As a leader in undergraduate education, Miami University seeks to create the “engaged student.”
That’s the goal, too, of Miami’s Department of Media, Journalism & Film — and of the second iteration of its Summer Scholars offering, Media & the Millennials: Journalism in Action. Whether learning about or practicing their hand at journalism, the nine rising high school seniors in the 2015 Media & the Millennials cohort were models of engaged learning. Over eight class days, running 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., they conducted meaningful question-and-answer sessions about journalism with more than two dozen media professionals (some in person, others via Skype) and then completed two of their own pieces of journalistic work, focused on fellow Summer Scholar students. Along the way, they learned about the role of the news media in society, the myriad of challenges facing the industry, the skills required of the 21st century journalist and the opportunities to study journalism and related disciplines at Miami or elsewhere. Every encounter — whether researching guests and then tossing questions at them, or interviewing and photographing peers and their professors — offered learning for students considering careers in the world of media:
Molly Shanks (Miami ‘12), a producer of Chicago’s Best for WGN TV, explained that she and her team cut three to four hours of footage about their featured restaurants down to 3 1/2 minutes. Some trick — considering they have to work in interviews with restaurant owners/managers, kitchen help, and customers, along with all-important shots of food prep and presentation, known in her business as the “food porn.”
John Kiesewetter told students that accuracy and connections matter for media. When he left the Cincinnati Enquirer last December, after 39 1/2 years, he was able to keep reporting on the world of media via Facebook because he’d developed such a trusted collection of sources who knew he’d get it right. That strategy caught the attention of Cincinnati public radio station WVXU-FM, which picked up his lively blog in early July.
Amanda Seitz (Miami ’12) explained the importance of deep reporting as an investigative reporter for Cox Media Group Ohio. She turns to public records to bring stories to Butler County, Ohio, readers — including ones about Miami.
Sarah Sidlow (Miami ’13) won her job as editor of Dayton City Paper the old-fashioned way — by proving herself one story at a time. She started at the entertainment weekly as a freelance writer with a willingness to take more and more assignments. That got her a foot in the door and soon won her a promotion to the top job where she fills as many as four dozen pages a week with content created by a mostly freelance staff.
Sarah Aarthun (Miami ’03) worked her way to CNN headquarters in Atlanta the old-fashioned way, too — via the copy desk. A careful writer and editor, who won a coveted Dow Jones editing internship as a student, Sarah landed on the copy desk of the Winston-Salem Journal straight out of school. That got her to the Charlotte Observer, with both writing and editing jobs. With lots of careful lobbying, she landed an editing position with CNN.com in late 2009 and now serves as the senior assignment editor of the “dot com” side, calling on her staff to create web packages for the biggest stories of the moment.
Students wanted to know if Ben Garbarek (Miami ’08) ever has trouble getting information for his work for WSYX (an ABC affiliate) in Columbus? “All the time,” he admitted. Reporters need to be creative to confirm key angles and get stories on the air. His recent story about an FBI investigation targeting Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman required lots of public records and generic video footage — along with a key assist from a colleague. The best part of his job? Chasing national stories (Ariel Castro, Baltimore riots, college football championship) against national reporters.
At the Cincinnati Enquirer, key staffers (President/Publisher Rick Green, Director of Photography Glenn Hartong, Storytelling Coach Amy Wilson, and Business Strategist/Daily Coach Mark Wert) had a central message: “You need to be able to do anything and everything,” in Hartong’s words. As “digital first” journalism has taken hold, members of the news staff in Cincinnati, like everywhere, have had to report, write, and collect digital, audio and video materials — then produce news quickly and accurately for use on web, on social media and in print. An image can carry a story, Hartong said. At the same time, “storytelling will never go out of fashion,” Wilson noted.
At the Cincinnati office of the Associated Press, meanwhile, correspondent Dan Sewell, a part-time journalism instructor at Miami, is after the big stories about Cincinnati for readers outside the city. Originally an AP sports reporter, Sewell was knee-deep in coverage of the MLB All-Star Game in Cincinnati when M&M students visited. With those stories, as with all AP stories, the goal is: “Get it first, but first get it right.”
