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Journalism grad students showcase all they’ve learned from BU’s College of Communication

By Michelle Marino
MS Journalism ’15
BU College of Communication

On the last day of classes for the Fall 2014 semester, 13 of BU’s College of Communication (COM) journalism graduate students presented their professional projects at the Journalism Graduate Showcase.  Students, faculty, friends and family filled the room on COM’s second floor to support those who were presenting.

Print, photo and broadcast were just few of the many journalism mediums showcased at the event. The projects were diverse in content, offering a wide-range of stories that have never been told, such as an interactive multimedia website that take readers on a storytelling journey along Boston’s Mass. Ave. and a five-part video and article series about BU’s archeology research around the world (see video excerpt below).


Graduate student Amy Laskowski (COM ’15) uncovers the sercrets of the Three Cranes Tavern as part of her BU archeology research series. Video by Bill Politis.

Katie Tamola (COM ’15), a Print Journalism grad student who presented on her written self-harm project, says she took a great deal from the experience of her professional project and offers advice for those yet to begin the process: “I took so much from it,” she says. “This was a topic that affected me and I was curious and passionate about it. Pick something that means something to you, something that makes you think. This is your baby, and it becomes your life. Choose a professor who will challenge you but who really gets you, one you’ve had a class with or formed a good relationship with. The experience is demanding but makes you such a better journalist.” Check out experts from Tamola’s project here.

Saba Aziz (COM ’15), also in the Print Journalism grad program, wrote a piece on the history of the Longwood Cricket Club and maintenance of their grass tennis courts. Tennis is something that is close to Aziz’s heart, as she was Pakistan’s number one women’s player and a Federation Cup team member. She comments on the importance of solid reporting when completing the project: “For me personally, this was the longest piece I’d ever done at BU. When you’re doing something that’s written with not a lot of visual, the more reporting you can do to get the narrative and details the better.” View the photo slideshow here.

Along with reflections on the experience and advice on completing the project, Samantha Mellman (COM ’15), creator of “The Never Forget Project“, an interactive multimedia site documenting Holocaust survival stories, stresses the critical role of journalism in bringing stories to life. “As a journalist I think we’re playing a part in helping the world,” says Mellman. “It takes one great story to create a domino effect. Even talking about the Holocaust, which seems very removed from us now, seeing those people on screen, it makes it that much more real.


Lucy Jacobs is a Auschwitz Holocaust survivor who re-tells the horrors she struggled to live through as part of Mellman’s “The Never Forget Project.”

 For those of us who have yet to complete the project, it will surely be an intensive but rewarding process. Andre Khatchaturian (COM ’16), a Broadcast Journalism grad student, says although he knows what he will do his professional project on, he’s still marveled at the presentations. “A lot of people have put a lot of work into this,” says Khatchaturian. “The one I was most involved with was Ashley Davis [COM '15]‘s project on the 2014 midterm election coverage. I was a national desk reporter for that. To see the final product was awesome. They’re all very interesting topics. I learned a lot about a variety of things. Journalism is cool in that sense – you don’t have to specialize in a specific topic. You can tell all kinds of stories.”

According to Associate Professor Susan Walker, this is the second year of the Graduate Showcase, and will be an annual event the last week of classes in December. “Students gain from presenting, succinctly, a topic into which they’ve done a deep dive,” says Walker. “It is an opportunity to seed ideas for other students pursuing a project as well as a chance to demonstrate the craft they’ve learned here at COM.” Since graduate students finish mid-year and often can’t return for graduation ceremonies, it’s also a chance for them to get together and celebrate their hard work. In the future, Professor Walker’s hope is to invite more people, including potential employers and prospective grad students. “Nothing sells our graduate journalist program better than our students and their work,” says Walker.

Be sure to check out some of the other professional projects here.

Interested in learning more about BU’s College of Communication Journalism graduate program? Make sure to visit our website here. You can also find more information about all graduate programs offered through COM here.

 

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Advertising grad students win poster competition and trip to San Francisco

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

“The rate at which women are amassing wealth and exerting influence is unprecedented. Yet the work that is supposed to motivate them springs almost entirely from a male perspective. The advertising business is a $33 billion industry. Misunderstanding female consumers, from a business perspective, is sheer lunacy.” - Kat Gordon

As an advertising copywriter and creative director, Kat Gordon was tired of being a part of an industry lead by males.  She discovered that only 3% of creative directors within the advertising industry are women. So, she set out to create the 3% Conference in order to teach men and women in agencies and on the client side how to address these issues in new ways and offer something that has been sorely lacking for female creatives: a sense of community.  Today, two years after its first conference in 2012, the 3% Conference has expanded into a “2-day, 400 person event in San Francisco, multi-city road shows throughout the year, a vibrant online community on multiple social platforms, a student scholarship fund, a creative award, and a business blog to support the crusade,” according to its website.

Cindy Gallop, closing keynote speaker at the 2014 conference.

Cindy Gallop, closing keynote speaker at the 2014 conference.

