#ASCJNewYear – Welcome to the 2014-2015 academic year!

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Wilson Bay Banet-Weiser

New building. New program. New era. Over the next few days the Inside Annenberg blog will bring you an exclusive preview of the exciting 2014-2015 academic year USC Annenberg faculty, students and staff have ahead of them. From event previews, to student and faculty profiles, to surveys of new classes and new academic minors, to looks at our groundbreaking new converged media center, the stories collected below under the heading of #ASCJNewYear are the beginning of an ongoing conversation about the important work we do together as members of the USC Annenberg community. As this is a conversation, we’d love it if you used the #ASCJNewYear hashtag on Twitter and Instagram while sharing and responding to these stories. We will collect and share those responses here as they come in.

Taste of Annenberg 2013New students to get a Taste of Annenberg August 21

Incoming USC Annenberg students will get a preview of the exciting four years ahead of them with the Taste of Annenberg new student event on August 21.


StudentsUSC Annenberg offers new fall 2014 journalism courses

With a new building, new Master’s degree program, and new classes, the USC Annenberg School of Journalism will see some exciting changes this fall.


Comm StudentsSchool of Communication offers new courses in the fall

This fall, the School of Communication is offering several new special topics classes, as well as a number of existing courses that are now a part of the school’s curriculum.


M{2e} co-driectorsMinor Key: Introducing the brand new Media, Economics and Entrepreneurship minor

Over the last few years, an interdisciplinary program called Media, Economics and Entrepreneurship (M{2E}) has given students an invaluable, economic-focused understanding of the media landscape, but what it didn’t give them was an academic credential. That’s where the brand new M{2E} minor comes in.


Going ViralAnnenberg X offers set of experimental learning courses for fall 2014

USC Annenberg Professors Jonathan Aronson, K.C. Cole and Marc Cooper will be part of a new series of two-unit courses this fall designed to engage students seeking careers in media, journalism, communications and entertainment with the world around them.


Wallis Annenberg Hall Media CenterNew Media Center is “one big sandbox for all our student productions” (VIDEO)

Chuck Boyles, director of multimedia technology for USC Annenberg, and Willa Seidenberg, Director of Annenberg Radio News, show off the converged Media Center at Wallis Annenberg Hall.


Jackson Fellowship Recipient Susan Valot Master Class: Jackson Fellowship recipient Susan Valot on the Annenberg advantage

When Susan Valot graduated from college, she wasn’t sure she needed an advanced degree in journalism in order to pursue her craft. But when, after 17 years as a working journalist, she began to think about returning to school and becoming the first in her family to earn a master’s, she wasn’t sure how that dream was going to become a reality.


Wilson-Bay-Banet-Weiser_thumbUSC Annenberg welcomes Banet-Weiser and Bay as directors of Communication and Journalism Schools

Cue the sparklers and the USC Trojan marching band. On July 1, the Annenberg community heartily welcomed Sarah Banet-Weiser and Willow Bay on their first official days as the new directors of the Communication and Journalism Schools at USC Annenberg.

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An Appreciation: Professor Joe Saltzman remembers longtime friend and colleague A.J. Langguth

Professor emeritus Arthur John Langguth, a world-class reporter, author and educator, passed away on Monday. He was 81.

The following is a personal reflection by Joe Saltzman on the incredible life of “Jack” Langguth.

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Jack was one of my closest and dearest friends. When we first met in September 1962 at the Valley Times Today, we used to spend hours on the phone talking, debating, arguing about everything from politics to personal matters. In later years, especially after he retired from USC more than a decade ago, we traded e-mails on a daily basis and up to the night of his death, I was still filing a report of what was going on at USC, in the Saltzman household, about things in general, something he expected on a nightly basis.

He was one of the most extraordinary human beings I have ever met. He had what I am sure was a photographic mind because he remembered everything in great detail. He knew more about me than I did and would constantly bring up embarrassing events that happened in my life even if they were 30 or 40 years old, recalled in perfect detail.

