Converging News

In this issue of Converging News:

Another Autumn Arrives At Texas Tech This Fall
By: Andrew Hart, photo by Tarryn Lambert

Dr. Autumn Shafer The current public relations campaigns and strategies professor in the College of Media & Communication is an avid outdoorsperson who enjoys fly-fishing, hiking and camping.

Autumn Shafer also happens to be a very experienced communications professional who has a background in public relations and political communications. She once worked as a political campaign manager, field director and state legislative aide.

In Shafer's undergraduate education at the Washington State University, she was not at first considering a career route in communications. After taking a required course in communications, she decided she liked it so much that she switched from her bachelor's degree in chemistry to communications.

"I had to take a class in communications and I thought, 'This is really interesting. I really like this persuasion stuff," Shafer said.

All was not lost in the degree change though. Shafer said that she has been able to apply some of her math skills in her profession.

"I take that same analytical thinking to my research, and I do a lot of experimental research and statistical analyses," Shafer said.

She completed her master's degree also at Washington State before earning her Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Her research area concerns health communication, examining the effects of mass media on health-related attitudes and behaviors and how individuals process persuasive health messages. She is most interested in focusing her research on adolescents and teen sexual health.

Since Shafer has been at Texas Tech, she and John Wirtz and Liz Gardner have collaborated about research opportunities because they all share the same interest in health communication. This was one of the driving factors that led Shafer to come to Texas Tech.

"One of the things that I really liked about Texas Tech was the other faculty members. I knew some of their reputations before coming here and then meeting them," Shafer said. "I've wanted to work with them research-wise, plus they are really nice people, and I wanted to be somewhere that was a cooperative, supportive environment."

Shafer said she knew Myiah Hutchens before coming to Texas Tech because she actually taught her at Washington State University. Hutchens was an undergraduate while Shafer was a graduate student.

After only a few months since being at Texas Tech, Shafer says the university has grown on her.

"I've been very impressed with my students," Shafer said. "They're very eager to learn and to apply their knowledge. On the teaching side, it's been wonderful."

"The school has a great reputation in mass communications so I wanted to be at a good program, and I think I've landed in one," Shafer said.

New Journalism Professor Uses International Background In Her Work
By: Andrew Hart, photo by Tarryn Lambert

Dr. Lily Luo Because of living, working and going to school in multiple countries, Yunjuan Luo has taken her extensive international experience and applied it to her research and teaching.

Luo earned her bachelor's degree in English from Hunan University before going to Singapore to receive her master's degree in mass communication from Nanyang Technological University.

She journeyed to the United States in order to pursue her doctoral degree at Indiana University while serving as an associate instructor, teaching News Writing and Visual Communications.

Luo currently resides in West Texas and teaches at Texas Tech University because she felt Texas Tech had good journalism and communication programs, excellent facilities, and a collegial working environment.

The spirit of Texas Tech's environment was another driving factor for Luo to teach and conduct research here.

"I can feel passion and dedication in this school, and I feel that people here really like Texas Tech," Luo said. "I feel that I'm a passionate and dedicated person so I definitely fit into this culture."

While at Texas Tech, Luo has already begun to utilize her international background in her work. Creating a classroom environment and class activities that promote intellectual diversity is her desire.

"I want to create a dynamic environment where my students can share different perspectives and where they can have discussions from different views," Luo said. "I hope that I can promote the international perspective. We should be thinking about our role in the world and how we can make it better."

She uses the same mentality in her research, where she focuses on political communication, international communication, new media and communication theory.

Recently, Luo has been interested in the political and social impact of new media in Asian countries. Her current project is based on her dissertation about the influence of online public opinion on media coverage and government policy in China.

"I want to investigate how Chinese people use communication technologies to express their opinions and engage in public affairs so they can have some influences on media coverage and government policy," Luo said. "I'm fascinated by the results of how Chinese people can use new media like blogs or online bulletin boards to engage in public affairs."

In 2009, Luo was the recipient of the Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-Financed Student Abroad. She also received the Grant-in-Aid of Doctoral Research Award at Indiana University.

Unexpected Career Path Leads To Teaching
By: Andrew Hart, photo by Tarryn Lambert

Dr. Kelly Kaufhold The Dayton, Ohio, native, Kelly Kaufhold, has been involved in the communications industry ever since he took a college internship one summer in Kansas City, Mo., at the local news station KMBC-TV.

