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April 2013


Intern Spotlight: Taylor Shofner
by Stephanie Derkowski, photo by David Vaughn

In the entertainment industry, getting your foot in the door all depends on whom you know and what chances you take. Taylor Shofner, senior advertising and electronic media and communications dual major from Lubbock, is a living example of that.

National Assocation of Television Program Executives Logo

In late January, Shofner was an intern for the National Association of Television Program Executives held at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami, Fla. The conference is a meet-up of television executives, producers, agencies, and others from all over the world. They come to the conference once a year to buy, sell and pitch television shows and technology for the entertainment industry.

Shofner said he was one of 40 interns selected from the nation. Shofner said to apply, he sent in his resume, a cover letter, and a recommendation letter written by his professor Robert Peaslee, Ph.D., assistant professor in the College of Media & Communication and who has attended the conference before.

The conference lasted three days, and Shofner said the interns arrived the weekend before to prepare for the high-profile attendees to arrive by preparing gift bags and setting up rooms. Once the conference began on Monday, Shofner said he and the other interns had many tasks, such as handing out gift bags, directing guests where to go, and delivering messages.

Shofner said one of the coolest parts was being able to work at the presentations of panels made up of very successful people in the entertainment industry.

“These panels that we were able to witness were just fascinating because all of these really successful people, anyone from YouTube channel CEOs to show runners from “Lost” and “Walking Dead” had a talk together and that was fascinating.” Shofner said, “So much talent in that room, they were such great talks to listen to.”

Taylor Shofner

Taylor Shofner

Shofner said another valuable experience was the networking opportunities. He said if you are going into the entertainment industry success is all about who you know and the relationships you have with people.

“Networking is the name of the game, that's the biggest reason why they allowed us to be there,” Shofner said. “They let us even go to the after-parties, just full of these program executives. You have your business card and just start introducing yourself to everyone.”

Shofner said some chances are pure luck. He said a woman walked up to him and they started talking, soon to find out she was Ben Silverman’s mother, who is a big-time producer for shows such as “The Office,” “Ugly Betty,” and many others. Shofner said he was introduced to him by his mother, and he was able to speak and network with the famous producer.

Another great opportunity from the internship, Shofner said, was being able to escort some well-known producers around the conference. He said his roommate was assigned to escort John Langley, creator of the television show “Cops,” and another one of his friends escorted the creator of the show “Modern Family.”

Shofner said one of the most valuable tools he gained from his experience was making friendships with the other interns working at the conference.

“Being there with all of these other interns who are driven and motivating and inspiring, and we were all working so hard throughout these few days that we have together,” Shofner said. “We’re all looking to enter the entertainment industry in one way or another. There are some already who have a foot in the door, and I get advice from them, so it’s very valuable in terms of the friends I made.”

Shofner said to make a good impression when applying for internships, make sure to have a great resume, work on your cover letter and make it professional, and cultivate good relationships with your professors, particularly the professors who have the same interests as you.

For Shofner, that relationship was with Peaslee. Shofner said he would always go to him asking for help and advice, and in return, Peaslee has written him a good recommendation letter and pointed him in the right direction.

“If you are going into the entertainment industry, it is absolutely all about who you know,” Shofner said, “and never turn down an opportunity to go out and meet new people.”

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Major Spotlight: Journalism
by Stephanie Derkowski, photos by David Vaughn and Melissa Wofford
Journalism

Journalism is the legacy major of the College of Media & Communication. Todd Chambers, Ph.D., chair for the journalism and electronic media and communication department, said that for decades the journalism program has helped establish what the college is today.

The journalism program has produced many outstanding alumni, including: Scott Pelley, CBS Nightly News anchor and 60 Minutes correspondent; Tod Robberson, Dallas Morning News editorial writer and Pulitzer Prize winner; Linda Rutherford, vice president of communication and strategic outreach at Southwest Airlines; and many others.

Chambers said the journalism program curriculum focuses on training responsible, innovative storytellers. He said a big part of the responsibility comes from being objective and ethical and is one of the good things the program teaches its students.

“The reality is, is that journalism is not dying.” Chambers said, “Newspapers are changing, television news is changing, but that doesn't make journalism less important.”

Something that makes the journalism program unique, Chambers said, is that there is a spirit of entrepreneurship that really emphasizes students creating their own media brand.

“What media brand means is we want students to feel like they can use our coursework, but they can also use our facilities to create new, innovative news products, like the Double T Insider.”

The Double T Insider is one example where a group of students began a weekly program and is now being picked up by a Midland, Texas, television station. The sports broadcast is completely produced by students who find stories, interview people, and develop the video and audio work.

Broadcast Studio

COMC TV Studio

“Another thing we do really well here is train our students from a multiplatform perspective,” Chambers said. “We want our students to be able to tell a story with audio, video, photography, it’s really a true multimedia experience.”

