Category Archives: Inside COM Classrooms

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BU’s College of Communication Pioneers Emerging Media Studies

By Ali Parisi
MS Public Relations ’16
BU College of Communication

Even if you’re not in the communication world, chances are you’ve probably heard at least one conversations discussing new media—social media has changed everything, from interpersonal communication to journalism, and more.  Traditional media may still be around, but new media is quickly growing.  It feels like an absurd amount of media outlets and technologies have come and gone over the past few years, especially with the widespread use of smartphones.  I had to wait till my freshman year of high school to get a chunky old flip phone.  Now, parents are handing iPads and iPhones to their kids before they can even talk!

YLNnbxyzAfter a few years of discussion, BU’s College of Communication finally decided to introduce a one-year Master’s program that focuses solely on new and emerging media.  The MA program, Emerging Media Studies, is one of the first in the nation to do so (go BU!).

One of the primary courses taught within EMS is a collaborative class entitled Extended Group Research Project Seminar.  Quite a mouthful, right?  But the year-long class is not as intimidating as it seems.  According to EMS Director and Professor James E. Katz, Ph.D., the class aims to prepare students to take positions that will be a fast track to leadership in various organizations by helping them to become experts in big data, consumer psychology interaction, and research methods.

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Professor Katz with his Reddit Gifts present.

“Our goal is to mentor students in doing meaningful research relating to emerging media so that when they take their post- graduate positions, they will already know how to do research and will have a portfolio to show employers,” explains Katz.  I may be a PR student, but I already love the sound of this class.  It’s a class that does more than just theoretical and academic discussions.  It’s actually preparing students for the “real world” after graduation.

One of Katz’s students, Katharine Sipio, heartily agrees.  Having majored in both English and Communication Studies at Saint Joseph’s University for undergrad this past spring, Sipio is excited for the possibilities this class has opened up.

“The readings and projects we do not only give us some strong writing samples, but [also] research skills that would be applicable in different types of careers,” says Sipio.  After taking this class, Sipio can see herself going into a “various number of communications careers such as a social media consultant, or maybe even going into PR, media management, copywriting, or exploring the world of digital writing and publishing.”

In addition to Sipio, I was able to talk with two more of Katz’s students, Adrien Park (Syracuse, ’14) and Brittany Anderson (UMASS Lowell, ’14).  All three of them had nothing but good things to say about this class, even describing it as their favorite class of the semester.  Park adds that the class has become somewhat as a family between the students and faculty because it is solely for EMS students.

“The professors and TA’s are extremely caring and helping, giving us a lot of great tips and insight about working on research [projects],” explains Park.

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Next semester, the class will begin working with a project sponsor.  This sponsor will be a local organization for which students will work on a research project that focuses specifically on that organization’s needs – just one more example of how BU is preparing its students for post-graduation careers.

Make sure to follow EMS on Twitter @DEMSatBU and like them on Facebook so you can stay updated on all the happenings within the program!

Does this sound like a program you’d like to learn more about? Tell us why in the comment section below!

Please feel free to ask us any questions you have about the EMS program and be sure to check out or website for more information on all graduate programs offered through BU’s College of Communication

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A look at what happens inside a Broadcast Journalism grad class

By Nikita Sampath
MS Broadcast Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication 

Broadcast Writing/Reporting (Course: JO 707) is a course taught at BU’s College of Communication (COM) that all grad students interested in Broadcast Journalism should take in their first semester. As the title suggests, the course is designed to teach us how to write a story for broadcast news and report on camera.  The course, which is taught by Professor R.D. Sahl, a veteran journalist with 40 years of experience in the field, teaches the main requirements of good story writing. These include: good writing, videography, editing, sound, natural sound and tracking. Timing is of essence too.

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At the start of the semester, JO 707 introduced us to script writing for television broadcast– attention-grabbing, short and simple sentences, with editing and production commands. Each week, we begin class with a discussion of breaking news for the day.  We then spend a considerable amount of time watching and analyzing professional news packages. For an assignment, Prof. Sahl asked us to watch evening news telecast and break it down– number of stories, kinds of packages, whether the reporter was on screen etc. This helped us learn the different ways in which news stories can be broadcast.

As for equipment, we’ve learned to use the JVC 100/150u to shoot our news packages and how to access the recording booth to do our tracking and voice overs. All necessary equipment can be rented (free of cost) from COM’s Field Production Services. Additionally, we use Final Cut Pro X to edit videos. We are very lucky in the fact that this software is available to all students in all editing and Mac computer labs at COM.  It’s great that students don’t have to worry about buying equipment or software of their own.

It’s only been six weeks and the eight of us grad students in the class are capable of producing entire packages by ourselves, one or two of which could be aired with some additional editing.

Check out this news package on the peer-sharing ride Lyft, done by Broadcast Journalism grad student Iris Moore, for last year’s JO 707 class.

One student from JO 707 said, “Prof. Sahl is a meticulous evaluator. Having watched each of our packages several times he was able to give us valuable, detailed feedback so we don’t repeat our amateur mistakes in future packages.”

From JO 707, Prof Sahl says he hopes every student will take-away the following:

  • The best TV stories have strong writing, powerful video and sound, interesting characters and a compelling story line
  • Accuracy is the coin of the realm. Get it right.
  • Deadlines matter. Meet them.
  • Care about the stories you report. It will show in the final product.

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To learn more about the BU’s College of Communication Journalism graduate program, go here. A list of offered Journalism courses can also be found here.  