Kaufhold was originally pre-law, studying criminal justice before his older sister convinced him to intern at the Kansas City television station where she was working.

"I thought to myself, 'Yeah, I'll go hang out in Kansas City, that would be fun. When I got out there I had a blast," Kaufhold said. "I got to report on a lot of stories and I taught myself how to use the machine that produced sports scores and the weather forecasts."

When Kaufhold got back to the University of Dayton, he ended up changing his major to communications and was immediately hired at the local ABC affiliate.

"It was pretty much an accident how I got into communications, and I have been doing it ever since," Kaufhold said. "My mom was right, I should have always been a writer."

While working as the manager of media relations at the University of Miami, Kaufhold returned to school for a master's degree, then earned a Ph.D. at the University of Texas.

Now a professor for the College of Media & Communication at Texas Tech University, Kaufhold teaches the classes Digital News Packaging and Multiplatform News Delivery.

"One of the things that attracted me to Tech was that it had a free-standing College of Media & Communication," Kaufhold said. "You can really focus on your work, research and teaching because of that. But they are also pursuing this Tier-One status, and it's a real chance for me to come in and be aggressive in research."

Kaufhold had many reasons for coming to Texas Tech, and staying in the state of Texas was definitely one of them.

"I just loved the people that I met here," Kaufhold said. "Lubbock is a lot bigger and urban compared to where I'm from. I'm really enjoying Lubbock and it also reminds me of home."

When considering his teaching style, Kaufhold jokingly said, "It's a big tutorial." He said his teaching philosophy stems from when he took a graduate school class at the University of Miami.

"My professor came into class one day and asked the students, 'What's your end goal for this class?' The students responded, 'To get an A.' He said no, it's not to get an A. He blurted out, 'It's knowledge! You're here to hopefully learn something.'"

At that time, Kaufhold said it was an epiphany for him. He goes into every class with a mission statement that consists of having an overall goal of what skill sets his students must learn. Ultimately, he wants his students to have a portfolio at the end of their class that will help them in their job search.

Kaufhold's word of advice is to always listen to your mother and in his case, she was spot on. He always belonged in the world of communications.

BBC Takes Its Broadcast to West Texas
By: Andrew Hart, Photo by Melissa Wofford

Dr. Kent Wilkinson When Derrick Ginter received a phone call from the BBC on an early morning on Sept. 15, he had only a few hours to find someone to comment on the topic of the impact of the Mexican drug wars on the community.

Although Lubbock is not a town along the Texas-Mexico border, KOHM-FM happened to be the closest network affiliate the BBC had to the Mexican border. Ginter is general manager of KOHM-FM, and is the local host during National Public Radio's "Morning Edition."

"The call came in the same day they wanted to broadcast so I had maybe four hours notice before air time, but I wasn't about to let an opportunity with the BBC go to waste," Ginter said.

A couple of faculty were recommended to Ginter. Among the ones chosen to talk on the program were Jorge Zamora and Kent Wilkinson from the College of Media & Communication.

Wilkinson, the Regents Professor in Hispanic and International Communication, had lived in Mexico and South America prior to his time at Texas Tech. He is also an electronic media and communications professor in the College of Media & Communication.

"I was pleased that Ginter had enough confidence in me to share my opinion and to represent the university in a way since I was introduced as faculty here," Wilkinson said.

One topic mentioned was that social media was now being used by the drug cartels in Mexico to locate, squash and terrorize their opposition. Another of the discussions covered in the program was the violence in Mexico and the terrible repercussions that come as a result.

"Families are still feeling the effects of friends in the Mexican-American community where a lot of people know somebody that has been affected by the violence," Wilkinson said.

"Having lived there, knowing friends there, and being such an important trade neighbor with the United States are a lot of the reasons why we should be paying attention to what's happening on the border," Wilkinson said.

Even though the opportunity of being on the BBC program was spur-of-the-moment, Wilkinson adapted accordingly and was able to provide great input.

"That's one of the reasons why faculty and people studying a particular area try to keep up with the news day-to-day," Wilkinson said. "We need to sometimes be able to offer an opinion or perspective on short notice."

Both Zamora and Wilkinson covered the topic thoroughly and were able to give noteworthy input.

"It was an excellent program, and their contributions were significant I think," Ginter said.

To listen to the complete version of the BBC program, visit

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