He was a marvelous writer and reporter. His book on Vietnam, which includes the only interviews even then with the Vietnamese and Chinese generals and soldiers who won the war, is a classic never to be repeated. His history books read like novels — he wrote about history as if he were standing in a particular moment in time, observing events just as they happened. Anyone who has read Patriots, his first book on American history never forgets his telling of the War for Independence. It is living history written by a perceptive and knowledgeable reporter.

Jack didn’t care much about university life, but loved teaching and he loved his students and his students cherished him. I remember in 1976 when we were sitting in the old USC Grill and I asked him if he would be interested in teaching at USC — believing that would be the last thing he would ever do. He said he would, and in my excitement, I promptly spilled my drink all over him. He said later teaching was a godsend because it enabled him the money and time to write his books.

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For the next several decades, our offices were adjacent — first in the Grace Ford Salvatori Hall and later in the USC Annenberg building. When Jack left USC, he gave me a giant photograph shot when he won the Teacher of the Year Award from AEJMC. It still sits in my office and everyone swears when you move about the room, his eyes follow you.

We both shared a love for Norman Corwin. For more than 20 years, Jack would host a small birthday party for Norman every year and then interview him on his life and times. They were wonderful parties. When Norman was having trouble putting together his letters for publication, he asked Jack, who was busy on his latest book, to help him. Jack dropped everything to edit the letters for publication and his brief biographical statements introducing each letter turn out to be the best things ever written about Norman, who was eternally grateful to Jack for taking on what he called “an odious task.”

Jack was the kindest man I know when it came to anyone who asked his help. He was mentor to dozens of young writers — looking over their work, making razor-sharp suggestions for improvement, helping them get a publisher or an agent. And he was as loyal a friend as anyone could ever have.

He made me a better person and a better writer and his enthusiasm for my research project‒ the Image of the Journalist in Popular Culture — knew no bounds. He was my biggest fan, my biggest critic, my greatest friend and I will miss him more than I can say.

Jack forever chided me that Barbara and I never invited him to our wedding — even though we hadn’t met him until three months after the wedding. He was there for me when our son David died, when my parents died, when everything of importance (or unimportance) happened to me, always there when I needed him.

Early in our friendship he had convinced me that he could foretell the future. I had a great fear of flying and he said he would warn me if the plane was in jeopardy before I boarded it. So every time I went on a trip, I would call him or e-mail him and he would reassure me that all would be well. He even predicted a bumpy flight but a safe landing and he was right on the mark. He also told me once that I would die the day after he did, but rescinded that prediction several years ago when he became ill.

I cherish Jack’s extended family who were with him in his last months of need — especially Sue Horton, Chas Fleming, Joe Domanick, Angel. They made his last days as comfortable and peaceful as possible. He wrote me a final e-mail: “All fine on Whitley.” He then thanked his caretakers: “With my undying gratitude. (Small joke.).”

He was very excited about his new book, After Lincoln, which comes out this month. Usually before one of his books was published, Jack never talked much about it. But this time, he not only continually sent me things he had written, but he wrote that he really thought this was a good book.

I can hardly wait to read it. In the past, I would write Jack copious e-mails describing my reactions to each chapter as I read it. I’m going to miss doing that this time around.

He once told me when a cherished friend of his died that life went on but it was as if several colors of the rainbow had disappeared forever. Jack took more than a rainbow from us. For me, his death is a long shadow that obliterates the universe in which I live. He knew me better than I knew myself and a piece of me died with him.

I will, of course, remember his wit, his intellect, his humor, his love of gossip, his loyalty to friends, his love of reading, his joy in writing, his generosity to students and young writers, and his “children,” the books he left us that will live as long as books exist.

Images courtesy of professor Joe Saltzman’s Facebook page.

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Quoted: USC Annenberg in the News

HernandezR_121x163.ashxThe Yo App

Annenberg Professor Robert Hernandez was quoted in a story from American Journalism Review about “Yo,” an app that allows users to send quick notifications to other users.

