#ANNinsta Instagram Competition Launches

anninsta-instagramInstagram Competition!

We want to see the new Wallis Annenberg Hall from your perspective, from working in the Media Center to meeting with friends. Starting November 1, use #ANNinsta to tag your Instagram* photos from the new building and you could win a gift certificate to ANN’s new Illy Café!

Every other week we will select one winner.



The Rules:

  1. Upload your photos to Instagram and include #ANNinsta in the caption
  2. You can enter the contest as many times as you like
  3. Any type of inappropriate content will be disqualified
  4. Entries will be judged on creativity, school spirit and overall aesthetic quality
  5. Judging takes place every two weeks and one winner will be selected
  6. Competition is open to USC Annenberg students only

*Make sure the “Photos are Private” option in your account is set to OFF.

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Courageous Women in Journalism Speak to USC Annenberg Students

The 2014 recipients of the International Women Media Foundation, Courage in Journalism Awards meet with director Willow Bay to discuss the work they cover internationally.

The 2014 recipients of the International Women Media Foundation, Courage in Journalism Awards meet with director Willow Bay to discuss the work they cover internationally.

Every year the International Women’s Media Foundation award three female journalists the Courage in Journalism Awards for creating outstanding stories — many times in the face of danger.

On Tuesday, USC Annenberg was honored to host this year’s recipients in a special event where the women described the types of work they produce internationally. During the conversation, director Willow Bay asked the women to describe a story that was particularly moving, but it was a difficult task for the guests to identify only one.

Solange Lusiku Nsimire, editor in chief and publisher of Le Souverain, recounted an unsettling story of a Congolese woman who had been kidnapped by rebels and raped on several occasions.

Lusiku Nsimire said that in the Democratic Republic of the Congo the real revolt dealt with the rights of women. To avoid the insecurity, the media and most people have chosen to remain silent in the face of injustice, she added.

“Africa is a continent that is meant to be outspoken,” Lusiku Nsimire contested.

According to Lusiku Nsimire, 80 percent of the media in the Congo is made up of radio and television, but there is hardly a written press. She felt she had to take a stand and write down everything that occurs in her country for the benefit of future generations.

However, the written news comes with its perils. When Lusiku Nsimire writes the truth as it is, people have come up against her. What’s worse is that there are very few women, if any, who edit newspapers in the Congo, and when they do these women are greatly criticized, Lusiku Nsimire said.

The forum opened with videos introducing each woman, their background and the journalism they do in some of the world’s most dangerous countries. In each case, every speaker said that they faced danger and received several threats throughout their coverage.

Like the rest of the speakers, Lusiku Nsimire has felt a sense of discouragement as a journalist but in those moments she has reminded herself why she decided to be in the business.

“I realize that I chose to do this profession and that I do this for my country,” Lusiku Nsimire said. “I want help them build the collective memory.”

Solange Lusiku Nsimire recounts a story she covered in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that deeply moved her.

Solange Lusiku Nsimire recounts a story she covered in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that deeply moved her.

The IWMF started in 1990 when a group of women journalists in the District of Columbia noticed a large gender gap in news media. They became cognizant of their colleagues who were reporting around the world, and realized that those women needed recognition.

Elisa Munoz, executive director of the IWMF, explained that in addition to the journalism awards, the organization offers programs around the world to advance the skills of women interested in journalism.

Furthermore, IWMF host’s international reporting trips to areas that are either under-reported or reported poorly, Munoz explained.

“Last year we took four groups of women journalists to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to report on anything except rape and war,” Munoz said. “They reported on small businesses, environmental conservation, the aid in that country and really anything that portrayed the DRC as a society rather than a warzone. We will be doing more of that in the years to come.”

Myah Williams, a masters in specialized journalism candidate, attended the conversation and was touched by the stories shared. Despite the heavy subject matter, she said it was important for the speakers to openly discuss the issues they face in the field as women.

Its very sobering to hear the experiences of other women from different parts of the world who are in the field that I’m studying to be in,” Williams said. “These stories need to be told.”

