Texas Tech University

Converging News

May 2014

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In this issue of Converging News:

Dean's Note

Dear Friends of and Colleagues in the College of Media & Communication:

David D. Perlmutter, Ph.D.

Dean David D. Perlmutter, Ph.D.

One of the founders of the scientific study of mass communication famously said that ours is a "platform discipline." That is, we are the only field in the academy that connects or has relevance to all others. With this in view, CoMC has established a new mission to partner with HSTEM (health, science, technology, engineering, math) units across campus in the service of research, grants, and improved communications and teaching about science and health. Our latest initiative is to show off the emphasis Texas Tech puts on safety in the scientific enterprise of discovery. Toward this end, I have asked The Hub, our student news and culture production team supervised by Professor Pete Brewton, to start a series of videos titled "STRIVING FOR SAFETY."

I am delighted to present the first installment featuring the Energetics (Combustion) Lab of Dr. Michelle Pantoya, J. W. Wright Regents Chair in Mechanical Engineering. Dr. Pantoya and her energized team of students were extremely cooperative and enthusiastic subjects. We are proud of the outcome of crossing disciplinary boundaries.

See video (lots of explosions!) over on The Hub@TTU.

We plan to continue shooting other videos featuring different labs around both campuses.


David D. Perlmutter

David D. Perlmutter, Ph.D.
Professor and Dean


College Faculty and Graduate Students Attend International Public Relations Research Conference
by Alicia Thomas, photo courtesy Prisca Ngondo

College of Media & Communication faculty and Ph.D. students traveled to Miami March 5-9 to attend the 2014 International Public Relations Research Conference.

Weiwu Zhang, Ph.D., said the conference is an interactive and intense scholarly exchange devoted to public relations research. It has a unique format, which allows participants to give comments to the presenters, so by the end of the presentation, presenters know what revisions they need to make before submitting their papers for publication.

Zhang and Ph.D. student Alan Abitbol presented a paper titled, "The role of public relations in social capital and civic engagement."

"Social capital is the idea that if you have more connections in your community and are heavily involved in community affairs, then you'll usually make it a better place," Zhang said. "If public relations is about building relationships with target publics, than social capital is a public relations concept."

The following are also papers presented by college participants.

  • Alan Abitbol, "Examining Facebook message strategies during a crisis: A case study of Susan G. Komen's announcement to defund Planned Parenthood."
  • Nicole Lee, "Testing immediate effects of OPR cultivation strategies."
  • Kristi Gilmore, Ph.D., and Sun Lee, Ph.D., "Strategic ambiguity in crisis: Fracking information designed to educate or deceive?"
  • Matthew VanDyke and Harrison Gong, "Does green strategic communication help during environmental crises? The influence of personal involvement and crisis history on company evaluations."

There were also papers presented by recent Ph.D. graduates Dane M. Kiambi, Prisca Ngondo and Clay Craig.

"If being active in research and strategic communication is an area of interest, this is the conference for you," said Zhang, who has attended the conference five times.


College of Media & Communication Learning Community
video by Ben Jarvis

College of Media & Communication undergraduate students discuss the perks of living in the media and communication learning community.


College Hires New Director of Development
by Alicia Thomas, photo by David Vaughn

Shannon Smith

Shannon Smith

After working in the Lubbock community for many years, Shannon Smith joined the Texas Tech University College of Media & Communication on March 10 as the new Director of Development.

Smith said her top three initiatives for her first few months include visiting with faculty, getting into classrooms to experience learning in progress, and reaching out to the College's National Professional Advisory Board to make contacts.

"It's exciting because this role raises money for the College," Smith said. "We raise money to help students fulfill their dreams and get their degrees. We also help faculty with their wish lists, keep the building maintained, rename classrooms, as well as whatever else we can do to enhance the experience at Texas Tech."

Smith's background is in public relations and advertising. She said she has a strong nonprofit background from her experience at the American Red Cross, South Plains Regional Chapter where she worked with the board of directors. Smith said she also served as the Community Relations Manager for United Supermarkets. She also was a teacher in Amarillo, which she said provided a sense of educational background.

Through networking and close ties to the community, Smith said she feels fortunate to have found the opportunity to join the College.

"I've developed a lot of relationships, especially in the past six years, and I know a lot of people here in West Texas," Smith said. "I'm excited because this position will broaden my horizons and network to all around the country. I'm eager to meet new faces."

Smith said she's been working to learn about the College's alumni along with the National Professional Advisory Board to see how these individuals have contributed to the college in the past.

"Not only do I want to start meeting the advisory committee members, but I also want to visit with department chairpersons and faculty to see what students are involved in and where the needs are for faculty and students," Smith said. "I know there are amazing departments and research going on here, so I'm excited to dive in."

The director of development works closely with Dean David D. Perlmutter, and Smith said the two of them have been meeting to create a plan of action. She said her position involves a lot of traveling to share knowledge about what the College is doing and how people can support the College.

Dean Perlmutter said, "Shannon had the charisma, intelligence, sensitivity, experience and integrity we were looking for. I'm sure she will help us keep moving the college mission forward."


For Students, By Students
by Preston Redden, photo courtesy The Hub@TTU

Despite being only two years old, one organization in the College of Media & Communication is already winning regional awards and competing at a national level.

The Hub, established in 2012, is a website for students to easily showcase their work. Pete Brewton, Adviser for The Hub, said the students who work and volunteer there have a large amount of freedom in what they publish.