At Cincinnati magazine, a diverse staff contributes to a diverse point of view. Executive Editor Linda Vaccariello arrived with a theater background in 1983; more recently Tamia Stinson signed on as a stylist, having honed her skills on a style blog, and Allysa Konermann, an associate managing editor, arrived with experience in city administration.
On “Digital Day,” JM Rieger (Miami ’13) recounted his efforts to bring Washington D.C.’s CQ Roll Call into the digital age with his weekly Congressional Hits and Misses highlight reel while Amelia Carpenter (Miami ’12) outlined efforts to promote the Narrative Science brand in Chicago and Jenn Smola (Miami ’14) is chasing the biggest stories in Ohio for the original digital news provider, the Associated Press, in her second stint as a temporary AP reporter out of Columbus.
On “Magazine Day,” Cincinnati magazine Associate Editor Adam Flango and Digital Media Editor Amy Brownlee (Miami ’05) told students they prefer reporting and writing long narrative feature stories. But service journalism — “Best Burgers,” “Best Doctors,” “Best Bourbon,” etc. — can be compelling if well-planned and well-executed, they said. The service packages pay the bills, they noted. “Journalism is about analytics,” Brownlee said. Meanwhile, at Jezebel magazine, Editor in Chief Allison Mitchell (Miami ’11) aims to attract readers drawn to “busy” designs about who’s who and what’s what in Atlanta, while Nicole Theodore (Miami ’14) has used her wide range of multimedia skills to move from digital intern to editorial assistant at Playboy.com in Beverly Hills, Calif. (And, yes, she’s been to founding editor Hugh Hefner’s famed mansion — twice!)
What else? Miamians told M&M students how they are using their communications skills in a wide range of ways. Bethany Bruner (Miami ’12) recounted crime-and-court stories worthy of a “Law & Order” episode — and noted that she starts most interviews for the Newark (Ohio) Advocate with an apology for intruding. “You are going to be dealing with people on the worst day of their life,” she said. Miami Student Editor Reis Thebault (Miami ’16) discussed the biggest Miami stories so far in 2015, including the first murder in Oxford in three decades. Lauren Pulte (Miami ’09), public relations and communications manager for The Onion in Chicago, said she fears a boss will soon stop at her desk, tell her there was some mistake and fire her. “Everyone feels this is their dream job,” she said of colleagues at the satirical news site. And out West, Lauren Kelly (Miami ’11) is using the organizational skills that helped her launch Miami’s UP fashion magazine as a fashion industry agent for LA-based Forward Artists, coordinating the many tasks involved in getting models ready for runways and red carpets.
As M&M students completed their deep dig into journalistic learning, they fanned out across campus to work on their own stories. Be sure to open the links in their bios to read a brief profile of another Summer Scholar student along with an essay about their M&M learning. And don’t miss a photographic trip through the first session of Summer Scholars 2015, with a terrific Day in the Life photo compilation.
— Patricia Gallagher Newberry
Media & The Millennials instructor
Senior Lecturer, Journalism Program
Department of Media, Journalism & Film
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Meet the 2015 Media & The Millennials Summer Scholars:
Rachel Berkun, from West Palm Beach, Fla., will begin her senior year at Suncoast High School in the fall. She enjoys snowboarding and water sports, and is on the varsity bowling team. She has donated her time to scholastic activities such as National Honor Society, UNICEF club, and WRSN, the school news channel at her high school. Outside of school, Rachel volunteers for the Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League and Resource Depot. Her favorite subject is English and she loves to write in her free time. Rachel lives with her parents, younger brother, five dogs, and one cat. Read her photo story and essay.
