In this issue of Converging News:
John Kirby to Teach Class in Mass Communications
By Nick Stockland, Photo by Kent Sparkman
The recently appointed new general manager of KTXT-TV, Lubbock’s local PBS affiliate, will teach a new elective course in the College of Media & Communication, titled Features and Documentaries.
John Kirby has held numerous broadcasting positions around the country, both behind and in front of the camera, and he brings nearly three decades of broadcast experience to Texas Tech University.
“I have been a reporter and producer on both short-form news stories and long-form documentaries,” Kirby said. “Each presents its own set of challenges. I’ve always enjoyed documentaries because they allow us to tell the whole story and to really sink our teeth into the subject matter.“
Since taking over at KTXT-TV in October of last year, Kirby has received praise from his fellow staff members for making the station reputable. Kirby said he looks forward to improving relations with the Texas Tech community and reaching out to Texas Tech students.
“The big goal we have is to make this television station relevant to Texas Tech and the Lubbock community and to have local programming that will reflect this great university and this great city,” he said.
Kirby’s Features and Documentaries class will be offered in the fall semester from 8-9:20 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays. The course has necessary prerequisites of either EMC 3315 or Journalism 3314.
In the class, students will learn how to write and produce features and documentaries for television, and they will have the opportunity to have their work shown on KTXT-TV.
“I hope the students who take the class will become better writers and learn to think visually,” Kirby said. “With the ‘content is king’ attitude permeating TV and the Internet, there's never been a better time to produce quality documentary programs.”
New Graduate Curriculum
By Morgan Grubbs, Photo Courtesy Coy Callison
The College of Media & Communication’ graduate program has a new and exciting change to its curriculum. The change will benefit the professional track students and ultimately the college as a whole.
The thesis track has not changed other than the elimination of the one-hour pro-seminar course. But, the benefit for the professional track students is that they are now able to complete the program in 12 months. This reduces costs, and if administered properly, maintains the advantages of the program.
Coy Callison, Ph.D., professor and associate dean for graduate students, said the benefit to the college’s graduate program is that the college will be able to better serve the students and subsequently increase enrollment.
“The trend in mass communications M.A. programs has been to move toward more professional development and education as well as making programs more accessible to practitioners,” Callison said. “I believe we are doing that as well with this move.”
Two new additions to the program are important to the new curriculum and more changes are expected to come. Currently, these additions include a digital media class and a final project course.
The digital media class will provide students with the opportunity to expand their marketable skills as well as introduce them to the theory behind proper production. Once the students become familiar with the theory, they will be able to apply that knowledge and understanding to other ventures.
As well, the creation of a final project course will allow students to attain practical experience through practicum and/or internships or applied research projects.
“Instead of students leaving here with only a degree to show prospective employers,” Callison said, “the students of our new program will have the degree and a portfolio and experience to show that they are ready to take charge in this new media environment.”
Liz Gardner To Teach New Special Topics Course in the Fall
By Morgan Grubbs, Photo by Tarryn Lambert
Liz Gardner, Ph.D., will teach a special topics course in the fall, titled Public Relations for Nonprofits. This course will explore how public relations strategies and tactics are used to advance the goals and missions of nonprofit organizations.
Gardner said the class will provide students who are interested in working for a public relations non-profit organization with the tools they need to excel in this field.
“I also plan for the class to be as interactive as possible,” Gardner said, “blending lecture with guest speakers and hands-on application of concepts like media advocacy and corporate social responsibility.”
Also, the course will focus on ways public relations practitioners build and maintain relationships with the media, communities, the government, and other key publics. The course will review approaches to nonprofit public relations, such as emerging media and crisis communication, while considering how nonprofits use strategic campaigns to advance knowledge, attitude, and behavior changes.
Gardner said she believes her passion for socially responsible organizations and public relations will make this course enjoyable and challenging.
“My hope is that students will develop an appreciation for the role of public relations in fostering positive social change.”
Social Media and Public Relations
By Nick Stockland, Photo by Tarryn Lambert
John Wirtz, Ph.D., will teach Social Media and Public Relations, a special topics course offered during the first summer session.
The course emphasizes the strategic advantage of social media and its importance in business, government, and non-profit organizations. Wirtz has taught the class one semester before, and he has received praise from students.
Amy Hogan, Julia Garner, and Kelsey Davidson are all public relations majors. They expressed positive feelings about the class.
“I think it’s a great idea,” Hogan said. “I heard the last time he taught the class, it was a huge hit, it was awesome. Everybody I know who took the class really liked it.”
Davidson said that with the convergence of media, a class that focuses on social media is becoming more important.
“Media is changing,” Davidson said. “People aren’t reading the newspaper everyday, they’re reading twitter feeds. So we need to adapt.”
Garner agreed and said understanding social media is a necessary and a definite priority.
According to a recent report by recruiting agency Korn/Ferry, the ability to understand and use social media is becoming one of the most sought-after skills for new employees.
“A lot of public relations agencies, organizations and businesses are looking to public relations people to take the lead on this,” Wirtz said. “A lot of businesses are talking about social media, how we can use it. I just think it’s a natural fit for the interest of the students.”
Wirtz will teach the class during the Summer I session.