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School of Mass Communication

Alum Jason Irby Continues to Give Back to UALR

SMC alum Jason Irby, who generously established an annual scholarship for graduate students in 2003, is continuing to support the university by contributing part of the proceeds of his new book, Love Within Life: A Book of Life’s Shared Experiences, to the scholarship to bring it to endowment level.

Irby has fond memories of his time in the radio-TV film study and in the journalism graduate program. After completing his undergraduate degree in 1986, Irby returned to UALR, completing a master’s degree in 2004.  Irby has worked at United Parcel Service for more than two decades. “It’s always good to see a campus you’ve graduated from continue to succeed and grow,” he said. Irby appreciates receiving letters from beneficiaries of his scholarship. “I’m not a millionaire,” he said. “I’m a regular guy, but I’d like to reach millions.” Irby’s book, too, may reach millions, as it may be purchased through Amazon.com.

Updated 5.9.2012

SMC Students Win College Media Association Awards

The Forum, UALR’s student newspaper, took away 22 awards, including third place in the Newspaper General Excellence category, at the Arkansas College Media Association’s 2012 Conference hosted by UALR on Friday, April 20. A number of SMC students are Forum staff members.

In other general excellence categories, News Editor Ricky Harris was named Designer of the Year; Cameron Moix, assistant news editor, took second for Reporter of the Year; Matt Johnson, sports editor, won second for Photographer of the Year; and Jennifer Ellis, executive editor, won third for Editor of the Year.

Ellis also took two first-place awards in the newspaper categories Meeting and Speech Coverage for “Student government closes meeting despite protest” and News Photo for “Police looking for clues in death of slain student.”

The Forum Focus, the student newspaper’s first-ever special edition magazine, also took home several awards including first place for Magazine Contents Page Design. Features Editor Melissa Ibbotson won first place in Magazine Non-Fiction Writing for her story “Filming for a cause.” The Forum Focus swept the Magazine Photography category, with McNiel placing first and third, and Ellis taking second. The Forum adviser, pictured with the group, is Professor Sonny Rhodes.
Source: The Forum

Updated 5.9.2012

Radio-TV Journalism Major Promoted at KUAR-FM

Radio-Television Journalism major Michael Hibblen in March was promoted to assignment editor at KUAR-FM, the university’s National Public Radio station. He has had a varied career in broadcasting in medium-sized and larger markets. In addition to his longtime work on KUAR, he also appears regularly on AETN’s “Arkansas Week,” a program that explores the week’s news.

“I started as a DJ in Arkansas, made the transition to news through an internship at C-SPAN, spent 12 years in Miami working for CBS News and the Miami Herald before returning home to Little Rock,” he said.

Hibblen loves news, but also enjoys other kinds of media work and programming. “For about a year in 1994, in addition to my regular show on KABF, I hosted a beat poetry and spoken word program,” he said. ” I took every opportunity to interview some of my favorite writers and poets, including Allen Ginsberg when he gave a reading in Arkansas.”

Hibblen embodies the multi-platform journalism that has emerged in the last 15 years as stations have had cutbacks and an increased need for flexibility with staff tasks related to audio, video, the Web, and photojournalism.

He enjoys photography, and is minoring in it at UALR. “While I love the convenience and quality of digital cameras, nothing compares to the look of black and white film,” Hibblen said. “Many years back I put together a few galleries, focusing on some of the more consistent topics I shot over the years. I’ve enjoyed my current class, learning how to use more professional-grade equipment and how good photos can be perfected.”

After 24 years as a news professional, Michael Hibblen is on track to graduate from UALR by December, 2012, realizing an educational dream that he has worked hard to achieve.

Updated 5.9.2012

Chris Ross is Photojournalist for Todays THV

SMC alum Chris Ross enjoys his videography and editing work at Little Rock’s CBS affiliate, Today’s THV, where he has worked for about a year. In addition to being a witness to history at central Arkansas news events, Ross sometimes returns to his alma mater, such as when he videotaped the SMC banquet in April.

Finding himself among familiar faces and lots of friends on April 11, Ross said he misses the university, but also enjoys working in an energetic newsroom where his co-workers are “the nicest people in the world.”  Ross learned about the newsroom several years ago when he took part in internship work at KTHV, meshing skills learned in the broadcast journalism and production classes with lessons mastered on the job under deadline conditions.

Updated 5.9.2012

Boateng, Zacher, and Weekley Earn Promotions

Dr. Kwasi Boateng and Dr. Dale Zacher have each received tenure and promotion to associate professor, beginning in the next school year. Mr. David Weekley was promoted to senior instructor.

Dr. Boateng teaches Web design and graduate classes, oversees SMC’s online “The Rock Reporter,” and coordinates assessment activities, among other responsibilities. He came to UALR in Fall 2006.

Dr. Zacher joined UALR in January, 2007. He teaches electronic media skills classes and is coordinator of the journalism graduate program, which serves about 20 graduate students.

Mr. Weekley teaches production and design classes and supervises mission-critical video production work related to the UALR Trojans and other organizations.

