EducationShift20: Honoring Innovative Journalism Educators

    by Amanda C. Bright
    January 9, 2018

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    Between institutional limitations, financial constraints and ever-changing technology, innovating in journalism education is a challenge. Those who lead the way are doing so through extensive investment – both in time and resources.

    After receiving numerous nominations from our audience and voting as a MediaShift staff, EducationShift is thrilled to honor the inaugural EducationShift20 with a list that includes journalism faculty at college and high school levels, as well as educators affiliated with various organizations. These educators have made a significant mark on the discipline, with their colleagues, and of course, with students.


    Find out more about the work and passion of the EdShift20 below. We encourage you to reach out and learn from or collaborate with these educators to move journalism education forward in 2018.

    1. Amara Aguilar, USC Annenberg

    Amara Aguilar is an associate professor of professional practice in digital journalism at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Aguilar’s impact on emerging journalistic innovations is multifaceted, as her nominators mentioned her launch of “Dimelo,” a social media news outlet for a Latinx audience; her implementation of innovative, digital-centered university programs that are inclusive and experiential; as well as her creation of the JEDI Desk, which is built around the concept of digital innovation.

    Aguilar is passionate about including diverse voices in journalism. She crafted a class where the focus was social media storytelling for Latino audiences, and as her student Tomas Antonio noted, its bilingual content demonstrates how Aguilar “goes out of her way to help students one on one. … Prof. Amara Aguila has been an inspiration for me.”


    To see more from Aguilar, check out what she wrote for EdShift in 2017, on topics as diverse as virtual reality and its effect on empathy to experimenting with Facebook Spaces to crafting journalistic stories for Alexa to participating in a Women’s Hackathon on Diversifying AI.

    2. Carrie Brown, CUNY Graduate School of Journalism

    As the director of social journalism at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism, Carrie Brown is leading and evolving a graduate program that many view as the future of journalism. With a focus on audience engagement and listening, the program emphasizes making an impact on a specific community through service. Dale Blasingame of Texas State University applauded the social journalism master’s degree under Brown’s leadership: “As the leader of a J-school startup, Carrie is constantly pushing for other J-schools to not only change curriculum, but she also is a strong voice in the efforts for more diversity in faculty and newsrooms.” Cindy Royal at Texas State University also noted Brown’s involvement in the social journalism program should be commended due to its results, with its graduates working in key positions in the New York area.


    3. Aaron Manfull, Francis Howell North High School in St. Charles, Mo.

    In his 20th year of advising high school publications, director of student media Aaron Manfull continues to innovate both for Francis Howell North High School in St. Charles, Mo., as well as for scholastic journalism educators nationwide. As a co-director for Media Now camps, he equips high school journalists with digital skills, and as the Journalism Education Association’s digital media chair, Manfull provides free access to new digital media ideas and practical tips from journalism educators throughout the country through the JEA Digital Media website. As the JEA Medal of Merit honoree for 2017, Manfull also was able to enjoy his students’ achievements as they took home Pacemakers for both Newspaper and Online publications from the National Scholastic Press Association.


    4. Lori Shontz, University of Oregon

    A dynamic conversation about the teaching of business skills in J-school was ignited after instructor Lori Shontz of the University of Oregon wrote about it last year for EducationShift. In turn, that led to an engrossing November #EdShift chat. She also wrote numerous times about innovation in how we cover violence and disasters, two areas that required some deep thinking throughout 2017. Through the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication’s Elevate Engagement program as a partnership with Journalism That Matters, Shontz also facilitated events and considered how to increase engagement.


    5. Kim Fox, The American University in Cairo

    Although Kim Fox is an associate professor of practice at the American University in Cairo, she is deeply connected to journalism educators and organizations in the United States to investigate better and more innovative practices in journalism education. From chats to sessions to conferences, Fox has brought all she has learned back to Egypt, so she can raise the bar for her diverse student population. Her graduate students showed their prowess in the coverage of an international conference this year, and what Fox was most proud of for 2017 was her ability to bring “diverse voices to the podcasting community by launching a narrative non-fiction podcast based in Cairo, Egypt, Ehky Ya Masr, Tell Your Story, Egypt.”


    6. Michelle Ferrier, Ohio University

    According to Mark Poepsel at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, Michelle Ferrier is an innovator, in part, because of a textbook published with Elizabeth Mays in 2017 entitled “Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship.” The text is both collaborative and open; it’s free for students and educators. As an associate professor of journalism in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, Ferrier’s work addresses project management that keeps journalistic principles in mind. “Dr. Ferrier also hosted a series of chats with authors and those implementing the text to establish an interactive and iterative protocol by which the text will evolve rapidly. It’s an innovation in publishing, and it stands to help reshape media management and journalism entrepreneurship education across the country and around the globe,” Poepsel said. Ferrier also led The Media Seeds: Southeast Ohio Project in 2017, which works to communicate with residents in media deserts. She is also the founder of TrollBusters.com, a just-in-time rescue service for women writers and journalists experiencing online harassment.