Katie King, from Milton, Ga., is an upcoming senior at Milton High School. King is an active member in her school’s literary magazine the “Celestial Tabernacle” and is president of the creative writing club. In her spare time she writes poetry, short stories, and is currently working on a novel. She also is an avid reader and loves drawing and painting. She volunteers at Arbor Terrace, an assisted living community. Katie hopes to major in journalism and photography. Read her photo story and essay.
Rachel Lowrie, an incoming senior at Hathaway Brown School in Shaker Heights, Ohio, lives with her dad and sister in a small house tucked behind the trees of Gates Mills. At 17, she has been interested in the arts since even before she was able to understand them. From singing entire songs in the back seat of the car at age 1, to having a disposable camera attached to her 4-year-old hands, to writing 10-page stories in her third-grade notebook, her passion for writing, photography, and music is only growing stronger. She often finds that a pen and an empty piece of paper are her best friends, whether it be in sadness, happiness, or anything in between. Rachel seeks refuge in the Cleveland Art Museum on weekends, marveling at the paintings and sculptures that spark her artistic flow and inspire her writing. Read her photo story and essay.
Jillian O’Brien, from Naperville, Ill., will be a senior at Neuqua Valley High School, where she is a section leader in the marching band, an assistant director of various plays and musicals in the theater department, a contributor to Neuqua’s nationally ranked literary magazine, and a staff writer for the school newspaper, The Echo. She also enjoys singing, traveling (she traveled to Spain over spring break on a tour with the Grammy-winning Neuqua Band Department), and sleeping. She plans to major in journalism, and is considering a second major in either public relations and criminology. Read her photo story and essay.
Natalie Nicole Roma, from Hinckley, Ohio, is entering her senior year at Highland High School. She is president of her school’s D.A.R.E Role Model Program, Spirit Club, upcoming president for V.O.F.T. , a middle school youth girls track coach for Girls on the Run, and a dedicated AP student. Outside of school, Natalie works at a local grocery store and spends time with family and friends. She also volunteers at Saint Herman’s homeless shelter and feeds the homeless on the streets of Akron once a month. A frequent travel, she visited Greece, Romania, and Switzerland last summer, and plans a trip to Europe before entering college. Her No. 1 goal is to reach out to others and make a difference in the world, and plans to become an English major and then teach at the high school level. She is currently undecided where she will attend college so is counting on teachers, family, and friends to help with the decision! Read her photo story and essay.
Cynthia Wagner, from Beavercreek, Ohio, is entering her senior year of high school this fall. She is currently a student at The Miami Valley School in Dayton, Ohio, and hopes to attend Miami University in the fall of 2016. At school, she is a member of the Red Cross Club, Prom Committee, and Model UN, and a dedicated AP student. In the coming year, she hopes to become a senior community service leader. Cynthia has also been a cheerleader for five years and played lacrosse last year. She volunteers for organizations such as The Salvation Army, House of Bread, Be Free Dayton, Bethany Village, and Five Rivers MetroParks with classmates once a month. She also gives time to Roads to Recovery in Fairborn, Ohio, a non-profit organization serving families in the greater Dayton area who face autism spectrum disorders. She is considering majoring in both journalism and marketing in college, and hopes to better understand career options in journalism through her Summer Scholars program. Read her photo story and essay.
Magdalena Wyszynski, from St. Charles, Ill., will be attending her final year as a senior at St. Charles East High School. During high school, she has taken part in the local Family Community Career Leaders of America chapter, worked on the prevention of bullying and suicide in her school’s HOPE club, and run for her school’s cross country and track team. This year, she hopes to become a staff writer for her school’s newspaper, join more clubs and do well in her AP and Honors classes. Outside of school, Maggie is involved with anti-bullying and suicide prevention charities, as well as her public library. She enjoys travel, journalism and biology, but does not yet know what she will study in college. She is thrilled about the wonderful opportunity provided by the Miami University Summer Scholars program as she enters the final, stressful, and big decision-making year of high school. She hopes to be a Miami Redhawk in the fall of 2016. Read her photo story and essay.