Wanda Cash

Three months after announcing intentions to place a Daily Texan news box in front of the Belo Center for New Media, the College of Communication is now saying it hopes to install specially designed and built boxes by January.

College of Communication spokesperson Laura Byerley said the college accepted three bids and will pick a contractor to construct the box next week. Normally Texas Student Media, the entity that owns The Daily Texan, provides boxes to locations free of charge.

“We’re hoping they’ll be installed by the first day of school in the spring semester,” Byerley said. “The news boxes are being designed. There isn’t anything new to report at this time.”

In September, Wanda Cash, the assistant director of the School of Journalism, asked college officials for a Daily Texan news box in front of UT’s newest building. Assistant dean Janice Daman told Cash it was the College of Communication’s policy to not have any news boxes, signage or paper in front of or in the Belo Center for New Media, the building that hosts the journalism school, for environmental concerns. The building is striving for the “silver certification” from U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

An article about this policy appeared in The Daily Texan, and following public outcry from media and former Daily Texan editors, the College of Communication reversed its decision. At the time, College of Communication dean Roderick Hart said it was never the intention of the college to ban the boxes.

Later in October, Hart said he was hoping to get the boxes installed by late November.

“They’ll certainly be operational by the start of spring semester,” Hart said in an October email.

Mark Morrison, former Daily Texan editor and Texas Student Media board member, said the slow response to placing a box in front of the new building has frustrated him.

“The University certainly does not seem to be able to move very quickly on issues such as this,” Morrison said.

He said the College of Communication should have set up temporary Daily Texan distribution areas in the Belo Center for New Media.

“There should be a high priority to get the Texan to communication college students, including journalism students, and if it’s going to take this long to get a permanent spot, why don’t they set up some temporary distribution points?”

Morrison said while the more permanent box is built, the newspapers could go in the building, on a table, in a rack or in a temporary box.

Jalah Goette, the director of the Texas Student Media board, said no one from the College of Communication has contacted her about the news boxes at the Belo Center.

After Friday, The Daily Texan will stop printing until Jan. 14, the first class day of the spring semester.

Printed on Friday, December 6, 2012 as: Belo Center to acquire custom-made newsboxes

Some UT professors are integrating technology and online tools like social media with traditional teaching methods to encourage participation and performance in class.

Psychology professors Sam Gosling and James Pennebaker have aimed to encourage student involvement in class by offering online discussions. This fall, the professors require students in their Introduction to Psychology courses to bring their laptops to class to take quizzes, complete assignments and participate in small discussion groups. Some professors in the School of Journalism have also embraced the technology route and require students to use social media in class.

According to an October survey by education services company Pearson and the Babson Research Survey Group, nearly 34 percent of 4,000 professors surveyed use social media in their teaching. The study found blogs and wikis were professors’ most preferred social media tools. Eighty-eight percent of faculty also use online video in their classrooms.

Gosling said he has seen an improvement in performance from students in his introduction class, a large-format class with more than 1,000 students in the course. He did not require students to purchase a traditional textbook, instead using online demonstrations, TEDTalks, journal articles and other online texts.

“Generally students like not having to buy a textbook,” Gosling said. “Especially when it comes to saving money.”

Wanda Cash, School of Journalism associate director, said encouraging student participation in big lecture classes is a difficult task.

“It is always difficult to encourage student participation because some students are shy about speaking up,” Cash said. “When students tweet comments I can look up on the Twitter stream and answer some of their questions without singling them out.”

She also requires students to tweet comments about lectures during class and created Facebook pages for her classes where updates and relevant articles are posted. The School of Journalism now requires students to create a digital portfolio, which Cash said functions as an online resume.

Journalism senior lecturer Robert Quigley said he uses a variety of tools in his social media class, including Facebook and Twitter.

“This way of learning is unusual for students, so getting them to participate is not that easy,” Quigley said. “I hope to get more participation in the class as students become more comfortable.”

Printed on Monday, October 29, 2012 as: Professors use Web tools to engage large classes

Photo Credit: Marc Morales | Daily Texan Staff

As the Belo Center for New Media works to gear students up for the new digital age of journalism, some faculty and students are concerned it is leaving the print age behind.

Citing environmental concerns, College of Communication administrators have stopped The Daily Texan from placing a news box in front of the $54.8 million Belo Center for New Media. Janice Daman, assistant dean of the College of Communication, told the School of Journalism last week that no news boxes are allowed in the Belo plaza or on the sidewalk. Since opening in August, the University’s newest building has housed the School of Journalism and the departments of advertising and public relations.

Mark Morrison, adjunct lecturer in the School of Journalism and a Texas Student Media board member, said he was disappointed and wants a Texan news box in front of the center.

“I think it is outrageous,” Morrison said. “We should make it as easy as possible for our students and faculty to get access to the Texan. The Belo Center is, after all, the home of the journalism school.”

The issue arose when Glenn Frankel, director of the school of journalism, asked journalism professor Wanda Cash to look into why there were no Texan boxes in front of the Belo Center for New Media. Daman informed Cash of the college’s policy regarding news boxes in an e-mail.

