Tag Archives: com

Accepted Students Open House Day

By Gina Kim
MS Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication

The last weekend of March was quite a busy one for COM—what with the three-day long Narrative Conference going on at Boston University with so many amazing keynote speakers, journalists and storytellers from all over to sharing their experiences from the industry.

Over at the COM building on Saturday, March 28, the graduate program also had a panel of five keynote speakers, journalists and storytellers of their own at the Accepted Prospective Students Day, except the only difference was, it featured COM’s own current graduate students.

The panel of chosen students answered questions from the audience and talked about their current experiences at COM, why they chose the program, what the competition is like and how to manage the workload.

Alex Hirsch, (Sports Broadcast ’16) was one of the students whom the professors recommended be chosen to participate in the Q and A session panel. Just a year ago, Alex had been one of the many prospective students still trying to decide his future and whether or not his destiny lied with COM.

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“It felt pretty cool being on the other side of the podium for once,” Alex said. “You’re always wondering whether you’re actually succeeding or doing your best work here at COM, but knowing that the professors recommend you to be on that panel is further confirmation that you’re on the right path in life, and that you’re doing what you’re supposed to do. It’s validation that I’m working towards the right goal and I’m right here where I belong.”

He also mentioned that although the Q and A session was for him to inform interested students, it was a learning lesson for him as well.

“I didn’t do journalism before COM and I realized that while I was answering questions, I was representing all those people who are coming to school without any journalism background either. I was there to explain that just because I didn’t have undergraduate experience in it, doesn’t mean that it can’t be done,” he said.

Hanae Armitage, (Science Journalism ’15) was also chosen to be on the distinguished panel of students to represent her field and help prospective students consider COM to be their future home.

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“It was definitely a great experience honestly,” she said. “I remember having a ton of questions and being in their position last year, and it was great to share my own experience with them. Especially even more so now because I can confirm that I absolutely love it here, and I made the right choice.”

For Armitage, it wasn’t tough to gush about the program and encourage students to come experience COM for themselves. “Everyone here I’ve met in the science journalism field has been super supportive of incoming journalists which I appreciate. So I felt like I really wanted to relay that attitude to the new students too,” she said.

Feel like you’re at another turning point in life with a fork stuck in the road? Time grabbing you by the wrist directing you where to go? You heard it here first. COM is definitely the path that can’t be beat!

Narrative Non-Fiction Writing—A Class You Don’t Want to Miss!

By Gina Kim
MS Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication

The end of March means a lot of important things, but most of all, it reminds us that COM students have to pick out courses for the Fall. With just a month to go with our current Spring 2015 courses, it’s quite daunting to realize that we have to start planning out our final semester at COM. In the midst of advising appointments, checking off that list of whether we fulfilled our required courses for our disciplines, and beginning to sketch a broad outline of what our possible graduate theses will be in the fall, we often forget that there are certain courses that may not be required for most students, but will still be important to take nonetheless.

Professor Mark Kramer’s JO 527 Art of Non-Fiction Narrative Writing course is just one of many great writing classes that is welcome to all COM students, whether you’re Print, Broadcast, or even an undergrad student. It’s for anyone wishing to hone in on their already superb writing skills or to learn a completely different craft. It fulfills a student’s desire to understand the intricate mechanics of writing in such a way that cannot be taught by reading published examples alone. It’s something to constantly practice, sharpen, and eventually add on to your mile long list of skill-sets to boast about when you’re thrust into the industry.

Michelle Marino, a final semester Print Journalism graduate student at COM is currently enrolled in JO 527, where she’s been learning how to write for an audience, getting readers involved and practicing how to build upon a single great idea.

“Going into it, I knew it’d be a rigorous class that demanded lots of attention and sleepless nights of re-drafts and rewrites. I’d already taken Feature Writing last fall with Professor Ruppel-Shell, and it changed my life. I decided to take Non-Fiction Narrative as well, because I wanted to tell a more compelling story but in a different way. Narrative is about informing and educating people while still presenting them with hard facts,” she said.

There’s a lot to take away from a course like non-fiction narrative. COM already has a superb list of phenomenal, skill-building courses for students to take, and with a superstar lineup of faculty in all long-form writing courses, Professor Mark Kramer rounds out that list with JO 527.

“First of all, there’s no syllabus,” Michelle said. “Students are to come up with seven ideas that you’d plan to write about for the semester. You then narrow your idea down to the point where you have a viable one to focus on. Kramer than chips away at something until you find the core focus. After being approved, you report a first draft. You get to take a whack at it for the next class if there are things to fix. There’s a long process of going through several drafts but it’s so helpful because it forces you to take your time to produce the absolute best you can.”

Hunting for an informative course where you can have fun and tap into your full writing potential? Look no further. Check out JO 527 and make room for it either this Fall or Spring 2016 semester!

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The Redstone Film Festival 2015

By Keiko Talley
MS Journalism ’16
BU College of Communication

The Redstones Film Festival is held each spring semester by the Film and Television Department at COM. The festival showcases works submitted by both graduate and undergraduate students. Films are awarded based on several categories: best film, best cinematography, best screenplay, best editing, best sound design, Fleder/Rosenberg best short screenplay; the festival is basically like the Oscars of Boston University.

