Scripps changing twofold

For my Journalism 231 course, we had to write a story and include a multimedia component. I did my story on how Scripps College of Communication is changing its curriculum in 2012 when the entire university changes from quarters to semesters and when the communication school moves to a new location. Below is my story and a video of the current and future communications buildings with audio from an interview with Dr. Robert Stewart.

Ohio University is making a major change in the fall of 2012 with a switch from quarters to semesters, but for the Scripps College of Communication, it will be an even greater change as they implement a new face on curriculum and offices.

Professors and students alike have mixed feelings about the changes. However, it is a necessary change because the entire University Council needs time to approve each school’s curriculum, said Dr. Robert Stewart, a journalism professor, current associate director of undergraduate studies and next year’s associate director.

“I have to confess, I was really not looking forward to a lot of these changes,” Stewart said. “Now, I see that there are some real good opportunities, and frankly, we have to change. We have to move forward because the industry is changing; everything is changing.”

The faculty has approved the newly proposed journalism curriculum that will begin in 2012, and much of the course ideas were based on feedback from journalism companies and alumni to incorporate more real-world journalism experiences by requiring a much wider variety of skills, Stewart said .

“The main change that is happening is breaking down the sequences into these two broad categories,” Stewart said. “Instead of having six distinct areas, there will be two broad areas.”

The two broad areas, which will be called “tracks,” are replacing the current six sequences. The “strategic communications” track will combine the advertising and public relations sequences while the news writing/editing, online journalism, magazine journalism and broadcast news sequences will be included under another track, called “news and information.” After students have decided which track they want to take, all the rest of the courses are in a “bucket,” as Stewart called it, to pick from a variety of courses. Then, there is a capstone class to finish the curriculum that can integrate all students from different interests.

“Now it’s just a matter of the fine tuning with what’s going to happen in each class, who’s going to teach it and making sure that the kinds of things that we think are important for students to walk away with are going to happen,” said Michelle Honald, assistant professor and public relations advisor for the journalism school.

While the academic side will provide the broad variety of skills to learn, many students can find the detailed and hands-on experience they are looking for through the on-campus opportunities such as WOUB, ImPRessions and The Post.

Since the curriculum is in place, the faculty will then receive training in how to advice the students that are going to be part of the transition, Honald said. Stewart agrees that members of the faculty have to be good role models through this change. The more the faculty plan ahead, the more they will be prepared to handle the current freshmen and the incoming students from now until 2012.

However, two students, Patrick Holmes, a journalism freshman in the online sequence, and Heather Bartman, a freshman in public relations, have yet to feel advised on the switch and are unsure of their next steps. They are both concerned that it will be during their senior year and do not want to get sidetracked or stuck behind.

“Because this will happen my senior year, I worry that it will cause me to graduate later,” Bartman said. “Also, my senior year I want to focus on finding a job and perfecting my resume and portfolio, not worrying about how my credits transfer.”

Because the entire university will be going through the same process and all faculties will do their best to help students, Honald advises students to not panic but also not get behind in their studies.

“I can only suspect that there is going to have to be a little bit of latitude to get people out of here on time, because that first year of students are going to be guinea pigs,” Honald said. “And I’m sure there will be challenging cases but only hope the administration will have some flexibility in terms of making sure we can let [current freshmen] graduate.”

However, Bartman said that from what she knows about the new curriculum, it is beneficial to future students because it will be more suited for what journalism students will be facing as a career right now and in the future.

Going from quarters to semesters is going to be difficult enough, but physically moving across campus and integrating all communication schools in the old Baker Center is an added obstacle.

Based on current planning, the new building will be occupied in two phases, Stewart said. Faculty will be moving into the building at the end of the first semester in December 2012 for the first phase. Within two years, phase two will include the transformation of classrooms.

“With five schools in the college, the fact that we would all be in the same building, I think allows for a lot more collaboration, which seems only good for faculty and students,” Honald said.

While the phases are in transition, the current communications buildings will be used for other purposes. For example, the E.W. Scripps Hall will still be used for classrooms and many of the faculty offices in the current Scripps Hall will be designated for student organizations. Also, the Lasher Learning Center in Scripps will turn into a “sand box” classroom for the capstone courses where students can come together in an innovative space, Stewart said.

“Part of my job as the director during this period will be to find ways to boost the good energy and help control some of the bad energy,” Stewart said.

PR Success

The 2010 Winter Edition of PR Success is a great issue! It's a student-written newsletter that is sent out to all journalism students, Scripps faculty and PR alumni. I love writing for it every quarter because it brings the OU chapter together and there are always interesting articles to read, experiences to learn and great advice from professionals and pre-professionals. For this issue, I wrote about the 2010 PRSSA National Conference in San Diego. It was a great trip, and I was fortune to have gone this year.