Brankica Stanković, a Serbian journalist for TV B92 and editor of the investigative program “Insider,” said that since 2009 she has required security guards to be with her at all times due to the large volume of death threats she has received.

According to her biography on the IWMF website, Stanković’s investigative work has revealed crime, corruption, and links between mafia, politics and business that shocked Serbia. The Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs completed an official assessment on her safety and concluded that she was at risk and needed protection.

Stanković admitted having guards with her at all times has been difficult because it has drastically changed her daily life. Completing tasks as taking out the trash is out of the question unless her guards accompany her. Moreover, it has affected her career.

“I have been followed by the security for five years now,” Stanković said. “It’s very hard to work under these circumstances because it’s hard for me to meet sources.”

Arwa Damon, CNN senior international correspondent, has been shot on multiple occasions while reporting, she explained. She knows that she has become a target in a sense and has been required to alter the way she reports stories.

“You have to worry about your drivers, your translators, your local staff, the cooks, and anyone who works at a hotel that you’re associated with because what you’re doing is fundamentally putting them all at risk,” Damon said.

When professor Mary Murphy asked the women how they shut off their own emotions when covering a story, Damon said that to a certain extent, she does not. She explained that there has to be a certain level of compassion in every story.

“Part of our responsibility as journalists is to somehow take the sheer overwhelming emotions other people are going through and present it,” Damon said. “If you’re not feeling what a human being is confronted with and if you don’t have compassion, how are your suppose to translate that to an audience?”

For Bay, having Annenberg students listen to the stories shared during the event was necessary for them to understand how fortunate they are.

“It’s a luxury for students and professional journalists who live and report in this country,” Bay said. “Hearing their stories draw inspiration, strength, courage and wisdom.”

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USC Alums and Family Donations Help Name Wallis Annenberg Hall Features

Listed are some of the donors who gave towards naming a room or object in the ANN building. (Susana Guerrero)

Listed are some of the donors who gave towards naming a room or object in the ANN building. (Susana Guerrero)

On October 1, Wallis Annenberg Hall officially opened its doors to visitors who had the chance to see the daily tools students use, in addition to the unique features of the new building.

One of those important features is the the donor wall thats to the right of the Forum on the first floor. Its height is impressive as long silver wires — that hold white panels — expand beyond the second level of the new building. What is more remarkable are the white panels that highlight names of distinct individuals who made large donations towards the completion of the ANN building.

Of the various donors the wall mentions, a few stand apart not only for their generosity but also for the successful careers they have set out for themselves.

Diana O’Leary, associate dean of external relations, explained that some of these special donors include; Marc Brown, Jacki Cisneros, Jeff Smulyan, Marilou and Mark Hamill, and Bob Gold.

“Alumni and parents are very passionate about the next generation and they want to make sure that our students have the tools to succeed,” O’Leary said.

The second level of the new building provides several viewpoints of the expansive facility. Seating areas surround the perimeter of the second floor, classrooms are arranged throughout and a large, bright golden section with crisscross motifs lies to the side of the staircase.

That marked section holds offices in addition to a large conference room named after ABC News Anchor Marc Brown. The conference room naming was something particularly exciting for the school, O’Leary explained.

“We’re ecstatic that our alumni are coming back to support the building because they’re inspired by the future of what Annenberg can do for its students and journalism,” O’Leary said.

Brown graduated with broadcast journalism from USC. He credits Annenberg for his successful career and decided to give back to the school to upkeep the invaluable training and education that he gained here as a student, Brown explained.

“As a proud supporter of the school, I hope to help cultivate the generations of excellent young journalists who will learn their craft here,” Brown said. “Whatever form journalism takes in the decades to come, those who shape it will come from here.”

Brown also congratulated the school on its grand opening ceremony with fellow USC Annenberg alumnus and ABC Eyewitness reporter, Elex Michaelson, from the ABC7 studio.

Some of the donors aforementioned had the opportunity to name building features that held a particular significance to their careers, as alumna Jacki Cisneros did. In honor of her long career behind the assignment desk at NBC, she named the 360-degree desk in the media center.

“I just had to have the assignment desk, because that’s what I did,” Cisneros explained in an interview last year.