News organizations such as the Washington Post have been experimenting with the app, notifying subscribers whenever a story about the National Security Agency is published. While Hernandez said he is “in favor of innovation and experimentation,” he thinks the Washington Post wasted an opportunity.

“They could have used the Yo notification for something bigger, like whenever an unarmed person dies at the hands of the police, or every time somebody is killed with a gun,” Hernandez said. “The amount of Yo’s would really send a certain message.”

SeibThe Real Social Media Battleground

Annenberg Professor Philip Seib wrote an Op-Ed for the Huffington Post about the Gaza War and the claims made by Hamas and the Israel Defense Forces. The government closely follows the messages being exchanged, but Seib wrote that they should instead be following the conversations on social media spurred by these declarations.

“This is the layer of online conversation where political viewpoints become strengthened or weakened,” Seib wrote, adding that “give-and-take dialogue among those who regard each other as credible builds opinion and perhaps leads to political action.”

He added that after more than 10 years of facing Al Qaeda, we should know that “the mobilizing capabilities of the online world are underestimated at our peril.”

Social Media Censorship

After the Islamic State beheaded American journalist James Foley, the video was posted to YouTube and the New York Post used a still shot for their front page. The public outcry was so great that the video was taken down and Twitter suspended the accounts of people who shared it.

Annenberg Professor Robert Hernandez spoke with NPR’s David Greene about censorship and the distinction between news organizations and social media platforms.

Hernandez said that as a journalist, he is against any and all kinds of censorship.

“I do believe Twitter and others being proactive about censoring this information start to engage in a slippery slope,” Hernandez said, adding that they’re framing themselves as the “proactive editor determining what is good or bad for their users.”

In the New York Post’s case, it was their choice to include the photo and Twitter shouldn’t censor them, according to Hernandez.

“It’s their platform. It’s their rules. But it is something to be aware of. It’s something different.”

Jonathan TaplinLetter to the Millennials

Medium published an open letter from Annenberg Professor and Innovation Lab Director Jonathan Taplin this week. The letter addresses students in Taplin’s class, “Innovation, Entertainment and the Arts,” describing to them his generation’s “boomer disillusionment” as a result of political change (or lack thereof) and proposes imagining a future in which “great artistic work continues to flourish.”

“The bottom line is that the world has come a long way, but from my perspective, we’re also living in uniquely worrisome times,” Taplin wrote.

He added: “I’m writing this letter in the hopes that it will help set the stage for a truly cross-generational dialogue over the next sixteen weeks, in which I help you understand the contexts and choices that have brought us where we are today, and in which you help me, and one another, figure out the best way to move forward from here.”

KaplanThe News Summer From Hell and the End of Optimism

Annenberg Professor Marty Kaplan wrote an Op-Ed for Jewish Journal about the onslaught disheartening world events this summer.

“If you’re staying informed, you’re licking the razor.  Unfortunately, not following what’s happening in the world isn’t really an option,” Kaplan wrote. “These horrors seize our lizard brains; we’re hard-wired to pay attention to danger.”

Kaplan cites events such as the Gaza war, the Ebola crisis and Robin Williams’ shocking suicide as the reasons behind waning optimism in the world over the last few months.

“We who experience these events through the media are infinitely better off than people for whom they are life-or-death reality. But even at our remove, it’s hard not to feel beaten up and helpless,” Kaplan said.

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Annenberg Alum Julie Chen Speaks with Students About Changing Journalism Field

Alum Julie Chen speaks to students in Wallis Annenberg Hall on Tuesday, August 26.

Alum Julie Chen speaks to students in Wallis Annenberg Hall on Tuesday, August 26.

Journalist and television personality Julie Chen stopped by the new Wallis Annenberg Hall Tuesday night to speak with students about her own Annenberg experience and the changing nature of the journalism field.

Chen visited Professor Mary Murphy’s JOUR 381: Entertainment, Business and Media class in the Wallis Annenberg Hall auditorium for an interview followed by a question and answer session. Among the topics discussed were diversity in the media and the changing role of the television journalist — specifically how the field has changed since she was in college.