See my blog post called "Time management key to success" for the student-run PR firm at Ohio University, ImPRessions. I am the Co-Account Executive for the local College Book Store. ImPRessions has its own Web site and blog. Also, please check out the fall edition of ExPRessions, the organization's newsletter. There is a post about my account's success for fall quarter called "College Book Store's homecoming" on page 3. :)

The 5 Influential Experiences

When: Nov 5-10
Where: 2009 PRSSA National Conference in San Diego, California

The First Influence: Arianna Huffington
When: Sunday, November 8
Where: PRSA General Session

Arianna Huffington, the creator and editor of The Huffington Post, received a warm welcome from thousands of PRSA and PRSSA members. She is not a PR professional, but a reporter who has worked with countless PR pros on a daily basis. Out of her valuable speech, one quote stuck with me: "Framing is key." This goes not only with journalism but also public relations because you need to grab the attention of your readers before anything else, which all depends on how it looks and appeals to them. Huffignton explained that if she hadn't "framed" the blog post about Joe Biden's retirement, it would not have grabbed as many readers' attentions. She said that the frame causes drama, which is what people want and are drawn to.

The Second Influence: Wendell Potter
When: Sunday, November 8
Where: PRSA General Session with Arianna Huffington

Confronted with corrupted PR decisions, Wendell Potter told his story. He worked in an insurance industry where customers were treated unfairly. At this insurance company, he was required to use a front group and share untruthful information about the purposes and services that the company can provide. To justify his reasoning and guilt, he told himself that he was telling the public what they wanted to hear. "If you start to do it for so long, you think it's okay," he admitted. He told Huffington that we should all ask ourselves if we could tell our parents, family members and friends what we do for a living--if we can't, is it ethical? "If you're in constant fear, do a check and ask yourself," said Potter. He decided to share his experiences because he felt it would make a difference to others. Instead of working unethically, he is writing a book about it and his life experiences dealing with it.

The Third Influence: Dr. Joseph V. Trahan III
When: Saturday, November 7
Where: PRSSA Professional Development on Media Relations - "Palm Trees & Press Releases"

Dr. Joseph Trahan is the president and CEO of Trahan & Associates. His enthusiasm and knowledge about his work makes the whole room excited to listen. He started with what he called the "three C's of media relations." The first one was being in CONTROL even when asked the difficult questions you're not aloud to answer or don't have the answer to. COMPETENCE is the second "C" and it means to stay in your own lane, do what you're supposed to and don't make up answers, lie, or do things you don't need to. For the final "C," Trahan said to have CONCERN for everything you do. Along with each "C" comes preparation such as one hour of prep time for every minute of airtime at news conferences, and commanding messages such as short, clear, honest and simple messages. Explain (from the heart, not generic) what you want the audience to remember.

The Fourth Influence(s): Ron Culp and Kevin Saghy
When: Saturday, November 7
Where: PRSA Professional Development on A View From the Top: How Young Talent Can Stand Out

Both speakers are professionals at Ketchum in Chicago but each are at different areas of their careers. Ron Culp gave the perspective through a Senior Executive's position and Kevin Saghy as a Junior Assistant. Each PR professional explained their generation's idea of success, contrasted the answers and compared the results from their peers. From a senior professional, being a team-player is most important for new pros to stand out. On the other hand, for a junior professional, they answered that going the extra mile is what counts. To succeed, each side has a similar answer: produce quality work. However, the senior pros recommend new pros know the business while junior pros are concentrated on exploring new areas. If junior pros don't own up to their mistakes but instead throw their co-workers under the bus, they have committed the Cardinal Sin in PR. Senior professionals would rather new professionals don't seek credit all the time but instead follow their team's agenda. Advice from senior to junior: "be current, curious and creative" and even if you're in the hot seat knocking elbows with the VP, don't be intimidated but contribute ideas and brainstorm as much as possible.

The Fifth Influence(s): Harry Medvet & Bill Shaikin
When: Sunday, November 8
Where: PRSSA Professional Development on Entertainment & Sports - "Entertainment & Sports PR Roundtable"

Harry Medvet: Head of PR at Fandango. Always take the chance even when you don't think you can, especially for that dream job. Research the place you want to work before the interview. Be the actor in a way by reading every article, being enthusiastic and pretending to be the person as if you have the job already.

Bill Shaikin: Sportswriter for LA Times. Everyone is interested and has an opinion on entertainment and sports. Because of this, social media can make it a blessing and a curse. In all of journalism, it is about building those contacts, especially when 95% of jobs aren't advertised.