Going ‘Beyond Classroom Walls’

27 10 2010

By Tom Hanaway (@tomhanaway)

The College of Letters and Science will be hosting an event to highlight special projects UW Oshkosh students have been a part of, including two projects involving the Journalism Department.

“Beyond Classroom Walls: UW Oshkosh Students and Faculty Take on the Real World” is an event aimed at showing the Oshkosh community five of the many projects being done by students outside of the classroom.

One of the projects being presented is about journalism students in two advertising courses, Professor Sara Hansen’s Research and Strategic Communication course and Professor Dana Baumgart’s Strategic Campaigns in Advertising course. The students were given the Grand Opera House as their real-life client. Their main priority was to analyze how to draw college students to the newly renovated theater in downtown Oshkosh.

The other project is a film, “Airboat Rescue 1: When the Ice Breaks,” made by Journalism lecturer Grace Lim and two Radio-TV-Film students, Mark Mazur and Trent Hilborn. The trio set out to make a documentary about the Lee family of Poygan, Wis. They are volunteer rescue workers who risk their lives to save people who fall into the freezing waters of their town using their hovercraft, Airboat Rescue 1. Lim and her students braved the thin ice to frigid temperatures to videotape the Lee family in action.

Lim said “Beyond Classroom Walls” is a significant event that highlights the many strengths of the College of Letters and Science.

“This event is a combined celebration of the great teacher and student collaborative works and a celebration of an extraordinary example of community volunteerism,” Lim said.


Beyond Classroom Walls


She said the event’s purpose is to show the Oshkosh community how education can be done outside the confinements of the classroom in a unique and engaging fashion.

“’Beyond Classroom Walls’ showcases the high-quality work that students do outside the traditional classroom structure,” Lim said. “Working with their instructors, the students work under real-life conditions that have real-life measurable impact.”

A special preview screening of “Airboat Rescue 1” will be showcased as the event. She will also show the manyfaces behind the movie as well. Music professor Andre Gaskins, who composed original music for the documentary, along with students Amanda Martin and Callie Soddy, will perform songs from the soundtrack.

The event will take place Thursday, Nov. 11 at 5:30 p.m. in the Steinhilber Gallery and the Reeve Theatre on the third floor of Reeve Memorial Union. “Beyond Classroom Walls” is open to the general public. The Journalism Department will be live-tweeting at the event. Follow our tweets throughout the night to see what is happening at “Beyond Classroom Walls.”


Jim VandeHei Looks into the Future

25 10 2010

Derek SchroederBy Derek Schroeder (@Derek_Schroeder)

Jim VandeHei isn’t all business. He began his speech on Saturday, Oct. 17th at the PRSA general session in Washington D.C. with a shout out to the “Wisconsin contingent” in the crowd and asked for updates on the Packer game.

As he got down to the nitty-gritty, he brought up major changes in media that he has noticed.

The first change is the growing popularity of niche publications, much like his niche online news outlet, POLITICO. Niche publications attract people looking for specific areas of coverage, according to VandeHei. Advertisers can also appreciate “the age of niche” because advertisements can be focused on more specific demographics. Niche papers allow advertisers to be more adaptive to their publics much like how new media must be.

The other change he mentioned was the need to be agile and adaptive. With publics constantly changing habits, one must be ready for the next big platform. In POLITICO’s view that would be the new iPad application they are preparing.

VandeHei elaborated on the future of news media and whether people are ever going to pay for news. The real question is how much will people pay for news? He also mentioned the possibility of news outlets charging for more in-depth or more advanced news in the future, including POLITICO.

Lastly, he was addressed with the question of how to make a successful media website. It is all in the gratification of user experience, VandeHei said. The need to simplify and decrease clutter on a webpage will allow users to navigate with ease. One way to decrease clutter is to pick two or three things that you can do well that nobody else can do or at all and focus on them. The final tip he gave on making a successful site is to focus on continuous readers and keeping them happy.