Have questions? Ask us in the comment section below. Also, be sure to visit our site to learn more about the various graduate programs we offer at COM.

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What it actually means to get a Masters in PR

By Ali Parisi
MS Public Relations ’16
BU College of Communication

What is public relations you ask? Writing.

As a first semester PR grad student, that’s at least how I see it.  In fact, one of my favorite classes this semester has turned out to be Writing for Media Professionals with Professor Dorothy Clark.

In high school, if you had told me that I would end up loving writing, I would have flat out laughed in your face.  Back then, the only type of writing we did was to analyze works of literature.  And if you didn’t agree with the teacher’s analysis, you wouldn’t agree with your grade either.  That type of writing was just not for me.

But this class is the complete opposite.  Instead of writing to agree with someone else, I get to write for my audience (or, as we like to call them in PR, “publics”).  I get to write things that I can actually use in the fabled “real world.”

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For example, one assignment had us write a traditional news release.  To simplify things, Professor Clark had us write about a made-up conference for which she provided all of the information and facts about the hosting organization. That way, we could focus on both prioritizing the information to fit the format of a news release and also on writing in the objective voice, typical of that writing format.

To make this assignment even more hands-on, we also had to do a second, social media version of the news release; honestly, had no idea what a social media news release was before this class, but everyone knows that social media is huge today, and online news is growing faster than traditional media.  This assignment gave me a taste of both and helped me feel like I was actually learning something practical and applicable for my future career in PR.

Another assignment from this class, and easily my favorite so far, was to “create a blog with a focused brand for yourself” (straight from the syllabus).  I really enjoyed this assignment because we were able to write about something that we are truly interested in, rather than being assigned a topic that we don’t care about.  I chose to create a blog that focused on fashion from an athlete’s perspective.  Check it out here (Note: keep in mind that I made this site for the assignment and therefore it may not be perfect! Meaning the social media links don’t actually link to anything, etc.).

Everything we do in this class is up-to-date and tailored to fit the demands of new media.  Aside from the blog and news releases, we’ve also worked with Twitter, created a landing page for an event, and will be working on a feature and slideshow in the next few weeks.  We’re always talking about writing online as being a portal to other information, writing in your voice versus a company’s voice, and more.  Most of our assignments have second drafts, which gives us the chance to review and refine our work after getting criticism.  I feel that this is extremely valuable for the real workplace, where editors are more likely to chop up your work and spit it back at you, demanding a re-write.

If all of my classes in grad school are as engaging and hands on as this one, I have a feeling I’ll be just fine.

Check out the video below of Alumna Sandra Frazier (’01)  as she shares how the Public Relations courses she took at BU helped prepare her for working in the real world. Frazier is CEO of Tandem Public Relations in Louisville, KY.

Think you have better ideas for future PR assignments? Leave a note in the comments below!

Interested in BU’s College of Communication Public Relations graduate program? Ask us any questions in the comment section. Also, be sure to check out our program webpage for more information the various graduate programs we have to offer.  

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NYT Columnist David Carr talks about his first semester as a BU professor

By Michelle Marino
MS Journalism ’15
BU College of Communication

For those lucky enough to attend BU Professor David Carr’s now sold out Fast Forward event at the Tsai Performance Center on October 20, he says it’s one he can genuinely recommend. “We’re both very honest and direct people,” says Carr of himself and event guest Jill Abramson, former Times executive editor. “She doesn’t mince words and I don’t really beat around the bush either.” Carr places most of the spotlight on Abramson, calling her a “ferocious” journalist and anticipates the event being not much different from a talk between the two on the train (Abramson currently teaches at Harvard, just across the river).

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The event will focus on new media and its impact on the field of journalism, both good and bad. Carr, who is currently testing out his first class “Press Play” this semester, teaches BU students the art of making and distributing content. He says the title of professor still hasn’t grown on him, but he trusts it will eventually. “It still kind of freaks me out,” he says. The class is small, with only 16 students and requires a writing sample and selection to get in. Carr says he cast the class to include students with varied backgrounds and expertise, since a lot of focus is placed on co-editing.

He thinks he’s done pretty well so far, and is pleasantly surprised by the students, who he calls “deadly serious.” Although he explains the sunk costs of starting a class are extremely high, he is learning and tweaking as he goes. Some challenges encountered have been balancing great guest speakers with other class activities, and sounding off on ideas that may take longer to implement in reality than in theory.

When asked what the most valuable skill a journalist today can have, Carr says it used to be just about resumes and clips, but now it’s about what can you make with “your own two dirty little hands.” He goes on to explain what he calls the “atomic skill”: “Can you write me 400 clean accurate words in a limited amount of time and find a way to distribute those words?”

In terms of the economy and journalism employment, he says there’s a lot more bounce than there used to be. At a recent event, he saw several companies hiring, something he wasn’t seeing a few years ago. Journalism is a field that’s always been difficult to get into, but Carr feels BU does a good job of exposing students to the waterfront of what they’ll encounter in the real world. “The world doesn’t tolerate tardiness or mediocrity,” he says, which is why he holds his students to a very high standard.

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Having a professor like David Carr at BU’s College of Communication is a real asset to the school, faculty and most of all students. His focus on new media is in the thick of where journalism is right now, and will continue in the future. If you’re interested in being placed on the waitlist for the David Carr and Jill Abramson event on October 20, click here.

Already have your tickets? Tell us in the comment section what you hope to gain from this event!

Interested in learning more about graduate school at BU’s College of Communication? Tell us what program (s) you are interested in and why. Also be sure to visit our homepage to learn more about what COM has to offer!