Cisneros was excited about students having a professional assignment desk, O’Leary explained, and about the potential of students becoming marketable in the workplace from their training at USC Annenberg. Cisneros received a degree in communication.

Jeff Smulyan stands with Dean Ernest Wilson outside the voiceover booth he named in the media center. (credit: Diana O'Leary)

Jeff Smulyan stands with Dean Ernest J. Wilson III outside the voiceover booth he named in the media center. (credit: Diana O’Leary)

Like Cisneros, Jeff Smulyan, USC alum and member of the USC Board of Trustees, named the voice over booth inside the media center because it held a special place for him.

“That is a nice tribute to his passion for the radio industry,” O’Leary said.

Smulyan expressed his admiration for the school and was impressed by how much it has developed over the years.

“Today’s USC Annenberg School is on the cutting edge of every area of media — no one else is doing the same caliber of work in journalism or communications,” Smulyan said. “I’m happy to do my part to support a field that is so near and dear to my heart.”

Smulyan is the chairman, president and CEO of Emmis Communications, which hold radio and magazine properties all over the United States. This was why he was excited to be part of the newsroom, O’Leary explained. He graduated with a degree in communication from USC Annenberg and later received his law degree at USC Gould School of Law.

The media center has certainly gained a lot of attention not just from students and faculty who use it, but from donors who have named rooms and sections within the space. Furthermore, the process of naming was not limited to alumni.

Proud USC parents like Marilou and Mark Hamill demonstrated their continual support for the school by naming a meeting room on the second floor of the media center.

“Marilou has been an active volunteer with the university, and they were excited to do something to support the school.” O’Leary said

On the grand opening celebration, alumni toasted Wallis Annenberg Hall in studio A and they expressed their thoughts on the new building.

“I think the building itself is really cutting edge, and what it does is personify the whole feeling of the college of communication,” Scott Tamkin, president Nest Realtors and a member of the USC Annenberg alumni advisory board, said. “Students today come out with a convergence of technology and it is absolutely incredible.”

Bob Gold stands with Dean Ernest Wilson as he proudly displays the editing room he named in the media center. (credit: Brett Van Ort)

Bob Gold stands with Dean Ernest J. Wilson III as he proudly displays the editing room he named in the media center. (credit: Brett Van Ort)

Bob Gold, founder, president and CEO of Bob Gold & Associates and USC Annenberg alumni advisory board member, named one of ten individual editing rooms of the editing suite in the media center. He was also one of the several alums who visited during the grand opening ceremony, and he gave insight to why he gave back to his alma mater.

“A school like Annenberg is creating an environment to give people the skills to say: ‘Lets communicate together. Lets get on the same page and lets make wonderful things happen,’” Gold said. Gold holds a master’s degree in communication management from USC Annenberg.

Alumni contributions have not only helped with the construction of the new building, but they have also aided in bringing capital towards the school’s fundraising initiative of $150 million. Upon reaching the $100 million mark, Dean Ernest J. Wilson III gave special thanks to donors for the accomplishment.

“The outpouring of support, from more than three thousand sources, is a tribute to the extraordinary work being done by our students, alumni, faculty and staff,” Wilson said last March.

According to O’Leary, the school has met $113 million out of the total amount USC Annenberg set out to meet by the year 2018.

“It really has been a once in a lifetime opportunity to bring our alumni back to campus and show them the great opportunities that still lie ahead,” O’Leary said. “They are giving back to pay tribute to the wonderful experience they received here and how it made an impact on their careers.”

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Digital Hollywood 2014: Annenberg Innovation Lab Talks Spreadable Content and Fan Engagement

digital hollywoodResearchers from the Annenberg Innovation Lab spoke on a panel at the 2014 Digital Hollywood fall conference on Oct. 21 to discuss “re-imagining the entertainment Industry” through assessing the “spreadability” of content, looking at how fans engage with content and utilizing new platforms for storytelling.

The Digital Hollywood conference, held at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Marina del Rey, brings together entertainment and technology professionals and top executives to discuss industry developments and trends.

