Annenberg Alumni Kick Off ‘Meet the Directors’ Series in Orange County

(From left to right) Sarah Banet Weiser, Jacki Cisneros, Willow Bay, Gilbert Cisneros, and Dean Ernest J. Wilson III,

(From left to right) Sarah Banet Weiser, Jacki Cisneros, Willow Bay, Gilbert Cisneros, and Dean Ernest J. Wilson III,

The inaugural event in the USC Annenberg Alumni Relations “Meet the Director” series was hosted Aug. 27 at the Orange County home of Annenberg alumna Jacki Cisneros and her husband Gilbert Cisneros.

More than 50 alumni, parents and friends were in attendance, including Dean Ernest J Wilson III and Annenberg’s two new directors, Sarah Banet-Weiser and Willow Bay.

Click through to view the full Flickr album of the event.

Annenberg Alumni Relations will host the next event in its “Meet the Directors” series on Oct. 16 in New York City.

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Minor Key: Sports Media Studies Minor Examines Sports Industry and Impact on Society

Professor Dan Durbin and Dean Ernest J. Wilson III attend an Annenberg Institute of Sports, Media & Society event.

Professor Dan Durbin and Dean Ernest J. Wilson III attend an Annenberg Institute of Sports, Media & Society event.

With USC’s reputation for excellent athletic programs, it’s no wonder some students have aspirations to work in the ever-growing sports industry.

For this reason, Professor Dan Durbin proposed USC Annenberg’s Sports Media Studies minor in 2009. It gives students the opportunity to study sports from a number of perspectives, specifically those pertaining to media and society.

According to Durbin — who also founded the Annenberg Institute of Sports, Media & Society —  students examine the impact of sports on society, how athletes can be a gage of social change, and “how they can successfully communicate about sports and sell sports to a larger audience.”

He added that the popularity of the minor now recognizes two things: “One, that many students have an interest in working, one way or another, in the sports industry, and two, that sports have become a really serious subject for academic study.”

The introductory courses for the minor are COMM 381: “Issues in Contemporary Sport,” and COMM 383: “Sports, Communication and Culture,” which satisfies the university’s diversity requirement and is taught by Durbin.

“It really is the foundational course for getting people to really understand the language of sports study and how sports have evolved as a mediated form of communication,” Durbin said.

From producing sports programming to marketing and branding for sports organizations, students who complete the minor have a number of career options within the sports industry.

“This degree will highlight your special skills and your special knowledge in an area that will be valuable to you, both in helping you find jobs, but also for breaking through glass ceilings in your current employment,” Durbin said.

Evan Budrovich, a senior Broadcast Journalism major, said the minor has given him “an in-depth look at some of the unique perspectives that forge sports with culture, ethics, politics and a whole slew of other important issues.”

He added that while his favorite class was JOUR 380: “Sports, Business and Media in Today’s Society” with Professor Jeff Fellenzer, the entire curriculum is “engaging, entertaining and provides a great avenue to channel [his] passion for sports with educational and worthwhile information on some critical topics.”

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Dean Wilson Welcomes New Graduate Students to ‘Incredible Annenberg Family’

Dean Ernest J. Wilson III gives new grad students a "Fight On!" at the Dean's Reception Sept. 4.

Dean Ernest J. Wilson III gives new grad students a “Fight On!” at the Dean’s Reception Sept. 4. To see more images from this event, click through for the Flickr gallery.

As the second week of the semester comes to a close, dozens of USC Annenberg’s new graduate students received a warm welcome — and some words of wisdom — from Dean Ernest J. Wilson III Thursday night.

“You’re coming into a school right now which is in the midst of positive change, of almost revolutionary change and innovation,” Wilson told students. “Take advantage of not only benefiting from that change, but tell us what you think that change should be.”

Incoming students to Annenberg’s graduate and Ph.D programs gathered at Town & Gown for a catered reception, welcome address by the Dean, and the opportunity to get to know one another by connecting and collaborating across areas of study.

“You are colleagues to one another,” Wilson said. “While you are here, I want you to learn from one another. To be willing to teach one another. To be empathetic toward one another, and to support one another.”

About a dozen Annenberg faculty members, including new School of Communication Director Sarah Banet-Weiser and new School of Journalism Director Willow Bay, were also in attendance at the reception.

The high caliber of Annenberg’s faculty, Wilson said, is due to the fact that they’re as multi-skilled and diverse as the talented students they teach.

“What I love about this faculty is we have a lot of everything,” Wilson said. “That mix of practice and scholarship, and commitment and excellence is something we take very seriously here at the Annenberg school.”

As many of those in Annenberg’s graduate programs hail from out of state or out of the country, Wilson encouraged students to fully utilize USC’s proximity to the culture and amenities of Los Angeles, and Annenberg’s connections around the city and beyond.

“We reach out and have networks in Los Angeles, in California, across the United States and globally,” Wilson said. “So please take advantage of this incredible Annenberg family, this network of networks that reaches out into the world.”

The Dean also emphasized how the new Wallis Annenberg Hall, and all of the talent and opportunities housed within it, are helping to further the ‘Annenberg Advantage,’ which differentiates Annenberg from other schools of its kind.

This is facilitated, Wilson said, by encouraging open communication between faculty and students, breaking down barriers between the different Annenberg programs, and, most recently, by creating a new combined media center in which students can work collaboratively.

“It’s all converged in this wonderful new building,” Wilson said. “And that’s kind of a metaphor for what we consider to be the Annenberg advantage. We want you to communicate across the silos.”

This multidisciplinary approach to graduate school was particularly appealing to students like Diana Crandall and Jessica Harrington, who are both a part of the inaugural class of Annenberg’s new M.S. Journalism program.