    7. Mindy McAdams, University of Florida

    Mindy McAdams is a professor at the University of Florida teaching about digital journalism, code, news apps, social media and all things progressive. She holds the Knight Chair in Journalism Technologies and the Democratic Process, and she is a voice for the value of coding in journalism school, and what journalism educators can and should do to raise the visibility of coding in the classroom. Her own learning about the intersection of journalism and the web is visible as she works through technological issues and conundrums on her blog, and is willing to share her full syllabi with other J-school educators.


    8. Will Sites, Lincoln University

    An assistant professor of journalism at Lincoln University, Will Sites is a former journalist who now is interested in drone journalism, media convergence, disruptive innovation, media law and website usability. When he gained his FAA Part 107 drone pilot license, he brought drone journalism to the newsroom and senior capstone class at Lincoln University, which he described in a story for EducationShift. That meant Lincoln had the nation’s first HBCU unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) training program, according to The Clarion News. When many larger universities are just getting into the drone game, Lincoln University’s student body has benefited from the tangible and innovative learning experience.


    9. Elia Powers, Towson University

    Elia Powers, an assistant professor of journalism and new media at Towson University, is a regular contributor on issues relating to audience engagement, teaching practices and sports, but he has tackled the all-important trend of news literacy often in 2017 with progressive practices that educators can apply in their classrooms. His research on awareness of personalization and filtering among young people started larger conversations about how certain generations view news and how journalism can respond to these perceptions to deliver accurate and applicable information.


    10. Jeremy Caplan, CUNY Graduate School of Journalism

    As the director of education for the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, Jeremy Caplan has witnessed the seventh group of Entrepreneurial Journalism majors through CUNY who craft startups through a process of ideation, experimentation, design, prototyping, launching and testing. According to Michael Rain of ZNews Africa: “This year’s group included emerging tech and mobile tech-enabled storytelling platforms and products, motion graphic content developers, investigative and business journalism. The founders represented 13 countries on six continents and have secured partnerships, investments, grants and recognition from Google, Facebook, TED, the City of New York and have even won a Pulitzer.” Betty Tsakarestou, assistant professor and head of advertising at Panteion University in Athens, Greece, added that Caplan’s passion as an educator and mentor helped inspire her and others to take the lead in innovation this year.


    11. Devadas Rajaram, Asian College of Journalism

    Called “a pioneer of new media studies in Indian journalism education” by his nominators, Devadas Rajaram was lauded with comments that show he has fully embraced emerging technologies. Rajaram is a faculty member at the Asian College of Journalism, and Keerthana Sankaran, content editor at The New Indian Express, said Rajaram is constantly creating fresh avenues for new media students by changing his curriculum each term to provide the most up-to-date digital journalism experience. “He has introduced a lot of new tech and gizmos to a number of journalism students across the world — from semi-rural India to cities in Europe,” according to Kshitij Kumar of The Quint.


    12. Cindy Royal, Texas State University

    Whether it was the creation of a new Digital Media Innovation Major or the opening of the Media Innovation Lab in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Texas State University, Professor Cindy Royal has been deeply involved in innovation in journalism education in 2017. According to Kelly Kaufhold at Texas State, Royal also taught a MOOC on Project Management for the Knight Center for the Americas, continues to push the future of journalism curricula and crusades to teach more journalists and women to code. Amy Schmitz Weiss of San Diego State University also noted that Royal recently announced a Knight grant she received for starting a digital boot camp for Ph.D. and early-career professors. “She is always on the cutting edge for the academy and for J-students everywhere,” Schmitz Weiss said.


    13. Jessica Pucci, Arizona State University

    Jessica Pucci, professor of practice at Arizona State University who was recently named director of digital audience programs for the Cronkite School, is a believer in audience engagement and analytics for all types of communicators. She wrote for EducationShift about implementing CrowdTangle in various ways in the classroom, and she has led the charge on a digital audiences minor at ASU. “Jessica is a leading voice in the effort to get more journalists, students and professors to understand analytics and the audience. Her efforts have been highlighted at AEJMC, among other conferences,” said Dale Blasingame of Texas State University.


    14. Kathryn Gretsinger, University of British Columbia

    As a senior instructor at the University of British Columbia, Kathryn Gretsinger worked to innovate in the area of indigenous reporting in 2017, according to Alfred Hermida, director and associate professor in the UBC Graduate School of Journalism. Her course on the topic produced the award-winning “TEM:EXW: Stories of Land,” which used multi-platform techniques to tell complex and intimate stories. “Creating this project and the success it has achieved takes ingenuity and innovation from many perspectives: editorially, writing of multi-platform storytelling, technologically and digitally, and pedagogically as the primary goal has always been student learning,” Hermida said.