Annenberg Innovation Lab director Jonathan Taplin, Professor Henry Jenkins, lab creative director and research fellow Erin Reilly, and lab technical director and research fellow Geoffrey Long presented research from the Lab’s Edison Project, created to observe trends and disruptions in the media and entertainment business, to a room full of industry professionals and hopefuls.


Jonathan Taplin

The panelists’ view — as Taplin put it — is that “this should be the greatest time in the history of the media and entertainment business.”

Taplin pointed out that in the past, there has always been a “gatekeeper” between the content creators and the customers, but with companies moving forward with their own content distribution applications — most recently HBO, ESPN and CBS — they can now “talk directly to their customers.”

“We’re shifting from a world of distribution to one where circulation plays an ever more active role,” Jenkins said, adding that circulation is determined in large part by the fans and their ever-increasing engagement with media content.

A big part of the Edison Project’s research is figuring out how the entertainment companies can leverage this engagement to foster what Jenkins calls “spreadability.”

Henry Jenkins

Henry Jenkins

“Spreadability is that capacity of content to be taken from one place to the other, to be inserted in conversations and for those conversations to begin to accrue value and meaning,” Jenkins said.

He uses “spreadability” in place of the widely-used term “viral.” Describing content as viral “implies a model of infection” and likens it to a virus that one infected person passes on to all their friends, Jenkins said.

“That’s not a really helpful way of thinking about all the decisions we make on a daily basis of all the media that passes through our inbox,” Jenkins said, adding that the choices people make in terms of attaching themselves to content and sharing content matter.

He cited Susan Boyle’s 2009 rise to fame as an example. She gained notoriety while on “Britain’s Got Talent” — a show that was “not designed for the U.S market.” But, videos of her performances were pirated, uploaded to YouTube and shared across the internet. Her popularity resulted in her album becoming Amazon’s best-selling album for that year.

Another example is the popularity of Korean pop music in the U.S., brought on by Psy’s “Gangnam Style” in 2012. Jenkins said that this reflects a trend toward “young people seeking diversity,” but also the growth in “grass roots” circulation — which relies on bottom-up, individual decisions about spreading content.

“Grassroots circulation was anticipated to be much smaller scale, more niched, more dispersed than broadcast circulation,” Jenkins said. “Instead, we’re starting to see numbers that suggest quite the opposite.”

He added that people should anticipate a media environment driven primarily by circulation because the public, the fans, now decides what content gets local and national attention, as well as economic value.

As such, the lab has also examined fan behavior. Most recently, they looked at engagement by sports fans — specifically soccer fans during the World Cup. Through interviewing fans, gathering big data from social media and conducting a global survey, they were able to begin reframing fan engagement.

According to Reilly, people can no longer be segmented into marketing demographics, such as age or gender, so rather than looking at individual behavior, they looked at the behavior of fan communities.

This led them to what they call the Eight Logics of Engagement: social connection, entertainment, advocacy, pride, play, mastery, immersion, and identification.

AIL Logics of Engagement Graphic

Graphic from the FANS.PASSIONS.BRANDS Study which “decoded” global fans through the Logics of Engagement.

For example, Reilly brought up “Gangnam Style” again as an example of “play” because kids learned the dance that went along with the popular song. Reilly said that these behaviors are connected to what motivates people to spread media so that other fans can also engage.

Erin Reilly

Erin Reilly

In addition to observing engagement, they are also looking into new ways to measure it and use it. Though the mainstream audience likes to be entertained and appears to be a big influencer, in many cases some of the “most important [fan] communities are really niche” and also have a lot of potential for media spreadability.

The key, Reilly said, is to determine how to “leverage engagement with a more nuanced approach,” keeping masterful fans immersed, but also bringing in the more “casual connectors” — the mainstream audience.

Taplin used HBO’s “Game of Thrones” as an example of varying logics of fan engagement. There are some fans who are deeply immersed and want to know everything about the show, while others engage more casually, using  a basic knowledge of the show for social connection with others.


Geoffrey Long

Long described the changing model of fan engagement as a shift “from attention to intention.” His research has looked at how this change, as well as the evolution of new platforms – such as Oculus Rift, virtual reality, connected homes and cities – will affect the future of storytelling.