As a 1991 USC graduate with a dual degree in broadcast journalism and English, Chen has spoken to several classes at Annenberg over the past few years, but was one of the first guest speakers to address students in the new Annenberg building.

“Julie has broken so many barriers to help women in the future of journalism,” Murphy said. “So I thought [she was] the perfect first guest for the beginning of this era in the new journalism school.”

With journalistic experience including more than 20 years with CBS, Chen has anchored “CBS Morning News,CBS This Morning, and Early Show. Viewers of reality and daytime television will also know Chen as the host of CBS’s “Big Brother since 2000, and as the moderator of the network’s daytime talk-show, “The Talk.”

Chen discussed the criticism she received which accused her of not being a “real journalist” after agreeing to host “Big Brotherand “The Talk, but said that television news and other types of television often go hand-in-hand.

“If you want to be a talk show host, you need some level of journalism under your belt,” Chen said, who was chosen to host “Big Brother based on her journalistic experience, and advised students interested in pursuing entertainment news and talk shows to take acting classes. “There’s a level of performance involved.”

But as a journalist, Chen said, there’s a time and a place for that level of performance.

“If you want to be a talk show host, journalist, broadcaster, you’re not the star, and that’s what you have to remember,” Chen said. “That’s why you have to be a good listener.”

Born and raised in Queens, New York, Chen was inspired to pursue broadcast journalism because of the lack of diversity she saw on television growing up in the 1970s. She described how finally seeing an Asian-American woman reporting the news, and how proud that made her mother, shaped her own path and made her certain that journalism was the right career for her. And with her mother’s mandate that Chen and her siblings could not stay at home for college, Chen knew without a doubt that USC was the right school for her.

After graduating from USC, Chen spent four years as a producer at KABC Los Angeles before finding an agent who helped her secure a job at a station in Dayton, Ohio, where she spent three years as a reporter. Having lived in big cities her entire life, Chen knew that a small news market wasn’t the right fit for her, and that a big city would allow for much more mobility in her career. Despite this, Chen said that her experience in Dayton was a valuable one and reaffirmed her passion for journalism and the hard work it requires.

“It’s hectic, but I love it, and you have to love it,” Chen said. “No one’s gonna work for you like how you’re gonna work for you.”

Chen spoke with the captive audience about how racism has played into her professional life, and told of once being advised by a news producer in Dayton that she wasn’t “relatable” to that particular viewing audience as an Asian-American. Chen also talked candidly about undergoing plastic surgery early in her career after being advised that her natural eye shape made her look disinterested during interviews. Still, Chen said that the majority of discrimination she has faced during her career has been sexism, rather than racism, but that she has seen this improve since the beginning of her career.

How Chen got her start in journalism was of interest to many students in attendance, and Chen said the best advice she could offer college students is to engage with higher-ups wherever they’re interning. Chen said that she wasn’t the best intern herself in college because she failed to do this, and only realized the importance of it years later when overseeing college students who mostly kept to themselves while interning.

“If one of them would just come to me and say, ‘I’m so-and-so, I’m an intern here, I want to do what you do and I’m here to help you with anything you need…,’ not only would I have benefited, they would have benefited,” Chen said. “When you go into an internship, you find the person in the newsroom whose job you want, or whose job you think you want when you graduate here, and say ‘I’m here to do whatever you need and help you with your job because I want to learn.’”

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A welcome from Dean Wilson

 

Dean Wilson Welcome

Public Affairs caught up last week with USC Annenberg Dean Ernest J. Wilson III, over in the converged media center in Wallis Annenberg. We asked Dean Wilson for a preview of what he’d be saying to students during the coming days. His reply is below.

Hello, my name is Ernest Wilson and I’m the Dean of the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. I want to welcome you to the Annenberg School, and especially here at the Wallis Annenberg Hall, which was just opened this summer. So for those of you who are coming for the very first time to the Annenberg School, you will be privileged to be able to learn and experiment in this great new facility. And for those of you who are already in the school, you will be able to participate, as well, in this wonderful setting. We still have the great building that we had before and now we have this wonderful new facility. I hope you had a great summer. You got some time off, some R and R, and now welcome back. We’re ready to go again for this school year. So, welcome back to Annenberg, welcome to Annenberg and fight on!