Some members of the UW Oshkosh PRSSA Chapter was able to speak with him after his speech. He shared with us that the youth of today has lost their ability to focus. So the next time you are around a professional, make sure to focus on eye contact for more than five seconds. Also, VandeHei said, “Read everything.”

Journalism Is Moving On Up

21 10 2010

By Tom Hanaway (@tomhanaway)

Starting this summer, the Department of Journalism will bid farewell to Clow Social Science Center after occupying the first floor for decades. Next fall, Journalism will open its doors in the new academic building being constructed right across the street from Clow.

Journalism will now be located on the third floor of the new academic building, being built to be as environmentally efficient as possible. Mike Cowling, chair of the Journalism Department, said that the department will not be losing any space because of the move.

“We will still have three computer labs,” Cowling said. “And professor’s offices will be about the same size, but will have a window and new furniture.”

Windows and furniture are not the only new additions that come along with the move. The academic building will have a digital photography lab as well as 29 additional classrooms that could be used for Journalism classes.

The new academic building.

A mock-up photo of what the new academic building will look like once it's completed in the fall of 2011.

Besides Journalism, other departments from the College of Letters and Sciences will be on the third floor, including Women Studies, African-American Studies and the History Department.

Another academic resident will be the College of Business, which was a vital factor in the Journalism Department’s move.

“One of the reasons that Journalism will be in the new building is because the College of Business wanted us there,” Cowling said. “A key reason is that Business offers marketing, and Journalism will be offering some classes with that as part of the new Interactive Web Technology major.”

Cowling said the department has been part of the construction of the building from the beginning, helping design the layout of the third floor.

“Journalism was involved in the planning of the three labs, the digital photo lab and the reading room,” he said.

Cowling said the academic building not only offers a benefit to Journalism, but UW-Oshkosh as a whole.

“It will be the most environmentally friendly building on campus,” he said. “It will be a great addition to the campus, but will also be a showpiece for prospective students and their parents.”

The building will help Journalism stay on the cutting-edge and continue to be on the forefront education, he said.

“With the field of journalism changing dramatically these days, I am excited that we will be in the most technologically advanced building on campus,” Cowling said. “It will allow us to adapt to the current technology needs for teaching, and allow us to change as the types of new and emerging media are developed.”

Finding A “Charmed” Life

19 10 2010

Lindsey NoackBy Lindsey Noack (@LinzCnoack)

Lately, I feel so busy I can’t find time to breathe. It’s getting down to the make-it-or-break-it part of my college career where everything I’ve learned the first two years is getting put to use in the last two. Before, grades were my main focus as a freshman and sophomore, but now experience is what I’m constantly on the lookout for.

I’ve had my “intern opportunity” radar up since this summer and as prospective chances at building my resume keep coming my way, I continue filling up the precious little space I have left in my schedule. Goodbye TV, eating and sleeping. Hello homework, class and work projects.

Sometimes I find myself asking, Do I really need to be doing all of this stuff? Isn’t college the time when you are supposed to be doing whatever you want, enjoying yourself whenever you feel like it?

On Oct. 8, I went to a speech by Jim VandeHei, cofounder of POLITICO and a board member of the Pulitzer Prize Board, and I got a wakeup call.

I was excited that someone as influential in the world as him would be coming to speak to beginners like me. He talked about how he had been in the same exact position as us students and at first wasn’t really sure how great his future would be. But he really got me when he started talking about how his jobs and internships helped him learn things that you can’t learn in school. It was a lot of those kinds of experiences that helped him get into the professional field where the opportunities started to arise.

My favorite quote from his was that “you will have a charmed life when you put yourself in a position where you can have a charmed life.” He added that life is about circumstance and being ready to take advantage of it.

This rousing speech was the motivation I needed to again understand why I have been taking advantage of all the openings made available to me. This experience is extremely important for my future and, while it’s sometimes a sacrifice, a satisfying and successful career will be more than worth it.