He says that a big part of addressing audience changes is determining how to best cater to different users and audiences and how to create opportunity for all of them.

“When we start to figure out how to create a sustainable ecosystem for both big companies, as well as small storytellers, we’ll use these kinds of new screens, new business models, new opportunities for collaborative authorship and all of us work together to build these things,” said Long. “I think that’s where the next massive generation of the entertainment industry is going to be.”

You can watch their panel here:

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Quoted: USC Annenberg in the News

640-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.

Chatman_Dayna_106.ashxA Modern Family With Issues

Doctoral student Dayna Chatman was quoted in a New York Times story about ABC’s new show “Black-ish” and its honest approach to racial issues.

Chatman—whose research looks at representations of African-American women in pop culture—said that most shows with character diversity create a dynamic that “makes whiteness the norm.” She added that reality television shows present over-the-top performances by African-Americans, which isn’t “particularly representative or flattering.”

“We are hyperaware of how people and the media perceive us, and who gets it and who doesn’t get it,” Chatman said, citing Dave Chappelle as an example of misusing humor to “destabilize racial stereotypes.”

USC Annenberg clinical professor Daniel DurbinWhere Giants are concerned, Dodgers fans have a spite to the finish

A Los Angeles Times column quoted professor Dan Durbin about the rivalry between the Giants and the Dodgers.

Durbin, who is also the director of Annenberg’s Institute of Sports, Media & Society, said that Los Angeles sports fans consistently expect to be front-runners, an idea that has been amplified by the Dodgers’ “free-spending ways” in the last few years.

He added that fans expected the Dodgers to at least get past the first round this year.

“I think that the fact that the Giants have now been in the World Series in three of the past five years contributes to their frustration,” Durbin said.

Smith_Stacey_news.usc.eduWill There Ever Be a ‘Good Wife’ Effect on Politics?

Research by professor Stacy Smith and the Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative was featured in a Daily Beast story about whether shows like “The Good Wife,” which feature women seeking leadership roles, will influence women to do the same in real life.

In her team’s examination of the 500 top grossing films from 2007 to 2012, they found that “2012 featured the lowest percentage of female speaking characters across the years studied.”

“Looking at all female speaking characters, approximately a third are shown in sexually revealing attire or are partially naked in 2010 and 2012,” Smith said. “The trend is more pronounced with regard to teens, as over half are shown sexualized in the most recent year evaluated in this study.”

KaplanThe Facts of Ebola

Professor Marty Kaplan wrote an article for Jewish Journal about how people process facts contrary to what they believe and how it relates to the spread of information about Ebola.

“Contrary facts don’t change our minds, they just make us dig our heels in harder,” Kaplan wrote. “We process information both rationally and emotionally, and our emotional apparatus gets there faster.”

He also cited a recent story about the Syracuse University Provost uninviting a Washington Post photojournalist from a workshop at their communication school because he had been in West Africa three weeks prior. Despite having monitored his temperature for 21 days—the incubation period for Ebola as determined by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—he was still not allowed to come.

Kaplan, who had mixed reactions to the story, added that “there’s plenty of Ebola ignorance going around and plenty of political and financial incentives to keep it that way.”

northSocial media scavenger hunts, a la @HiddenCash, increasingly popular

Karen North, director of Annenberg’s Digital Social Media program, was quoted in a Daily Bulletin story about the popularity of social media scavenger hunts.

She said that the idea of scavenger hunts on smartphones has been around for at least five years.

“People are drawn to challenges, especially those that seem easy and you can win,” North said.

She added that social media and smartphones have given businesses, groups and event organizers “a really clever way” to get exposure.

“It gets the community at large to generate content promoting whatever your cause is,” North said. “Peer recommendations are a powerful social tool now. Word of mouth is now exponential because now if I put it up on social media it goes to everybody I’m connected to and many of the people that they are connected to.”

‘Nightcrawler’ shows how the news worm has turned

Norman Lear Center

A 2010 study by USC Annenberg’s Norman Lear Center was mentioned in a Los Angeles Times article about Dan Gilroy’s new film “Nightcrawler.”