    15. Katherine Reed, University of Missouri

    University of Missouri’s associate professor of journalism Katherine Reed was nominated as a journalism educator who led the way in 2017 by students who said that post-graduation, they use just about everything learned in her course to inform their reporting. “Katherine taught a trauma reporting class that changed the way I report, analyze, read breaking news and report on traumatic events,” Katie Kull, Wyoming Tribune Eagle reporter, said. Another student chimed in with similar praise: “Her covering traumatic events course taught me to be a compassionate human and journalist (in that order). I still use things I learned in that class every day – most impactful class I took at MU.” Reed also wrote an article addressing ethics and journalists’ coverage of violence that engaged many in conversation in light of the events of 2017.


    16. Kathryn Thier, University of Oregon

    As an instructor in the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon, Kathryn Thier regularly interacts with students to teach them best reporting practices. However, her nomination centered on her 2017 work with solutions journalism and why she is passionate about this innovative way of telling stories. According to Holly Wise of Texas State University and the Solutions Journalism Network, Thier has built course material to bring students to an understanding and practice of solutions journalism, often consulting with educators who are working to integrate this type of reporting into their curricula. “Her students have won awards through their work and have established media partnerships with local Eugene, Ore., news organizations. Kathryn’s research on solutions journalism has been published in peer-reviewed journals, and her presence on conference panels was instructive and informative,” Wise said.


    17. Jeremy Lipschultz, University of Nebraska Omaha

    Jeremy Lipschultz professor and Issacson Chair at the University of Nebraska Omaha released an updated second edition of his book, “Social Media Communication: Concepts, Practices, Data, Law and Ethics,” in 2017 that educators have found useful for taking a deep dive into social media in the classroom. Karen Freberg of the University of Louisville noted his text “contributed significantly towards journalism education in social media.” In writing for HuffPost on everything from social media marketing to brand engagement through social, Lipschultz has continued to evolve the conversation about social platforms from just personal networking to essential journalistic practice.


    18. Maryanne Reed, West Virginia University

    Starting off 2017 by being named the 2016 Scripps Howard Administrator of the Year, Maryanne Reed, dean of West Virginia University’s Reed College of Media, has been aggressive in updating both the curricula and physical space within her realm of journalism education. In addition to leading the development of the Media Innovation Center at WVU, Reed has spearheaded changes to integrate media learning, moving toward a digital-first orientation for journalism majors. Also, a collaboration between the WVU College of Media, West Virginia Public Broadcasting and rural news site The Daily Yonder brought about a fuller storytelling about Appalachia.


    19. Solomon Elliott, The Student View

    Robin Brinkworth of The Student View / Mawsonia remarked that Solomon Elliott, founder of The Student View, has continued to expand and enhance his educational charity online publication in 2017. According to Brinkworth, The Student View brings journalists into U.K. schools in order to expose them to the profession. “He’s brought kids into Parliament to interview their MPs, he’s brought kids into top creative agencies to give them opportunities to think differently, and he’s improved their literacy and range of opportunities. He is civil society’s answer to the lack of trust in the media, the lack of diversity in the media, and the lack of a comprehensive modern media education for children,” Brinkworth said.


    20. Jane Bannester, Ritenour High School in St. Louis

    Named as a Journalism Education Association Distinguished Broadcast Adviser for 2017 and the Missouri Interscholastic Press Association’s 2017 Journalism Teacher of the Year, Jane Bannester of Ritenour High School is an adviser for radio and television. Yet, her students cover much more than traditional high school topics. In 2017, Bannester’s students tackled complex issues through diverse media, such as racial tensions in their area. The KRHS Media Program at Ritenour High School wrote in on Bannester’s behalf, noting she has inspired and innovated by beginning the first drone journalism course and presenting at numerous local and national conferences on podcasting. On the JEA website, Bannester said: “In our business, a movement is on to innovate and possess a growth mindset. We must evolve our systems for reaching our students.”

    Congratulations to the 2017 EducationShift20 honorees!

    Amanda C. Bright is a former professional journalist who later spent a decade as a scholastic journalism adviser of both newspaper and yearbook in Illinois. Currently, Bright is the EducationShift editor, a journalism instructor at Eastern Illinois University and the Media Content Coordinator for Indiana State University Online; she also serves as the Social Media Director and Web Co-Administrator for the Illinois Journalism Education Association.

    Tagged: advisers edshift edshift20 journalism education journalism educators
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    EducationShift aims to move journalism education forward with coverage of innovation in the classroom as journalism and communications schools around the globe are coping with massive technological change. The project includes a website, bi-weekly Twitter chats at #EdShift, mixers and workshops, and webinars for educators.
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