"The Hub is there to give our students the opportunity to exercise their creative skills," Brewton said. "It gives students the opportunity to publish all of their work in an online forum. It allows students to show everybody what they can do."

The Hub staff members traveled to the Society of Professional Journalists Conference for Region 8 in League City, Texas, last March where The Hub won four awards.

The Hub won Best Independent Online Student Publication overall. Alicia Keene, Abigail Arroyos and Evan Dixon won an Online In-depth Reporting award for an article about asbestos on the Texas Tech campus. Former College of Media & Communication students Sydney Holmes and Claudia Tristán also won awards for Online Feature Reporting and Online News Reporting, respectively.

Brewton said he hopes the recent awards will show that The Hub is successful and should continue.

"I think it has been a worthwhile enterprise," Brewton said. "The students are doing good work. They are winning awards. They are being recognized and having a lot of fun. I hope the faculty and administration of the college recognize this, and I think they do."

Keene, senior journalism major from Austin, Texas, works as the enterprise editor at The Hub. Her award-winning story covered the basics of asbestos, described a few buildings on campus that are abandoned due to asbestos, and compared Texas Tech's situation with asbestos to asbestos situations at other universities.

"We talked about places on campus that are abandoned due to the expense of abatement," Keene said. "Weeks Hall was our main target. We took a tour. They've been trying to do something with it for years. They do not want to knock it down because it is old but the cost of abatement is astronomical."

Keene said the asbestos article was a good opportunity to explain a part of Texas Tech's campus that many students were curious about.

"We showed an interesting building that people couldn't go in so that people don't do it themselves and risk asbestos exposure or criminal activity," she said. "We also had some numbers in there and context behind it. We were persistent and even got asbestos certified in order to tour Weeks Hall."

Keene said The Hub has offered her a chance to showcase some of her classwork. She said she wishes The Hub would have been around earlier in her academic career in order to preserve some of her earlier stories.

"When I was taking intro classes, there wasn't anything to put my stuff in," Keene said. "I wrote a great story in News Writing, and I wanted to publish it somewhere. It is now on my computer at home that crashed and burned. It is nice to have that access now, and I encourage students to submit their work for publication. It is a good thing to look back on as an older journalism student."

Lauren Estlinbaum, senior journalism major from Pearland, Texas, works as the entertainment director at The Hub. Estlinbaum has been part of The Hub since it was just a concept two years ago.

"I'm one of the few members who helped start it," Estlinbaum said. "The Hub is an online student publication showcase. Anyone in the college or Texas Tech can submit his or her own work to be published. It does not matter if you've written something, you've made a video, or you have art to display. You name it; we will publish it, if it is worth publishing."

"The Hub is interesting because we get to put our own spin on it," Estlinbaum said. "Yes, we have advisers and are under the College of Media & Communication, but, we get to do what we think matters. There is definitely more room for creativity."

Estlinbaum said the recent awards have given The Hub exposure and an opportunity to prove itself.

"This definitely helps us say that we are worth the time," Estlinbaum said. "Just give us a chance and visit the website. We can do good things."

Keene said she hopes students in the college realize the benefits of having an organization like The Hub on campus. Keene said she hopes more students take advantage of The Hub and that she is willing to help any students who want to publish their work.

"We are here not only to be a publication," Keene said. "We are here for the students, as well. Some of the stuff I have produced has been from my classes, and I have also produced things for other students. Whether it is News Writing or Reporting, they will send their stuff in, and I will help edit it and put it on there so people can get published."

The Hub will compete for the national title of Best Independent Online Student Publication this fall.


The Outpost Social Media Lab Partners with Relay For Life For Second Year
by Alicia Thomas, photo by David Vaughn

The Texas Tech American Cancer Society Relay For Life event took place April 12-13. For the second year in a row, The Outpost Social Media Lab in the College of Media & Communication partnered with the event to promote conversation through social media platforms.

Kristin Wyllys, the graduate student social media lab manager, ran contests from The Outpost and monitored what people were saying. She said contests included encouraging teams or individuals to tweet responses, post photos and create videos all using the #RaidersFight hashtag.

This year's Relay For Life theme was Reality Television Shows. Wyllys said The Outpost created a mascot called The Director who was at the event promoting social media participation.

Students posing for a photo with The Director and members of The Outpost.

members of The Outpost take photos of students
posing with The Director.

Katelynne Newman, content manager, said she was part of the field team who went back and forth from the event at Urbanovsky Park to The Outpost all night.

“I was in charge of making sure The Director was where he needed to be and making sure he and the various contests we had running during the event were being promoted,” Newman said. “Being out in the field is pretty fast-paced. You have to be ready for anything, and make sure you're getting accurate information before you post it.”

Newman said she particularly remembers the Health Sciences booth because they were all dressed up as sharks for their theme, Shark Tank. The team entered the contests and had questions about The Outpost.

“It was great to see a group so involved. I hope next year is even bigger and better,” Newman said.

Wyllys said she especially enjoys working at The Outpost during events like Relay For Life because many students volunteer to work with The Outpost team.

“I obviously love social media, and I like being able to teach the students in the college how to learn the monitoring program, HootSuite. Events are always the most fun because they're for a long period of time and you get to monitor for longer than usual.”

Both Wyllys and Newman said they hope the event continues to grow and that The Outpost can promote and reach more students every year.


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