The article focused on the director’s choice to select Los Angeles as the setting for the film due to his fascination with the city. He explained the people in Los Angeles have been fed with stories about graphic, violent stories.

The study by the Norman Lear Center upholds that statement based on their findings that show that Angelenos prefer crime at the top of their news compared to most markets.

“Among the eight stations studied, researchers found that ‘one out of three broadcasts led with [crime].’ ‘Nearly half of those were about murder, robbery, assault, kidnapping, property crime, traffic crime and other common crime.’”

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Student ventures from USC to attend Blackstone LaunchPad Demo Day in New York

Annenberg Innovation Lab’s program has drawn interdisciplinary students from across USC.


The Blackstone Charitable Foundation has chosen four USC student ventures to participate in the first annual Blackstone LaunchPad Demo Day in New York City from October 26 to October 28. The student ventures were evaluated and selected based on their product, business model and scalability.

The four distinguished USC student ventures and their leaders are: Walid Abdul-Wahad of Desert Farms, America’s first retail camel’s milk company; Jordan Banafsheha of Bread & Butter, which connects food retailers with a daily food surplus with underserved communities; Drew Park of Q-Cigarettes, a low-tech, low-cost tool to improve the delivery of nicotine polacrilex gum to quitting smokers; Joshua Ahdoot of Piggy, which helps users save money by depositing all change from purchases back into their bank accounts.

Each student venture invited to participate arose out of Blackstone LaunchPad, a co-curricular, experiential, campus program designed to introduce entrepreneurship as a viable career path and develop entrepreneurial skills and mindsets through individualized coaching, idea and venture creation support.

The Blackstone LaunchPad program at USC operates out of the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and has quickly become a hub that has attracted interdisciplinary students from across the university. Modeled after a program at University of Miami and further developed and expanded by The Blackstone Charitable Foundation, the program is currently available to more than 350,000 students at 15 colleges and universities nationwide. Since its establishment at USC in Spring 2014, USC Blackstone LaunchPad has advised more than 70 ventures and 200 students.

The Blackstone LaunchPad Demo Day is being held as part of a wider convening of representatives from Blackstone LaunchPad programs around the country. During the conference, these representatives will share best practices, discuss strategies for program implementation and innovation, and — as part of the Demo Day segment — showcase the most promising student ventures from their respective schools.

Participants at the event are competing for first, second and third place prizes of $25,000, $15,000, and $10,000, respectively, to be used for further business development. Judges at the event include Stephen A. Schwarzman, Blackstone’s Chairman, CEO, and Co-Founder, and other Blackstone executives. Schwarzman will also deliver keynote remarks.

“Entrepreneurship is central to Blackstone’s culture, and is the single most effective way to spur economic growth and job creation,” Schwarzman said. “The new and innovative companies participating in the Blackstone LaunchPad Demo Day have the potential to impact their local economies, and we look forward to seeing them do so.”

“Through the partnership between The Blackstone Charitable Foundation and USC Annenberg Innovation Lab, we are able to provide all USC students with the resources, space, counsel and development they need to build their venture from an idea into a concrete, scalable business,” said Erin Reilly, Director of Blackstone LaunchPad USC. “In only two short months since our soft launch, we are proud to have four of our student teams nominated as part of the 20 finalists.  This bodes well for the continued success of Blackstone LaunchPad USC in fostering the entrepreneurial spirit and empowering our students with resources and connections.”

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A Navy Veteran Navigates the Masters of Communication Management

Courtesy of Darlene Lovell-Parker

Courtesy of Darlene Lovell-Parker

By most accounts, Darlene Lovell-Parker’s path to the USC Annenberg online Masters of Communication Management Program, from which she will graduate this spring, was anything but conventional.

“I was a late bloomer,” Lovell-Parker said, recalling an academic career which spans several decades and continents.

A U.S. Navy veteran and government employee for the past 30 years, Lovell-Parker spent more than six years obtaining her Bachelor’s degree while working around the world in the military, and tried out several different Master’s programs before enrolling in the MCM program at USC.