Chambers said many job opportunities require, and employers are looking for, students who can do traditional journalism positions such as reporting, producing, editing, as well as social media, web design and blogging. Chambers said one of the key skills employers are looking for is a student who can write and know how to use appropriate grammar, spelling and punctuation.

“One of the big things right now is a lot of people are looking for journalists who can take stories out of data and make them visually attractive,” Chambers said, “So you have some data visualization type of jobs that are opening up for our majors.”

Chambers said some key characteristics that make a good journalism major would be to be a good writer, be creative, be ethical, have an entrepreneurial spirit, be responsible and innovative, and ultimately to be a storyteller.

Chambers said appreciating the role journalism has played in the world and will play in the future is something very important.

“Journalism is a legacy major, and because of that legacy, the importance of knowing how to write and knowing how to tell the story to the right audience in the most effective format for that audience,” Chambers said, “that’s what journalism is about.”

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Double T Insider
Video by Ben Jarvis and Blake Silverthorn


This video has been produced as part of The College of Media & Communication's e-newsletter, Converging News. The newsletter is written by students and presents information about the college and other items of interests to all staff, faculty, students and alumni. If you would like to receive the newsletter, you may subscribe online by clicking here.


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Professor Spotlight: Glenn Cummins, Ph.D.
by Morgan Spruiell, photo by David Vaughn

Glenn Cummins, Ph.D., from Forest, Miss., recently was promoted with tenure to associate professor for the College of Media & Communication. Cummins is the director of the Center for Communication Research and frequently teaches undergraduate and graduate classes as well. This professional has a wide range of work experience in the industry as a videographer, editor, and news producer. He also managed online content for a network-affiliated television station and served as a research associate and conducted national analysis of cable news.

“I came out here for a couple of reasons: No. 1 is I knew a couple of people who were already teaching here. I knew Dr. Chambers, Dr. Callison and I’d heard good things about Tech, and really it was just a good fit between what they were looking for and what I was looking for. They wanted someone who could teach video production but also had an interest in a research career.”

Glenn Cummins, Ph.D.

Glenn Cummins, Ph.D.

Cummins attended the University of Southern Mississippi for his bachelor’s degree in radio, television and film and then continued to earn his master’s degree from the University of Alabama. After he earned his master’s degree, Cummins worked in television news before going back to the University of Alabama for his doctorate.

His favorite class to teach is EMC 3310, Introduction to Electronic Media and Communication. “So many people overlook this course and to me it's the most exciting because when I teach it, it reminds me of why I started studying this to begin with as an undergrad,” Cummins said. “I'm interested in electronic media; I’m interested in how people use them and technology and the evolution of technology and all the things that really wind my clock are a part of that course.”

“A lot of what I do is in the realm of sports media and generally you can describe it all as a study of how production techniques impact how people view a game. I’ve done a lot of studies looking at different camera perspectives and how people say they feel about these production techniques, and how they physiologically respond to some of these techniques,” said the director of the Center for Communication Research.

Cummins has experience that reaches as wide as the color spectrum. Advice he would give to incoming freshmen would be to, “Keep your mind open to a lot of different career paths. A lot of people come in with a very specific idea like, ‘I want to be a TV news reporter or I want to be a filmmaker,’ you know they have very specific things in mind, and it’s great to be focused and have some sort of career goal, but one of the things we try to do here is open people’s minds to the fact there’s a lot of different careers than just what you’re thinking about.”

In five years Cummins said he hopes to continue growing better students and be able to work with them and help them achieve their career goals. The associate professor quoted a line from the movie “Vanilla Sky” that reads, “Every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around,”and he said, “which to me is just kind of a reminder to not squander your life, your time, be active and go out and do; fulfill your dreams you have, and don’t waste time.’”

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Get to Know Your Adviser Q & A: Miranda Russell, Public Relations
photo by David Vaughn
Miranda Russell

Miranda Russell

Where are you from?

Seminole, Texas, which is an hour southwest of Lubbock.


Where did you go to college?

Texas Tech! I actually went to South Plains College for a year on a music scholarship, then transferred to New Mexico for two years, and then I came to Tech my senior year and graduated from here.


What was your major?

Human sciences and human development and family studies.


What is your favorite Texas Tech tradition?

Probably my most favorite would be the Masked Rider coming onto the field before the football games.


What are your hobbies?

I play guitar, sing, make jewelry, and basically just hang out with friends and family.


What is your favorite part about advising?

I like being able to help people, more specifically students, but I also like how my days are never the same. I like having diversity in the day in terms of, I do the same things and I tell the same students to take certain classes, but the day-to-day ins-and-outs are completely different. I also really, really love orientation when all the new students come in and we tell them about the college.


What advice do you have for incoming Tech students?

I would say to not overdo it the first semester, maybe even the first year. In terms of classes, build a relationship with your adviser and be familiar with your degree and always know what’s to come in your degree plan.

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