Updated 5.9.2012

Students Publish First-Ever Forum Focus

The Forum staff, whose members include many students from the School of Mass Communication, published the first-ever Forum Focus magazine this spring. Two articles focus specifically on the work of students in two classes in the School of Mass Communication.

forum_magazine.pngThe magazine highlights some of the contributions by people in the campus community who have worked to bring awareness to and combat the issues of hunger and poverty.

“Working on The Forum we regularly see efforts by groups on campus to make a difference in the lives of the hungry and impoverished,” said Jennifer Ellis, executive editor. “So, creating a magazine that allowed us to focus on what we thought were valiant efforts seemed like a great way to challenge ourselves. It turned out to be a lot more work than we expected, but we are happy with the results. We hope to turn The Forum Focus into an annual publication in which we can highlight other important topics.”

Sonny Rhodes, Forum adviser, had high praise for the students’ efforts. “It was an ambitious project,” he said, “especially given that their work on the Focus was in addition to the many hours they put it in each week on The Forum. But they succeeded exceedingly well. I could not be prouder of them.”

Updated 3.21.2012

SMC Scholarship and Awards Luncheon April 11

The UALR School of Mass Communication Scholarship and Awards Luncheon will be held at noon April speed.png11 at the UALR Donaghey Student Center, meeting rooms B and C. Student tickets are available in advance for $15 through the SMC office. Other guests will pay $18. Administrative assistant Fleta Watson will take reservations at (501) 569-3250 or via e-mail at fmwatson@ualr.edu. Attendees should make reservations by April 2, and then may pay at the door. Checks should be made payable to the UALR School of Mass Communication.

The annual event is intended to recognize SMC’s best students and friends of the School of Mass Communication through Meritorious Service Awards.

Updated 3.21.2012

Giese and Weekley Win College Excellence Awards

Each year the College of Professional Studies gives Faculty Excellence Awards in three categories—teaching, public service, and research—and this year SMC faculty are taking home two of those awards. The winners are Dr. Mark Giese and Professor David Weekley, and they are eligible for university-wide honors in April.

2Dr. Giese, who teaches production courses primarily, and who has led the Summer Media Camp activity that brings high schoolers to UALR, has won in the public service category. Among his other accomplishments are extending UALR’s reach to work with the Arkansas Education Association to help secondary school teachers broaden their technical expertise, coordinating an estimated 50 technology-related seminars, and generously assisting community organizations, in keeping with the spirit of an urban university.

Professor Weekley, a longtime teacher of production courses, winner of 3awards for his own professional work, and supervisor of numerous interns and studio productions, has won in the category of teaching. By involving his students in productions both on campus and off, he has extended the classroom experience by helping students apply concepts and techniques learned there to help clients and organizations complete deadline-based professional projects. This hands-on teaching approach helps students prepare for post-college work in the field.

Other SMC Faculty Excellence Award winners in past years include Dr. Bruce Plopper, winning in all three areas in various years, Professor Sonny Rhodes for teaching, and Dr. Jamie Byrne for public service. Professor Tim Edwards won in the teaching category several times, and Professor Jeanne Rollberg has won in public service twice, also winning the university-wide award.

The Faculty Excellence Awards come with cash awards of $1,000 at the college level, and $5,000+ at the university level. Congratulations to Dr. Giese and Professor Weekley!

Updated 3.21.2012

Motion Picture Curriculum Expanded

A motion picture option has been added to the SMC curriculum to take effect in fall, 2012. Its formation was in response to numerous student requests, recent motion picture activities in Arkansas, and the opportunity to join forces with Pulaski Technical College as PTC begins to offer courses in film and digital content for off-camera professionals.Motion_Graphic.png
Students who finish the new PTC program will be eligible to continue studies with SMC in the motion picture option that will emphasize screenwriting, directing, and cinematic techniques. The new option will fall under the Media Production and Design emphasis in SMC.

Along with the unit’s leadership, Dr. Mark Giese and Professor David Weekley took the lead in strengthening the ties with industry, with the Arkansas Film Commission, and with other educators at PTC and elsewhere during the last several years. SMC has long had a highly successful film minor, and it will build on that minor and its already-existing production courses as it launches the new option that is anticipated to be popular.

Updated 3.21.2012

New Director for SMC: Dr. Olaf Hoerschelmann

Olaf_2008.jpgThe School of Mass Communication is pleased to announce that its new director, as of July 1, will be Dr. Olaf Hoerschelmann, of the Department of Communication Studies of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Ill.

Dr. Hoerschelmann received his doctoral degree in mass communication from Indiana University, his M.A. in communication from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and his B.A. in American Studies from the University of Tubingen, Germany. At EIU, he has been the graduate program coordinator since 2009. He is particularly interested in cultural history of the media, among other research areas.

The former director of the SMC, Dr. Jamie Byrne, is now associate dean of the College of Professional Studies. The unit has been led by interim director Dr. Linda Pledger, faculty emeritus from the UALR Department of Speech Communication, since August, 2011.

Updated 4.19.2012
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