“I really liked the fact that it was a multimedia program, and that it was innovative,” Crandall said of choosing Annenberg’s M.S. Journalism program. “It really seemed applied rather than theoretical.”

For Harrington, whose journalistic interest lies primarily in broadcast news, Annenberg’s commitment to training students as journalists by offering them practical experience while still in school was the biggest selling point.

After visiting USC and seeing for herself just how student-run news outlets like Annenberg Television News operate so similarly to real-world newsrooms choosing Annenberg became an easy decision.

“When I started to look for a journalism program, I definitely wanted something that was hands-on, in the field,” Harrington said. “The practical experience that we’re getting here … that’s exactly what I was looking for, so as soon as I saw that, I knew this was the only school I wanted to go to.”

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Quoted: USC Annenberg in the News

quotedAt USC Annenberg, we don’t just cover the news, we make it. “Quoted: USC Annenberg in the News” gathers a selection of the week’s news stories featuring and written by Annenberg’s leaders, faculty, staff and others.

And Now, the News Through Catholic Eyes

Diane WinstWinston_200pon, who holds Annenberg’s Knight Chair in Media and Religion, was quoted in a story from The Atlantic on the Boston Globe’s recent launch of a separate website for coverage of the Catholic Church.

Winston pointed out that it seems to be a counter-intuitive venture.

“We all know that in the U.S., religion is in a steep decline,” Winston said. “The future of Catholicism, based on the stats we have, isn’t really rosy.”

But when comparing it to sites specializing in technology or economics, Winston added that some people may see it as an equally valid category.

“It’s hard for news media, which is determinedly secular in nature, to admit that religion is a motivating factor for people,” Winston said.

HollihanJerry Brown heads into gubernatorial debate with large lead over Neel Kashkari

The Sacramento Bee quoted Professor Tom Hollihan in a story about Thursday’s debate between Gov. Jerry Brown and Neel Kashkari, who is in need of the exposure. According to a recent Field Poll, less than 60 percent of likely voters have an opinion of Kashkari with only two months until the election.

But the debate would temporarily give Kashkari “equal footing” with Brown.

“Debates are the most important moments in campaigns, of course,” Hollihan said prior to the debate. “They’re the moment when the public is invited to sort of pay attention to the candidates, and they see them on the same platform, so they’re able to see them in direct comparison to each other.

However, the debate aired at the same time as the first nationally televised game of the regular NFL season.

Hollihan added: “I don’t anticipate this debate’s going to attract a big viewership or frankly that it’s likely to have much of an impact on the election, absent some incredible gaffe.”

northCeleb hacking scandal shows digital vulnerability

Karen North, director of the Digital Social Media program, was quoted in an Associated Press story about the recent hacking scandal in which countless nude photographs of celebrities were released on the internet.

North warned that all digital media, regardless of privacy settings, can be made public.

“What you think is private is public, and what you think is temporary is permanent,” North said. “Once you share it with somebody, you no longer control the intellectual property.”

Willow-BayInternet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

Voice of America wrote a story about the brand-new Wallis Annenberg Hall, highlighting the technology and tools that can be found in the new, state-of-the-art media center.

Because of the tools available, School of Journalism Director Willow Bay said that students have to be able to produce content across all platforms.

“Today we expect journalists to be able to use all sorts of technological tools to research stories, to vet that research, to analyze that research,” Bay added. “We expect them to be fluid in multimedia storytelling skills. We expect them increasingly to be their own marketing and distribution arms, to get their stories in front of audiences and to spread those stories as far as they can.”

Serena-ChaHowever, media center executive director Serena Cha added that with new technology and tools, journalists need to be aware of the new ethical questions that come with it.

“In the journalism arena we’ve got to consider carefully. How do we teach students to use the tools responsibly? Yes, new technology often raises new questions because you’re able to manipulate reality even more than before,” Cha said.

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USC Annenberg: New Building, New Program, New Era

A new era has commenced at USC Annenberg, complete with a new building that Professor Larry Gross called “the perfect instrument for research, for teaching, for scholarship, for journalism that fits the 21st century.”

And a big part of that, according to Professor Kjerstin Thorson, is continually updating what Annenberg is teaching, as well as being aware of what Annenberg can learn from the students.

Professor and Annenberg Innovation Lab research fellow Henry Jenkins added that students benefit from applying what they learn in the classroom to real world situations. Programs and centers such as AIL, the Media, Economics and Entrepreneurship program (led by Professors Chris Smith and Gabe Kahn), and the USC U.S.-China Institute (led by Clayton Dube) are constantly innovating and providing students with those opportunities.

Annenberg also works with other schools at USC create innovative learning opportunities. The nine-month Master’s degree program in Arts Journalism was created in partnership with the five other schools at USC that offer courses in art. The program is the largest university-wide partnership in USC history, according to program director and professor Sasha Anawalt.

But, it’s the partnerships outside of USC that Dean Ernest J Wilson III is most proud of. Annenberg students have endless opportunities to learn from partners all around the world as the communication and journalism industries continue to change and evolve.

Assistant Professor Taj Frazier and Professor Rebecca Weintraub shared the view that Annenberg benefits from and embraces constant innovation in media. Weintraub added that Annenberg provides “a way of delighting in the change that this world is bringing.”

“USC Annenberg: New Building, New Program, New Era” is part of a series of videos looking at the many exciting changes underway at the school. For a look at USC Annenberg puts communication, in all its forms, at the heart of its mission watch Communication at the Center.

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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.


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.


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


At USC Annenberg, we don’t just cover the news, we make it. “Quoted: USC Annenberg in the News” gathers a selection of the week’s news stories featuring and written by Annenberg’s leaders, faculty, staff and others.

The Yo App

HernandezR_121x163.ashxAnnenberg 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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