This year, two of BU’s College of Communication advertising graduate students earned a trip to this year’s conference in San Francisco after winning the 3% student competition.   This year’s creative challenge was to imagine that the ratio of female-to-male Creative Directors has increased 300%. Working in teams of two, students had to create a poster to announce this news to the industry to motivate folks to attend the conference and keep the movement going.  Iona Holloway (COM ’16) and Annie Papadellis (COM ’16) were one of the top 10 winners (20 students total since they worked in pairs) to win the competition.

Holloway and Papadellis’s winning submission.

Holloway and Papadellis’s winning submission.

“I think it’s great,” explains Holloway and Papadellis’ professor at COM, Pegeen Ryan. “It’s very real life.  You’re going to be entering award shows and competitions when you’re in agencies. It gives you real and fairly tight deadlines; it gives you stipulations on what you’re working on. Kudos to them for taking on the extra work.”

Ryan worked with both of her students throughout the entire process, helping them to edit and perfect their ideas for submission.  The two were ultimately declared one of 10 pairs of winners from distinguished schools around the country, Brown University, Miami Ad School NY, University of Texas, Miami Ad School SF, Missouri School of Journalism and City College of New York. Besides tickets to The 3% Conference in San Francisco, winners also received a travel stipend, a gift bag from their sponsor Adobe and attendance at a portfolio review lunch during the conference.

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Sarah Granger, author of The Digital Mystique, speaks at conference. Photo credit 3% Conference.

“The conference was great,” says Holloway.  “It reinforced how I’m really going to have to kick my own ass if I want to really succeed as a woman in the industry, which I don’t see as a bad thing.”

Prof. Ryan was particularly excited about the networking opportunities for the young women.  The students were able to network with people from across the country, giving them contacts to potentially use in their job search after graduation.

Though the numbers have risen, there is still inequality in the advertising industry.  “It’s amazing to me that the majority of consumer are women, and more men are creating the advertising that these women see,” explains Papadellis. “It baffles me they still haven’t changed their approach,” she says.

However Holloway is excited for the future, as she believes “Women are brilliant, as are men. There’s no reason why the advertising industry can’t reflect the society it serves. It might take a while, but it will happen.”

 

 

Guest blogger: PR grad student shares her first semester experience at COM

By Becca Liudzius
MS Public Relations ’16
BU College of Communication

The halls of BU’s College of Communication (COM) are much quieter now that everyone has settled into what many consider the most stressful week of all—finals week. Lucky for me, and for most other COM grad students, my semester ended last Wednesday with the last day of classes. No, I did not have final exams, but yes, I did have four (that’s right, four!) final presentations within a three-day stretch. As I sat back in my desk last Wednesday night after my Writing for Media Professionals final presentation, I breathed a sigh of relief. I was finally done with all my work. I had successfully completed my first semester of graduate school.

Now, don’t let me confuse you… this semester wasn’t just all stress and no fun. Sure, the adjustment from being an undegrad to a studious “adult” in graduate school was difficult, especially when it happened all in one year, but my first semester as a Public Relations grad student at BU has overall been an incredible experience.

Some of the hi934808_10203805522673568_1393775127967161284_nghlights of my semester include:

My first weekend: What better way to start the semester than with Boston Calling (a three-day music festival on City Hall Plaza in the heart of Boston). I went with a couple of my friends and it was an awesome experience! Despite us having to evacuate for a couple hours due to a severe thunderstorm, we still got to see Lorde and Childish Gambino.

My Professors: This has been the first semester of my life that I have genuinely liked all of my professors. All four have been so helpful and knowledgeable.  I am so grateful to have such great mentors as I embark upon my grad school journey.

Group projects: Yes, group projects!  A task I absolutely despised in undergrad has become a lot more bearable, even fun at times. Group projects are now an experience where I can look forward to input and collaboration from my peers, and not worry about having to do all of the work myself.

Cooking: Having always had a meal plan at my undergrad, I never really learned to cook. At all. The beginning of this semester was filled with frozen pizzas and chicken nuggets, but now I have learned that cooking can be really fun and yummy. Adult life, here I come!

BuzzFeed: For my aforementioned writing class, our final project was to interview someone interesting. I took a long shot by emailing one of my favorite writers from BuzzFeed asking to interview him. He said yes, and I got to go to the BuzzFeed office over Thanksgiving break and interview him. That was probably my favorite thing I did this semester.

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Overall, this fall has been great. I am looking forward to next semester (especially my Nonprofit Public Relations class with Professor Downes and my internship with Peace First). But before that, my winter break will consist of much need sleep, my mom’s home cooking, some reading for leisure, and lots and lots of Netflix.

Have any questions for our PR graduate student, Becca? Ask her in the comment section below!

If you’re interested in finding out more about all graduate programs offered through BU’s College of Communication, make sure to visit our website here.

 

 

 

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And you thought grad school was hard enough already…

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

I’ve been through four seasons of Division 1 soccer competition (and thanks to one red-shirt year, I’ve got another coming up next fall); so you’d think I’d be pretty good at managing my time by now, right?

WRONG! (Just kidding, I actually have gotten pretty good at it, but that was more dramatic right?) Honestly, it never gets easier or less stressful.  And this past semester, being in grad school added that extra workload that nearly put me over the edge.

