose. For example, our ability to publish a daily newspaper and maintain five magazines is virtually unheard of anymore. Changes are needed, of course, but I hope they’re made in the spirit of student media’s excellent track record.  In particular, we should maintain our stellar national leadership in promoting voices of diversity,” Ryan said.

JMC Director Thor Wasbotten also emphasized the need for agility. “The proposed restructuring is not reactive; it has been considered with great care and deliberation by both boards. The Boards recognize the tremendous work done by Lori Cantor, staff and faculty who have contributed greatly and sacrificed greatly to create and sustain student media,” he said.  “At the same time, it’s important to recognize the industry itself has fundamentally changed, and our operations have not. We need a new model for managing student media outlets and for generating revenue for student media. We must ensure we are using student fee dollars judiciously.”

The proposals would provide more guidance, support and oversight to student media advisers.

“Advisers are also operating in a rapidly changing environment, where greater attention must be paid to digital media, without sacrificing the caliber of traditional media. We’ve got to give them adequate support,” Wasbotten said.

Open meetings with students, faculty and staff to discuss the proposed changes are underway.

CCI Film Gala to Benefit the ESL in Franklin Hall Postponed to February 21

The College of Communication and Information (CCI), along with the Undergraduate Student Government at Kent State University, will host a Film Gala at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 in Franklin Hall to raise money for the Equipment Services Lab (ESL) of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

“A lot of talented work is created by students and left unseen because of a lack of opportunities for them to get it out in the public,” said David Sadvari, chair of the event and senior electronic media management and production major. “I’m hoping that this event will not only get students’ videos more exposure in our Kent community but also in the respected industries of video production by inviting professionals to be a part of the panel of judges.”

The gala will begin with a reception in the Third Floor Lobby of Franklin Hall, just outside of the FirstEnergy Auditorium. Doors to the FirstEnergy Auditorium will open at 6:30 p.m., and the film competition will start at 7 p.m.

General admission is $5, and competition entrants will receive two complimentary tickets. All film entries will be judged on originality, technical merit, execution and audience appeal.

“I’m excited that Kent State alumni Keith Potoczak, broadcast journalism, ’03, JMC-MA, ‘06; and Jeff Webb, electronic media production, ’08; of Think Media Studios will be part of the judge’s panel for the gala,” Sadvari said. “It’s great to have former students of the program helping out with current events.”

Film submissions are due to Nicole Gennarelli in Rm. 131 Moulton Hall (CCI Dean’s Office) on or before Feb. 12, 2014. Participation is open to current Kent State students, as well as Kent State first year alumni, but the film screening is open to the public. A non-refundable flat fee of $15 per entry is required by each entrant which allows for three submissions to the competition. All entrants will receive notification of acceptance or non- acceptance no later than February 14, 2014. Should you not receive notification by that date, please contact Natalie Moses at nmoses1@kent.edu.

All films must be viewable by a general audience and free from any obscene, provocative or inappropriate content. All works must be completed in the past two years by current Kent State University students. The first place winner will receive a $75 book scholarship, second place a $50 book scholarship, and third place a $25 book scholarship. All scholarships will be deposited into students’ Bursars’ accounts. Competition winners can chose from different prize options in addition to the monetary award.

For more information and detailed competition rules, visit the event page on the USG website, http://usgkent.com/inaugural-film-gala.

TeleProductions Lands Contract with The CW Columbus

By Nicole Gennarelli

Kent State University TeleProductions partnered with The CW Network in Columbus and Mann Communications this fall to produce Thursday Night Lights, a five-game high school football series profiling Columbus teams.

Mann Communications contacted TeleProductions after hearing about its state-of-the-art satellite uplink/production truck and inquired about broadcasting a high school football package in Columbus. Once the partnership with CW Columbus was finalized to air the games, the whole deal came together.

“The great benefits to doing this program is marketing our truck and our TeleProductions program at Kent State,” said Jeff Bentley, TeleProductions executive producer for the Kent State Sports Network.

This program was the first time that high school football had been aired live on Thursday nights. The series aired five different Columbus area high school football games. Each week there were two student athletes from each team honored at halftime. Video stories of each player were played for spectators to watch.

“The truck traveled from Kent to Columbus every Thursday and on occasion left Columbus and went straight to an ESPN3 game at Ohio University or University of Toledo,” said Dan Tonelli, TeleProductions engineering and operations manager. “There were also a couple of weeks where we had Thursday, Friday and Saturday games.”

Many student workers at TeleProductions were able to gain real-world experience during the Thursday Night Light season, as well.

“That is what makes this whole thing a win-win situation,” Tonelli said. “The students get great experience, and the PR value of having our truck at all of these high schools is huge. The station is providing programming that no one else in the market is doing – probably the only opportunity most of these athletes will have to play in a televised game.”

Because of the professionalism and quality of programs TeleProductions produced, the CW Columbus will be continuing Thursday Night Lights in 2013 with a 10-game season.

