Mass Comm. project blends tech and scholarship

The job of a mass communicator is a moving target. Publications from the Gutenberg Bible to WikiLeaks vary in goal, technology and application but the people in the communications industry create products that impact society—and reflect societal conditions—in ways that are both powerful and sublime. Mass communications educators strive to inculcate students with the responsibility and scope required of such a position, while instilling them with the technical skills they will need to adapt to this changing field they hope to enter. This balancing act often involves a fair amount of creativity.

Professor Riley Maynard, Mass Communications

“I’m trying to take my MC332 students through a project where we will work across the media; we will do audio, web and television reporting,” said Mass Communications Professor Riley Maynard. “The story is ‘An International Christmas.’ I wanted to demonstrate how we have international students at SIUE who have no idea what Christmas is. They’ve only been here a few months; their culture is not familiar with Christmas; and I wanted to show how we are extending hospitality and showing the better side of Christmas.”

Students were assigned to different groups, working on the same project but from the perspective of different media. The final products of this project will be submitted to KMOV, WSIE, SIUE’s Web radio and This Week in CAS.

Dean Aldemaro Romero, SIUE College of Arts and Sciences

“It is not only an interesting piece of scholarship, but a cultural lesson for many about how we should be careful of perceiving peoples attitudes about these types of cultural events” said CAS Dean Aldemaro Romero. “It shows to many of our students the different cultural context for different people. Many of the people who were not raised in this country have a totally different context.”

Senior in mass communications Greg Harvey helped write and produce the radio segment. He already works at WDBR, 103.7 in Springfield, but this production will go on his ‘demo’ reel after graduation — and it could help him get an internship at a big market station.

“It helped to understand how to write it for the web, for radio. For radio, you

Greg Harvey, mass comm senior

can’t always show what you’re trying to convey — you have to be more descriptive,” Harvey said. “The project makes me more well rounded. And I got to submit it to WSIE. Whether or not they use it, it feels nice to produce quality work that might see a real audience.”

“I wrote the entire internet piece, got quotes, placed them together to describe the story,” said Senior Mass Communications student Daniel Harris. “Not actually having been there for the interviews, taking the information and using it to connect with these kids that are from somewhere else — it was hard, but once you start rolling with it you see the process.”

Harris also has small market experience, having called a couple basketball games for WFIW, Fairfield, Illinois and running his own Web radio show on campus.

Daniel Harris, mass comm senior

“This project shows people that I have the ability to write, that I’m not just a ‘voice talent’ and can compose a serious story, not just sports,” Harris said. “Getting it out on the Internet shows I can write a pretty decent story.”

In addition to learning about the technical and stylistic demands of the industry, Mass Comm. students involved in this project got to look at their own society through the eyes of outsiders. Maynard says there was a surprise benefit from this project as well, one that the international students themselves pointed out to him.

“The students we were interviewing really enjoyed themselves and enjoyed interacting with our Mass Comm. students,” Maynard said. “That was an unexpected advantage we got out of this project.”

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