The decision to attend USC Annenberg, according to Lovell-Parker, came about somewhat indirectly and coincidentally, the result of just one of the many memorable experiences which define her academic and professional career.

That experience? Happening to be seat mates, while on the flight back from President Obama’s 2009 Inauguration in Washington, D.C., with none other than Annenberg Dean Ernest J. Wilson III.

For Lovell-Parker, who had been enrolled in a Master’s program at another school at the time and was unhappy with her field of study, the rest was history.

“When I circle back to the happiest moments of my life, they had to do with communicating or writing,” said Lovell-Parker, who grew up in Compton, Calif. and fondly remembers attending USC cheer camp and being the editor of her high school’s newspaper as a teenager. “I did a lot of investigating and soul-searching, and I decided that this program had all of the rigor I wanted and more.”

As a full-time government employee for the Department of Defense, Lovell-Parker has found that the online MCM program works well for her life, allowing her to work on her Master’s degree from her home in San Diego. She admits that this style of learning did require something of a learning curve, though, and she was initially skeptical about enrolling in an online program.

“I never thought I would want to do online classes, but I find this to be my preference,” Lovell-Parker said. “In hindsight, I’ve realized that I don’t do well in brick and mortar classroom settings, and when I look back at [my other Master’s programs,] I had less contact with that professor than I do with my professors now, and less access than I do now.”

Transitioning from a successful career as a high-ranking Naval officer―having served her ship as the first female command master chief, the most senior enlisted sailor in a U.S. Navy unit―to being an older college student also took some adjusting for Lovell-Parker.

Courtesy of Darlene Lovell-Parker

Courtesy of Darlene Lovell-Parker

“In the military, by the time I hit my thirties, I was an authority on so much. I had all the answers,” she said. “Now, I don’t have all the answers. There are a lot of really sharp people in the program, and the whole school, and it’s a very humbling experience. It’s making me grow so much more than I thought I would at this time in my life.”

The MCM program, which typically takes about two years to complete, is a trying undertaking for most students. But for Lovell-Parker, who works full time as a command security manager and program manager for the Navy’s higher education transition program, the experience has been particularly demanding.

Though Lovell-Parker isn’t yet sure exactly how she’ll utilize her degree come May, she knows that, whether she continues her current job as an advisor in the Navy College Program for Afloat College Education, which helps sailors earn degrees while deployed, or pursues another career opportunity, she’ll be more than prepared.

“I selected this program because what I’m learning now, I could apply to anything,” Lovell-Parker said. “When I go on to my next job, whatever it is, I’ll be able to utilize it. I’m one of those folks that I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.”

Much of this preparation was due to the support system Lovell-Parker was able to find in her advisors and instructors, including Dr. Cynthia Martinez, Dr. Mathew Curtis, and especially her advisor, Dr. Daniela Baroffio, whom she describes as her “lifeline” in the program.

“Darlene is the ideal graduate advisee; she is self-motivated, emotionally resilient to learn, and intellectually driven,” Baroffio said.​ “It is a pleasure working with a student who takes responsibility for her objectives as well as her struggles in reaching these objectives.”

The network of mentors and colleagues that Lovell-Parker has developed at Annenberg has been key to her success, she said, as an older student in an online Master’s program.

“They are just so brilliant, and the students are brilliant, too,” Lovell-Parker said. “It has not disappointed. I don’t have a social life anymore, but I’m enjoying the ride.”

In the meantime, as she enters the home stretch of the program, Lovell-Parker is constantly motivated to push through any challenges she may face by an experience she had many years ago, while enduring boot camp as a new Navy enlistee.

“We had to run in boot camp, and it was really difficult. I remember one of the other girls saying to me, ‘You might as well stop now because you won’t make it anyway,’” Lovell-Parker said. “I think your tenacity, your persistence, pushing beyond, ‘Oh, I’m tired, I’m stressed,’ your inner desire to push through it; I think that has a lot to do with your experience in life.”

Lovell-Parker is not the first member of the Armed Forces to complete an online MCM at USC Annenberg. Read about Army Maj. Mike Nicholson, who earned his master’s degree online – from Afghanistan.