“Our partnership with Kent State for Thursday Night Lights was successful due to the professionalism and experience of Jeff, Dan and their amazing production and engineering crew,” said Ellen Daly, vice president and general manager of The CW Columbus. “They share our philosophy of producing the best product possible, and this was certainly apparent in the look of the live HD broadcast of Thursday Night Lights. The positive viewer feedback was tremendous with an overwhelming response to the quality of our production.”

Currently, TeleProductions is in negotiations to take its truck to the Super Bowl in New Orleans, La., this year.

“We’ll be in a live productions capacity working for the BBC involved in its live production of the Super Bowl,” Bentley said. “We are excited at the real possibility of having our truck in New Orleans for the Super Bowl. We feel this is just another great opportunity to market not only our truck and department, but the whole university. It would be so cool to see the big Kent State logo on our truck in the massive production truck compound.”

Employers want account passwords: what would you do?

By Nicole Gennarelli

Employers asking job applicants for their account passwords is becoming frequent in today’s job market. Is it appropriate or a complete invasion of privacy?

Facebook Isn’t Suing Employers Who Ask for Your Password…Yet states that Facebook had a strong opinion towards employers who asked for applicant or current employee’s account passwords. It would involve policy makers or even legal action to protect the privacy of its users. However, according to the article, Facebook has issued a less threatening statement:

We don’t think employers should be asking prospective employees to provide their passwords because we don’t think it’s right the thing to do. While we do not have any immediate plans to take legal action against any specific employers, we look forward to engaging with policy makers and other stakeholders, to help better safeguard the privacy of our users.”

This issue has warranted attention from legislation in Maryland and Illinois where it’s proposed to forbid public agencies to continue this practice. According to the article, “Since the report was published, two U.S. senators have asked the Attorney General to investigate whether requesting Facebook passwords during job interviews violates federal law. One of those Senators, Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) plans to introduce a bill that would prevent companies from snooping on employees’ social media profiles, and California State Senator Leland Yee announced he would introduce a similar bill in California’s senate.”

This ethical issue stirred up a debate of privacy. Can employers legally ask you for private information? If yes, would you give it to them?

Although I am not entering the working world right away and have chosen to continue my education in graduate school, I am a recent college graduate. I feel that asking a future employee to disclose his/her password to an Email, Facebook, Twitter, or any type of account is unprofessional and an invasion of personal privacy. I understand employers concern about hiring someone who posts negative or compromising information or photos on a social media account. While I believe it’s smart to only post things online you are comfortable showing all your friends, it’s your own personal account, not a work account. Sometimes, I think it’s best for people to keep their social media accounts separate from any work-related activity. By granting others access to your accounts, it’s not only an invasion of your privacy but an invasion of all your friends & contacts privacy as well.

JMC Students Sit In On Dimora Trial

By Meghan Caprez

The media has been buzzing about former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora’s trial. Kent journalism students found themselves sitting in the media room next to professional reporters, writing on the same topics.

The trial, which is currently taking place in the Akron federal courthouse, sees Dimora facing 36 corruption-related charges, generating public interest in surrounding counties.

Sue Valerian, a part-time journalism professor, saw the trial as an opportunity for her Reporting Public Affairs students to receive experience in the field. As a class assignment, each student was required to sit in on the trial at least once.

“I hope they gain some kind of comfort and understanding in just being in a court room,” Valerian said. “It’s pretty intimidating doing anything for the first time.”

Senior Britni Williams was the first of Valerian’s students to go to the courthouse. Williams sat in on Jan. 21, then returned Jan. 28.

“Just walking into the building alone was overwhelming,” Williams said. “Having to go through the security check, figuring out where the clerk’s office was so I could get a media pass, finding out where the media room was to begin with was an experience.”

But when Williams walked into the media room, she realized that she had a distinct disadvantage. Those involved in the trial wanted to avoid a “media circus,” so no electronic devices were allowed in the main courtroom or in the public overflow room. Williams thought this also applied to the media room.

“I finally get in there and I feel like an idiot because I’m holding a pencil and a piece of paper and everyone’s got their laptops, iPads, cell phones, smart phones,” Williams said. “I said ‘Alright, let’s do this.’”

Though challenging at first, Williams did find the experience worthwhile. She was able to network with WKYC reporter Kim Wendel, who she still has contact with. Wendel helped Williams by sharing notes and opinions on reporting the events of the day.

She was also able to accomplish what Valerian hoped for all of her students; Williams went away from the experience with a story to tell. The story was posted to kentwired.com later that day.

Williams was also contacted by WKYC the following Monday for an interview about her experience. News anchor Eric Mansfield broadcasted a story on her time in the courthouse.

“It was exhilarating being side-by-side with all of these professionals,” Williams said. “I definitely have less reservations about walking into a federal courthouse now. Going in I was a little timid because I went in by myself not knowing what I was doing. After feeling it out on my own, I’m much more comfortable doing it now.”