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Me (in grey) and my teammate, Ariana Aston, celebrate after beating Navy in our conference opener this year.

The NCAA designates 20 hours a week of required activities for Division 1 athletes while in season.  This is supposed to give students time to actually be students and maybe even have a social life.  But what they don’t take into account is all the other little things that come along with being a student athlete.  To explain, let me give you a better idea as to what my schedule looks like as a grad student-athlete:

  • Practice every day (except for game day and the one required day off per week)
  • Lift twice a week
  • Team meeting once a week (and the occasionally individual goal-setting meeting with Coach)
  • Extra workouts once a week
  • Games, for which the NCAA automatically designates three hours for competition.  That means that travel time – whether it’s the 10 minute drive to Harvard, the six hour bus ride to Bucknell or the flight down to Navy (both of which are just two of our many overnight trips) – doesn’t really count.
  • Leadership meetings (as a captain)
  • Doctor’s appointments and rehabilitation in the athletic training room (four years of throwing yourself on the ground takes a toll on the body)

Yeah, it’s a lot more than 20 hours.  Yet, somehow I’m supposed to still have time to go to class (which I sometimes have to miss due to travel), do homework (when I’m not at practice or in the training room), and schedule group meetings with my poor classmates who always have to work around my busy schedule.  Work? Friends? Boyfriend? Netflix? SLEEP? Forget it!

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My teammates and I (hidden in the mix) celebrating after winning the Patriot League Championship at Colgate University.

Okay, so I may be a little dramatic, but it really feels like I barely had a second to stop and breathe this semester.  However, I can’t say that I would ever change it.  I love soccer.  I love all the friends and experiences I’ve gained from playing in college.  Plus, I absolutely loathe boredom.  So all in all, I never would have changed a thing.  It’s tough, but it is possible to be in grad school and play a sport and even have time to write for this blog!

 

 

 

 

Story

Why journalists shouldn’t fear numbers: storytelling with data

By Michelle Marino
MS Journalism ’15
BU College of Communication

We live in a digital world. No matter what you do or what profession you’re in, this reality permeates everything around us. In the communications field especially, it has never been more critical to embrace digitization to effectively gather, analyze and disseminate information. Aside from a compelling narrative, finding ways to insert data and help people visualize information is vital.

COM Journalism Professor Maggie Mulvihill

COM Journalism Professor Maggie Mulvihill

It’s no coincidence the Fall 2014 issue of COMtalk (BU’s College of Communication publication for alumni, parents and friends) listed data storytelling as one of three major trends affecting journalism today. Within the issue, many of COM’s professors are featured for their keen efforts in providing students with the tools needed to succeed in a changing field; one of those professors is Maggie Mulvihill. This COM Journalism professor is dedicated to getting students on board with using data not only to enhance their story’s credibility, but also arm them with valuable skills eagerly sought out by employers.

Professor Mulvihill, whose background is in watchdog and investigative reporting, has been using data to inform her stories for over 20 years. She ran a Storytelling with Data workshop at BU this summer, and is currently teaching a class this semester—Data Storytelling. The course focuses on learning how to identify and obtain appropriate data, how to download and extract, clean, analyze and finally bring it to life through data visualization. “No matter what occupation, we need to know how to work with digital information,” says Mulvihill. “All records are being digitized. In three to five years, government information will be streaming instead of static. Journalists have to be able to harness and capture information as it’s streamed and tell stories,” she says.

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Data is important, but when coupled with good journalistic skill, it can be powerful. Especially when analyzing, if you’re asking the right questions, your data can serve to elevate your story in a meaningful way. Although most of us aren’t statisticians or research scientists, as social scientists we’re able to ask the right people to fairly and accurately assist us with data interpretation.

Currently, Mulvihill has a student in her class working on a story with the use of government data. After analyzing this data and obtaining a statistical finding, the question of statistical significance comes into play. Mulvihill asks the question, “Is it statistically significant to be news?” In other words, to be newsworthy, data has to provide information that isn’t already out there and doesn’t serve as an outlier. The student looking at government data consulted with a statistics professor who advised them to get more data so they could look at a broader spectrum of information. In the end, these types of consultations will ensure a statistically sound story.

Data

Along with journalistic skill, data is always more effective when presented with a human face. “It can’t just be statistics and government records,” says Mulvihill. “It has to have a strong character driving the story so people who read, watch and care about it can identify.” This is why Mulvihill asks her students to choose a character at the beginning of the story development process to focus on throughout.

Mulvihill is also in the process of developing a computational journalism initiative at BU. She says there is a sense of urgency for journalists to move in the direction of telling stories with data, and more and more people studying journalism are learning and integrating computer science into their careers. “There are so many jobs for journalists now with data storytelling skills,” says Mulvihill. “It’s prominent and it’s not just limited to journalism, it’s every profession,” she says. “I love the ability to do stories other people can’t.”

What are your thoughts on incorporating data with journalism? Let us know in the comment section below.

Interested in BU’s College of Communication graduate programs? Visit our website here and you can find out what it takes to earn your MS in Journalism at BU.