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Storify: USC Annenberg Welcomes Back Alumni For #ASCJHomecoming

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Beyond the Headline: USC Annenberg to Host Symposium on Ethics in Sports


By Kimiya Shokoohi

The bursts of intrigue in the conversation surrounding ethics in sports have at times flown into the national narrative, gaining traction in popular culture, like something of a curve ball.

To provoke thought and meaningful action, the USC Annenberg Institute of Sports, Media and Society is hosting a series of academic and professional experts Oct. 21-23. The symposium on sports ethics begins Tuesday afternoon.

For John Russell, the conversation began over 15 years ago. In the grass fields and baseball diamonds in and around Vancouver, Canada, the philosophy professor’s interest in the study of sports ethics took off at speeds greater than the success rate of his recreational softball career.

“We needed a lot of resilience, let’s put it that way,” Russell said of his former softball team composed of philosophers far more skilled in contributions to their post-game discussions than to their records at-bat.

“After the games, we would have these wonderful talks about what had happened,” Russell said, realizing then the prevalence the philosophy of law took in the practice of sport. Today, Russell bridges those connections as an instructor at Langara College on sports ethics.

Most recently, the national discourse on the morality of sports in society has come in the form of scandals and abuses in personal and professional capacities. For a handful of academics, the ethical questions raised through the parallels of sports and society have long been worth deciphering.

USC Annenberg clinical professor Daniel DurbinThe director of the USC Annenberg Institute of Sports, Media and Society, Daniel Durbin, noted that as with any form of communication, ethics is an integral part of sports.

“We ask athletes to embody our highest ideals in performance and skill. When we create stories of their feats, we place them on a special level as performers and human beings,” Durbin said. “Yet, sports stories are littered with ethical problems, cheating, illegal drug use, violence against others, exploitation.”

The symposium is scheduled to examine topics ranging from bioethics to resilience and adversity, ethics in sports media, and a moral critique of cage fighting — namely, the ethical dissonance in mixed martial arts.

Nicholas Dixon, Alma College professor of sports philosophy and invited speaker at this week’s symposium, discourages using athletes as the source for all criticism.

“It’s a calm, measured critique of practices … the spectators as much as the participants,” Dixon said.

For Dixon, who has been exploring all aspects and actors involved in cage fighting, the moral question begs to sway fighters and fans away from the sport voluntarily rather than pushing for a hardline approach. The aim, he said, is not to ban the sport altogether but to encourage ethically acute decision-making.

“It is very morally problematic to engage in an activity where the explicit goal is for two people to injure each other,” he said.

USC visiting professor, Sigmund Loland from the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences, adds modern sports are a reflection of our tenancies as a society at-large. Yet Loland is skeptical of certain roles sports have come to play in modern society.

“It’s a common misunderstanding to attribute elite sport to a kind of moral ideal – that elite sport athletes should be the heroes of society,” Loland said.

Then there is the science of sport. The emerging concerns around bioethics.

Professor Miller Brown from Trinity College is scheduled to speak on a relatively new wave of concerns surrounding performance enhancement. Brown and researchers in the field of bioethics are taking a look at the dangers and possibilities of genetic manipulation.

“If you can do it for the treatment of diseases then you can do similar kinds of things for the enhancement of human capacities,” Brown said.

Brown’s presentation this week on bioethics and the future of sports aims to explore and raise questions around the values and dangers of these developing technologies. He predicts students will be seeing its effects come to fruition within their lifetime.

“Journalists are going to have to make some major efforts to understand the technologies to give reasoned assessments of what being done to protect people from their use,” said Brown, who is not necessarily an opponent of the technological advancements but rather its dangers.

A panel of experts on ethics in sport media, including Lindsay Rhodes from the NFL Network, Ed Goren from Fox Sports and former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete, are also slated to participate in the symposium.

“I’m extremely thankful to USC for putting on this symposium,” Russell said. “People will hear a number of thoughtful and provoking talks.”

“If they come to the symposium they will hear issues that they’ve undoubtedly thought about,” he said. “They will hear them discussed at a deeper level than they’re familiar with.”

RSVP for the symposium here. The event listings can be found here.

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