Daman said the building is environmentally friendly, and the presence of news boxes raises concerns that litter, clutter and debris could gather around the building.

The Belo Center for New Media is striving to achieve the “silver certification” from U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Signage, banners, plaques and other forms of paper have also been banned from being posted outside the building.

“It’s not a news box issue, per se,” Daman said in an e-mail to The Daily Texan. “That is important to understand.”

In her e-mail to Cash, Daman said the project team rejected a number of requests for material to be posted in front of the building in order to maintain “the look of the plaza.”

“You’ll notice that even the trash cans’ color was specifically chosen by the architect,” Daman said in her e-mail to Cash.

Daman also said there are Texan boxes nearby, one across Whitis Street at the Kinsolving Residence Hall and another across Dean Keaton Street.

Morrison said faculty and students at the Belo Center for New Media should not have to cross the street to pick up a copy of the Texan.

Frankel, director of the school of journalism, said he thinks it is a mistake not to put news boxes in front of the Belo Center for New Media.

“This is the School of Journalism and the College of Communication, and newspapers remain one of the fundamental platforms and vehicles of journalism,” Frankel said. “I would like our students to be exposed to journalism and all of its manifestations here — and that includes newspapers.”

A former editor-in-chief of the Texan from 1969 to 1970, Morrison said he did not face similar issues during his time as editor, but problems with placing news boxes outside of buildings have become more common recently. Last semester, the College of Communication did not let The Daily Texan place news boxes in front of the CMA building in the Walter Cronkite Plaza.

“I mean, to think that the Walter Cronkite Plaza does not have a Daily Texan newsstand, Walter would be rolling over in his grave,” Morrison said.

Cronkite, an icon in the industry of broadcast journalism, got his start at the Texan.

Susannah Jacob, editor-in-chief of the Texan, said she was disappointed there are no newsstands in front of the Belo Center.

“We make every effort with every issue to stop any confusion between The Daily Texan and trash,” Jacob said.

The Daily Texan, UT’s official student newspaper, has roughly 75 news boxes on campus and 100 off campus. The Texan also has about 175 off-campus distribution locations where business owners receive bundles of the Texan and then offer free copies to their customers.

The UT System’s policy on solicitation allow the individual universities to decide where news racks or news boxes can be located. While UT-Austin does not have a specific policy or rule, a spokesperson for Facilities Services said UT does not allow the location of boxes and stands to interfere with foot and vehicle traffic or building access.

Printed on Thursday, September 6th, 2012 as: No Texan news boxes available outside Belo

As the Texas Student Media Board of Trustees meets this morning to discuss specific issues regarding the circumstances surrounding the recent resignation of director Gary Borders, the organization also faces ongoing repercussions of financial and staffing problems that have accumulated over the past few years.

A budget deficit, falling advertising revenue and recurrent vacancies in critical leadership roles are affecting TSM’s ability to operate. While budget deficits and falling advertising revenue are problems that plague college media nationwide, some problems may have arisen from TSM’s unique structure.

“No other collegiate media entity that I am aware of has a governing board and University reporting [requirement],” said Jennifer Hammat, assistant vice president of student affairs and a former interim director of TSM.

A board of operating trustees governs TSM, which is not independent of UT. Its entities include The Daily Texan, TSTV, KVRX 91.7 FM, The Cactus Yearbook and The Texas Travesty, a humor publication. The director of TSM reports to both the vice president of student affairs and the TSM board of trustees. The Declaration of Trust for the organization states an endowment of $5 million would allow TSM to become an independent entity, but unless such an endowment is made, TSM employees are considered employees of the University.

The involvement of the Office of Student Affairs in employment matters has become a source of conflict at TSM in recent days. Borders told the Texan that Juan Gonzalez, the outgoing vice president of student affairs, forced his Feb. 8 resignation after Borders raised the ideas of selling TSM’s television and radio licenses. Gonzalez said he followed policy involving university personnel performance with regard to Borders’ resignation.

Wanda Cash, associate director of the School of Journalism and former TSM board member, said personnel performance issues were previously handled much differently, including when she was on the board.

“If there were performance issues, the vice president of student affairs contacted me, and then in consultation with the president of the board we worked out what had arisen,” Cash said. “This time that did not happen and that’s what is very troubling. The vice president of student affairs acted alone in terminating the director.”

Board member Tim Lott, vice president of audience strategy for the Cox Media Group, said the board was unaware there was a problem with Borders’ performance.

“I literally had no idea there was any sort of problem that could potentially end in a termination,” Lott said.

Borders was the third director TSM had seen in as many years. Kathy McCarty departed TSM in 2009 after serving 15 years. Hammat served as the interim director for nearly two years and participated in one failed search for a replacement until Borders was hired in summer 2011 after a second search. The board will discuss the possibility of appointing a an interim TSM director this morning.

Meanwhile, the search has not yet begun for a replacement for Jennifer Rubin, former multimedia adviser who departed in October 2011 after six months on the job.