VandeHei Visits UWO

15 10 2010

By Tom Hanaway (@tomhanaway)

On Thursday, Oct. 7, I got quite a surprising e-mail.

The previous day I had written about James VandeHei, co-founder of POLITICO and Journalism Department alumnus, who was going to give a speech at UW-Oshkosh on Oct. 8. The next thing I knew I was invited to the presentation to experience it for myself.

While I had planned on wearing sweatpants and sleeping in on that fateful Friday morning, suddenly I was digging through my closet trying to find an appropriate outfit for VandeHei’s speech, which would be given during the fifth-annual UW-Oshkosh Foundation Community Breakfast.

Nervous doesn’t begin to describe how I was feeling at that moment.

On that Friday, I woke up at the crack of dawn to get ready for the 7 a.m. breakfast that took place at the Student Recreation and Wellness Center, but when I arrived I noticed two things;

1. This was obviously a huge deal. At the event were the members of the Board of Regents, reporters from local newspapers, presidents of local companies and organizations, and more.

2. I was one of roughly two college students at the breakfast, which made me feel very humbled to be one of the few students invited.

After some opening speeches, VandeHei, who is a member of the Pulitzer Prize Board, took to the stage and discussed his education, POLITICO and the current political landscape.

VandeHei said that his degrees in political science and journalism helped him become a journalist, as did his internships at The Oshkosh Northwestern and The Brillion News.

He talked about how he slowly became a more prominent political journalist in Washington D.C. by working for such newspapers as The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.

He closed his presentation by giving his thoughts about the upcoming election. He noted recent trends in politics, like the Tea Party movement, certain political figures that were gaining much attention, like Sarah Palin, and what recent POLITCO polls were showing. I found the whole speech extremely interesting.

Afterward he took a few questions from the audience and then went to Reeve Memorial Union where he gave a similar speech that was open to all students, faculty and staff of UWO.

During his second speech I live-tweeted what VandeHei was saying on the Department of Journalism’s Twitter account to keep everyone in the loop. VandeHei was saying so many interesting and insightful quotes that it was hard to keep up with him. The whole time I was typing furiously and barely got a chance to actually look at him during his whole speech.

Before he left, Journalism graduate Melanie Stepanek, Journalism student assistant Lindsey Noack and I were able to sneak in a picture with VandeHei and shake his hand before he left. It was the perfect way to end the day.

Meeting VandeHei, who at one point was in the exact same position as I am, made me realize that I also have the potential to one day become a successful reporter, start my own business, or possibly even become a member of the Pulitzer Prize Board.


James VandeHei

From the left is student assistant Lindsey Noack, Journalism graduate Melanie Stepanek, POLITICO co-founder James VandeHei and social media coordinator Tom Hanaway.


Nice to Tweet You

14 10 2010

Tom Hanaway

By Tom Hanaway (@tomhanaway)

Hello! My name is Tom Hanaway and I am the new social media coordinator for the Department of Journalism this year.

Just because I have this new position doesn’t mean that I am a fresh face around the department. On the contrary, I have been working in the department for over a year now.

Back in the spring interim of 2009, which I was just a naïve, doe-eyed sophomore, I took Principles of Public Relations with Dr. Steffes-Hansen. After the course ended, she recommended me as a student assistant for the Journalism Department, and I instantly knew that this was the perfect job for me.

Initially I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. At first I thought it would be stapling papers and making photocopies (which I do often, don’t get me wrong), but later it evolved into something greater. After becoming a student assistant I felt like I was a part of the heart and soul of the department. I started meeting dozens of students in the program, I began to develop relationships with professors and I knew what was happening in the department weeks before anyone else.

My connections with the journalism department even landed me a dream internship. Currently I am one of three writers who contribute to our school union’s blog. I heard about this position while having a discussion with a fellow journalism student. When I inquired to a professor about the job, she immediately told me who to contact and what to say. Within a few weeks I was blogging for the website, which receives hundreds of hits every month.