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Media Center open house on August 28

On August 28, there will be a open house at the new, converged Media Center at Wallis Annenberg Hall from 2:00pm to 5:00pm. Annenberg’s student media labs – Annenberg Radio Network, ATVN, Neon Tommy, Impact and Intersections will each have faculty and student managers at the Media Center to talk with anyone interested in learning more about what they do.

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New students #CaptureASCJ at Taste of Annenberg Event

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Master Class: Jackson Fellowship recipient Susan Valot on the Annenberg advantage

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Jackson Fellowship Recipient Susan Valot

Jackson Fellowship Recipient Susan Valot, photographed by Brett Van Ort

Master Class is a regular look at the work, lives and accomplishment of USC Annenberg’s master’s students.

When Susan Valot graduated from college, she wasn’t sure she needed an advanced degree in journalism in order to pursue her craft. But when, after 17 years as a working journalist, she began to think about returning to school and becoming the first in her family to earn a master’s, she wasn’t sure how that dream was going to become a reality.

Fortunately, after applying to USC Annenberg’s Master’s of Specialized Journalism program, Valot was awarded the Jackson Fellowship, which aims to train journalists in science and technology reporting. For Valot, who had always been interested in the medical field and in making scientific news more accessible to the general public, the fellowship was not just a perfect fit. It also played a huge role in making her graduate school education possible.

“There was no way I could have come here without the fellowship,” Valot said. “I was so happy. Happy and surprised.”

Valot has spent most of her career as a journalist and radio news reporter at stations such as KLON Long Beach and Los Angeles’ KNX, and was also the Orange County Bureau Chief at KPCC. Most recently, she’s been a freelance reporter at KQED’s The California Report and NPR’s Only a Game. After such an impressive–and award-winning–run, the idea of returning to school initially created some mixed emotions.

“I think it’s different coming in [to graduate school] as an older student,” Valot said. “But I think it’s great that there are several people in our class who are older.”

Valot earned her Bachelor’s degree at California State, Fullerton and currently teaches audio production at Saddleback College. Becoming more qualified and competitive as a higher education instructor was a driving force behind choosing to pursue her Master’s of Arts degree, and for choosing Annenberg, Valot said.

“I looked at other options, but they were very broad and very theory-based, and I liked that the Annenberg program was hands-on and focused,” Valot said. “You can use that more than you can use theory. Once you move onto a certain point you want that hands-on experience…and this program also looked lot more fun.”

Though Valot is a seasoned radio journalist, she’s looking forward to gaining more experience in print and digital journalism in order to become the most well-rounded journalist possible.

“I think this will help diversify what I do so I’m not just a one trick pony,” said Valot of the Specialized Journalism program. “I want to be able to do more than one thing well, and I think that’s what makes you stand out as a journalist.”

In addition to diversifying her skills, Valot also wants to narrow her field of focus to produce simple–but thorough–science and technology reporting, which is the ultimate goal of the Jackson Fellowship.

“As science and technology advance ever more quickly, we are increasingly dependent on people who can investigate specific research, innovations, trends, possibilities and problems, and then effectively present this information to a lay audience,” Thomas Campbell Jackson, who created the Jackson Fellowship with his wife, Penny Jackson, said in 2013. “We need talented explainers to engage audiences and transmit information in a largely nontechnical way that is nevertheless meaningful and actionable.”

After the M.A. Specialized Journalism Program concludes, Valot expects to continue as a freelance journalist, though in a much more, well, specialized capacity. That said, she’s open to any number of opportunities that may arise from her experience at Annenberg.

“A year ago if you would have said that I would be going to grad school at USC under a fellowship,” Valot said” I would have probably said you were crazy. I’ve always been one who takes the path that’s set out before me, so there could be opportunities that come up through this program in the next year that lay out a completely different path than I was expecting.”