This year’s 1st place winner and the winner of Best Screenplay, was Bryan Sih (COM’14.)  His film Winter/Spring, was about a Spanish-speaking couple working on a farm.

What inspired you for this film?

Lots of things. I started thinking of parenthood after reading Sherwood Anderson’s The Untold Lie. I began questioning the bringing of a child into the world when adults are just as confused as a child. Immigrants always inspire me with their bravery and often-tragic necessity to seek an alien world, and so I included that in the film. Then there are the actors themselves, since the film relies on improvisation, they are responsible for a lot. Unfortunately, I wrote the whole script for the spring. When we scouted the farm, it was covered in three feet of snow that refused to melt so I rewrote the film on the spot.

How long and what type of preparation did this film take?

I started preparing the script in December and we were still writing into April. I like to lock myself into a room, get a large piece of paper and write the scenes in blurbs all over the page. It usually lasts a few days and I am constantly rewriting it. I am a terrible writer, so the real preparation begins with the actors. I also have the actors work beforehand. For Winter/Spring, they drove up to the farm together without the crew and when they arrived on set, had formed their own private language. It made them come across as a self-enclosed unit.

RedstoneFirst place winner Bryan Sih (COM’14) flanked by his actors, Herlin Navarro and David Quiroz

What is the message that you wanted to portray in this film?

It was more a question: what does it mean to be ready for parenthood? It is a film about being on the cusp of great life change and not fully being ready, but learning how to work through this struggle together, with tenderness, forgiveness and communication.

You don’t speak Spanish, but your film is in Spanish with English subtitles, why is that?

I grew up in a diverse town with many immigrant families, they’re part of my world. The couple in this film is isolated somewhere in North America, and they’ve retained their spoken language. The film focuses primarily on their relationship actually, not ethnicity. Also, directing in a language you don’t speak makes observing the things that matter all the more vivid.

What does the future entail for you now that you’ve won the Redstone?

The Redstones gave me a camera to shoot more films with, so I hope to be more productive. I’ve learned so much from my experience with Winter/Spring and can’t wait to dive into the next project.

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COM’s first data storytelling course was nothing short of a success

By Iris Moore
MS Broadcast Journalism ’15
BU College of Communication

In a recent post, blogger Michelle Marino filled us in on the most recent, innovative medium of journalism—data storytelling (if you did not get a chance to read it, check it out here). In her post, Michelle introduced us to Maggie Mulvihill, a BU College of Communication (COM) professor who is at the forefront of incorporating data storytelling into COM’s Journalism curriculum.

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I, along with a few other COM faculty and staff members, had the pleasure of sitting in on Prof. Mulvihill’s final data storytelling class of the semester. In fact, this was the very first data storytelling course offered at COM—I watched history happen!

During this particular class, Mulvihill’s students presented their final projects, which they had been working on all semester. However, before presentations started, Mulvihill provided us with a clear objective as to why she worked so hard to convince COM to let her build and teach this course—a journalist’s story becomes more powerful when data is used because it enables one to more effectively persuade, pitch, propose, advocate, engage and convince their audiences.

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Throughout the semester, Mulvihill worked to equip students with a number of skill sets for analyzing and obtaining data. After teaching students how to identify what data is attainable and appropriate for an intended story, she made sure they understood how to do the following:

  • Obtain data
  • Clean data
  • Analyze data
  • Extract data
  • Scrape data
  • Visualize and present data (students learned how to use a number of multimedia and software tools, such as Open Refine, Tableau, Time Toast and Google Fusion)

Mulvihill designed the course’s final projects to provide students with a practical understanding for telling stories with data. Students were expected to identify a data-set for their project, request it from a government agency, negotiate for it and obtain it.

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For each presentation, students first told us how they came up with their data story idea. Then, they explained why the data they had spent all semester trying to collect was actually newsworthy. From there, they described what tactics they used in obtaining the data. Each student explained the numerous challenges they faced while trying to obtain data (costs, contact issues, legal issues, etc.). In fact, some were even unable to collect the necessary data for their story. However, this did not make their project any less complete, as one thing was made clear by both the students and Mulvihill: data storytelling takes time!

The majority of these projects are not even complete. They will require months, maybe even years of work. One example is a project done by graduate student John Hilliard. He took on a project Mulvihill started back in 2013 and took it all the way to the front page of The Boston Globe (the day I sat in on their class was the same day the article was published—again, more history I was able to witness). If you want to hear more about Hilliard’s exciting accomplishment, be sure to check out blogger Gina Kim’s interview with him here.

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Other projects covered topics, such as domestic violence, housing issues, crime on university and college campuses in Boston and lightning related injuries in the state.  (Since many of these stories are being offered for publication and broadcast to larger news outlets, we are unable to provide you with the actual project).

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To me, these projects are a clear reflection of Mulvihill and her students’ hard work throughout the semester. On behalf of her students, Mulvhill spoke with so much pride and confidence in their ability to become successful journalists, given the tools they so successfully acquired over the last 15 weeks. Her passion and dedication for her students reminds me, yet again, as to why I am here at Boston University’s College of Communication.

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.