My blogging internship also sparked my passion for social media. After working as a blogger for several months, I attended a conference in Milwaukee where I got a crash course in social media. Afterward I fell in love with the topic.

Around the same time that I began to understand and become a part of the social media universe, so did the Department of Journalism. Dr. Steffes-Hansen and others decided to implement a social media initiative where one student would help create and maintain a blog, Twitter and Facebook account on behalf of the department.

Last year Melanie Stepanek was more than successful in constructing and implementing the social media plan for the department. But now that she graduated, I have been asked to fill her shoes and to continue to nurture and grow our online content.

I feel so lucky and honored to have this position. It seems like destiny that this internship fell into my lap right in the peak of my social media experience. I’m looking forward to writing and editing blog posts, updating our Facebook fan page, sending out tweets all day long, and most of all, keeping students, faculty, staff and alumni informed about what is going on in the department throughout the year.

If you want to write anything for our department blog, please feel free to let me know and e-mail me at hanawt87@uwosh.edu. I want this blog to be the best possible outlet for stories about journalistic experiences, ideas, theories and dreams, and I can only do it with your help.

The Capitol Connection: People, Press and Politics

11 10 2010

Heather WadeBy Heather Wade (@wadeh78)

The UW Oshkosh chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America has many opportunities for its members, one of those is attending the PRSSA National Conference. Every fall, our chapter attends this conference, which changes venue each year; this year it will be held in Washington D.C.

This conference, starting Oct. 15, is the largest annual meeting of public relations students in the U.S., with more than 1,000 students getting together for a weekend of networking, professional development, career preparation and leadership training.

Washington D.C. will mark my third trip to a PRSSA National Conference. I can honestly say that these conferences have allowed me to create a large network of PR friends all over the U.S., including Hawaii, Georgia, Florida, California and Texas. The National Conference is such a great way to learn about the different areas of PR.

The conference begins on a Friday and ends the following Tuesday. Friday starts off with a social titled, “Bring us something PRSSA,” where all the chapters bring memorabilia from their schools while supporting their chapter’s t-shirt and mingling with other schools. Sessions go Saturday, Sunday and Monday, and the final night brings the PRSSA Banquet, where chapters and individual members are honored for their work over the previous year.

And the best part by far is the fact that our adviser, Dr. Julie Henderson, sits on the PRSSA National Committee as the national adviser for PRSSA. It is great that our chapter is able to be there to cheer on its adviser. We will finally get to hear back on how we did this past spring on our National Campaign for Organ Donation Awareness. In the past, our PRSSA has taken home the first place plaque in 2007 and 2008, and second place in 2009.

At the conference, we will learn from professionals working in fashion, politics, crisis communication, entertainment and many other fields, helping us get one step closer to determining what aspect of public relations interests us. We will hear about some of the most exciting communications strategies, tactics and tools currently shaping the field from the people who are using them daily.

Another benefit from attending the PRSSA National Conference is that the Public Relations Society of America’s International Conference takes place at the same time. PRSA is PRSSA’s parent organization. So, as students, we also get to attend two general sessions hosted by PRSA. Past speakers include Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post; Al Roker, formerly on the NBC Today Show; and Donald Trump.

One of this year’s General Session speakers just happens to be UW Oshkosh Journalism Department alumnus, Jim VandeHei. He is the executive editor and co-founder of POLITICO, a nonpartisan media company covering national politics and Washington governance.

Along with networking and attending, the conference gives students an opportunity to travel to all over the U.S. and allots time after sessions for students to tour the host city. I am extremely excited to tour Washington D.C. mainly because I’ve never visited, and we are going a day early so that our group can see as many museums and sites as possible before we leave.

Stay tuned for my future post about the PRSSA National Conference in Washington D.C.