Tag Archives: students

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!

Spring ’15; all that’s new this semester

By Michelle Marino
MS Journalism ’15
BU College of Communication

The Fall 2014 semester seems like another time and place, a lifetime ago. I had just transferred over from PR and was starting an entirely new course load and journey into journalism. I was pretty overwhelmed by the transition and trying to take on everything at a quicker pace than other first semester journalism students, since I knew I would only have a year to accomplish everything they would be doing in a year and a half. Last semester I wrote for this blog, the features department at The Daily Free Press, a Boston-based online food magazine called Simmer, and freelanced for BU’s online magazine The Quad.

Besides that, I was searching for an internship for the spring; I knew that would be critical to me entering the workforce come graduation in May ’15. I fortuitously ended up with an internship with Boston magazine this semester, and am already enjoying it. Since my preferred topic and medium is lifestyle magazine writing, I couldn’t be happier. I am doing a lot of fact-checking, which allows me to dig deep into how sources were gathered and the information given. Although it can be painstaking, I’m learning a lot about the newsgathering process and topics I knew nothing about.

On Feb. 24, my first article will be published in Boston HOME. It is a piece on an artist and her gouache paintings. If you know what that means, I salute you. I didn’t before I wrote the article. I’m hoping I will get to write many more over the course of the semester. I’m also an editor of the Spotlight section of The Daily Free Press. Editing has really given me the opportunity to keep on top of AP style as well as keep up with the news cycle. Having to pitch several stories every week keeps me constantly on the lookout for what’s coming up on the horizon and what is newsworthy.

This semester is going to be a whirlwind, especially once the thesis gets off the ground. I think the hardest part about starting it will be deciding on a topic. I’m hoping some of my professors will be able to help, and I’ll aim to do a print series (with some multimedia) on some aspect of agriculture or the fishing industry. The one thing I’ve learned from all the craziness is the more involved you are with everything around you, the more you are able to connect the dots. Whether you’re interviewing a professor, chef, biologist, business owner, or Miss USA, you can learn from each one something that will surprisingly apply to something else you are doing.

IMG_2908Michelle Marino at her desk at the Boston magazine office

This is especially true when it comes to networking. I went to a COM networking event last semester and met the Food Editor of Boston magazine. At my internship, I am sitting right behind her and get insight into what she’s working on every day. Here’s to a great Spring 2015 semester!


Remembering David Carr, COM Professor and NY Times columnist

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

As the journalism community grieved the loss of David Carr last evening, students at COM had to put emotions aside and do what they are being trained to do in the face of such a happening; report.

The recent couple weeks have been unfortunate for the world of journalism; the killing of two Japanese journalists by ISIS, Jon Stewart stepping down from the daily show, Bob Simon of CBS’s 60 Minutes passing away and last evening, David Carr.To us at COM, he was not just another journalist. He was one of our professors, one of us.

Within minutes of hearing the news about his death though, students at the Boston University News Service (BUNS) and The Daily Free Press sprung in to action.

“Bulletin: There’s chatter on Twitter that David Carr has died. We need to confirm or debunk this. If it’s true, we need to report. If it’s not true we need to report how this happened.” posted Prof. Michelle Johnson on the Facebook page for BUNS contributors.

Within an hour of her posting, there were over a 100 responses in the comments section. Students had reached out to current professors, the Dean, students taking his class this semester and others who had taken it previously. The obituary that came out from this teamwork can be found on the BUNS website.

Jamie Bologna, a recent COM grad, who had taken Carr’s class last semester,tweeted about the loss.


Jamie Bologna’s tweets from the night of 12th Feb, ’15

Prim Chuwiruch who took his course, Press Play, in the fall of 2014 said, “David Carr went beyond being just a professor. He was a mentor and a friend in times when he didn’t need to be, but he did anyways.”This is what the syllabus for his course Press Play looked like. I’m a second semester grad student at BU and I’ve not seen a syllabus from any other course look anything like this.

The Daily Free Press put together a page overnight dedicated to the late professor.  COM alumni Megan Turchi and Justine Hofherr who both took his class wrote this piece for Boston.com. More coverage on the life of Carr and his demise will be up on BU News Service over the next couple days.

Despite being sad for the loss COM has suffered, I’m honestly grateful for the experience of working in a newsroom with such great teams. These are essential lessons that we learn for our lives as journalists. And I’m glad I’m learning it here at COM.


(Featured image courtesy: BUNS)


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.

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.

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.