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New Media Center is “one big sandbox for all our student productions”

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Chuck Boyles, director of multimedia technology for USC Annenberg, shows off the converged Media Center at Wallis Annenberg Hall

Willa Seidenberg of Annenberg Radio News is most looking forward to the impact the state-of-the-art complex will have on student and faculty collaboration.

The building will be complete for its grand opening on October 1, 2014.

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Minor Key: Introducing the brand new Media, Economics and Entrepreneurship minor

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Professor Gabriel Kahn, Co-Director of M{2e}, Dean Ernest J. Wilson III and  Professor Christopher Smith, Co-Director of M{2e}, attend an August 2013 event.

Professor Gabriel Kahn, Co-Director of M{2e}, Dean Ernest J. Wilson III and Professor Christopher Smith, Co-Director of M{2e}, attend an August 2013 event.

Minor Key is recurring look at one the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism’s many undergraduate minors.

In fall 2010, USC Annenberg Professor Paolo Sigismondi’s COMM 207: Economic Thinking for Communication and Journalism was offered for the first time, allowing students to examine media industries through an economic lens.

Annenberg Professor Gabriel Kahn recalls that at the time there was growing concern that students pursuing media careers had limited understandings of their chosen fields as businesses.

“The entire communication industry is being transformed rapidly and there was nothing here to contextualize the economic tectonic shift that’s taking place,” Kahn said. With that gap in mind, Kahn and Annenberg Professor Chris Smith developed an interdisciplinary program called Media, Economics and Entrepreneurship (M{2E}), which offered courses aimed at giving students what Kahn calls “wherewithal in how these [fields] are changing: what the challenges and opportunities are, what [students’] role in that is and the economic forces behind it.”

Though the classes were giving students an invaluable understanding of the media landscape, they didn’t produce a credential, which is where the brand new M{2E} minor comes in.

The minor is a partnership between Annenberg and USC Marshall’s Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. As such, the introductory courses for the minor include two business courses (BAEP 450 and BAEP 451) and two communication courses (COMM 207 and COMM 208).

The minor also offers numerous other unique courses designed to give students “business acumen specific to [media] industries.”

“Essentially, it’s a new way of packaging the curriculum that we’ve developed here over the last couple of years,” Kahn said. Smith added that the curriculum as a whole aims to “give students a mindset for appreciating the characteristics of an age of innovation like we’re in now.”

Kahn’s JOUR 469: Money, Markets and Media gives students who want to work in the media the technical vocabulary needed to talk about media business without having to take an introductory economics class.

“Everything is an economic issue, whether you want to cover sports, entertainment, the environment, whatever it is,” Kahn said. “So, this is a way to increase economic literacy among journalism students, and communication students who come for the same reason.”

In the spring, a course called “Monetization of the New Media” will be offered for the third time. The course looks at how we value media assets and content against the backdrop of changing distribution models.

“It’s very exciting because there are a lot of new opportunities to explore in terms of finding new revenue streams, but it’s also one of tremendous churn, lots of trial and error,” Kahn said.

What was once known as the television industry is now known as simply the video industry, which is what Smith will examine with students in COMM 432: American Media and Entertainment Industries.

The M{2E} minor is available to all USC students, including those majoring in Communication so long as they take primarily business and journalism courses from the curriculum.

Although Joann Park graduated from the School of Communication in May, she nearly every M{2E} course while at Annenberg and would have likely been a minor had it been offered.

“My understanding of how media and money connect definitely set me apart when I was applying for internships or jobs,” Park said. She is now working in the strategy department at Viacom and said that the majority of her co-workers have a finance or business background, so M{2E} was instrumental in preparing her for the position.

Overall, Smith argues that all students will benefit from the minor tracks industrial shifts taking place “across the industries represented by our entire school.”

“What makes Annenberg unique is that you can get an appreciation for the full spectrum of how these constitutive elements of the media business, the information business, add up together,” Smith said.

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