Board member Mark Morrison, a lecturer in the journalism school, said it’s imperative a replacement is found quickly.

“We need to establish leadership,” Morrison said.

While facing absent leadership, TSM has a March 19 budget deadline looming. The organization is already facing the effects of a budget deficit.

The 2011-2012 annual budget has a projected $175,252 deficit that draws from the organization’s reserve fund that fell to $723,665.55 in November. Advertising revenue for TSM has declined from $2,326,411 four years ago, to $1,509,839 last year.

Texas Student Television is the only TSM entity budgeted for a profit this year.

The Daily Texan, which accounts for 89 percent of TSM advertising revenue, has seen changes in the three years since it last posted profit.

Since 2009, The Daily Texan has sold its press, outsourced printing and distribution, which resulted in staff layoffs and is making plans to reduce summer print production to once weekly. A second round of layoffs among TSM professional staff followed a reorganization in 2011.

Borders’ claim that he was dismissed because of budget-cutting proposals has led Cash to question the vice president’s role.

“The issue here is: is it right for the Office of Student Affairs to continue oversight as the president’s designee of Texas Student Media?” asked Cash.

Cash said she believes revising the Declaration of Trust to make the dean of the College of Communication the University’s designee to oversee TSM, instead of the office of student affairs, would be a better arrangement than the current one.

“In the College of Communication we have an understanding of journalism,” Cash said. “We have the right sensibility of journalism — of first amendment rights, of freedom of the press and our common disdain for prior restraint and censorship. I’m not sure the office of student affairs shares that sensibility.”

Regardless of who is the university’s designee for oversight of TSM, board president and third-year law student Lindsey Powers said the University needs to remember common courtesy when communicating with the board of trustees.

“I think a lot of people have forgotten how important it is to consult a board,” Powers said.

Kevin Hegarty, vice president and chief financial officer for the University, was recently appointed by President William Powers Jr. to investigate the circumstances of Borders’ termination.

Although Hegarty said the board should be granted the courtesy of consultation before terminating employees, he said because the University is the employer of TSM’s employees, Borders was subject to termination by the University. He said the University had more say in TSM’s operations than a yearly performance review.

“The role of the University is to counsel, to coach and to do what it can to support the board of trustees,” Hegarty said.

Hegarty said he hopes University and TSM relations improve after today’s meeting.

“The intent is to be very consultative and to come to solutions that are collaborative and cooperative,” Hegarty said. “Hopefully we can move forward.”

The School of Journalism approved the biggest change to its curriculum in almost 20 years to better prepare future journalists for the evolving media platforms.

The revised curriculum received unanimous approval by the 22 faculty members present at Wednesday’s faculty council meeting. If approved by the Office of the Dean of the College of Communication and the Office of the Provost, the new curriculum will be implemented 2012 at the same time the school moves into the Belo Center for New Media. The building will include a multimedia newsroom, an agency-grade creative room and a 75-seat briefing room.

The new curriculum is broken into five levels, beginning with foundation courses concerning current media technology and ending with professional practice courses that will help students build their portfolios, said Wanda Cash, a clinical journalism professor who led the curriculum reform committee.

“This curriculum change is a historic step forward for the School of Journalism,” Cash said. “We’ll be teaching the traditional, core values of journalism while we explore new ways to tell stories.”

School of Journalism Director Glenn Frankel said the current curriculum is grounded on specialized degree plans in sequences. Currently, journalism students select one of four tracks — print, broadcast, photo or multimedia.

Frankel said the narrow focus of the sequences is no longer the most sufficient method to prepare students because journalism has greatly evolved since the last curriculum change in 1993.

“The digital revolution has shaken journalism to its roots and changed its nature, the way we do it, the platforms we do it on and our relationship to the people we used to call the audience,” Frankel said. “The curriculum of a good journalism school needs to reflect those changes.”

Frankel said the new curriculum is streamlining the number of courses from roughly 75 to 50. He said the reduction will give students a more straightforward program to help them better focus their studies.

Ashlei King, a reporter for ABC News Abilene and 2010 UT broadcast journalism alumna, said she could have benefited from courses in different journalism platforms, such as photography, because she is required to do more than report.

“I have to write for TV, and I have to write for the web so the intro reporting courses I took have definitely helped,” she said. “If something comes up, I may use my cell phone to snap a picture but knowing how to operate certain camera kits is going to be necessary.”
 

Friends of Robert F. Schenkkan, founder of Austin public radio station, KUT, and TV station, KLRU, remember him as kind and determined. He died on Wednesday at 93 from dementia complications.

Clinical professor of journalism Wanda Cash said Schenkkan, who worked as a radio-television-film professor at UT for more than two decades, was an advocate of independent journalism and set the standards for public broadcasting today.

He advocated for the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, which led to congressional funding for broadcasting, said Cash, who was a friend of Schenkkan’s.

“The College of Communication owes so much to Bob Schenkkan,” she said. “He was a wonderful professor; he was a force to be reckoned with back then.”

KUT station director Stewart Vanderwilt said Schenkkan contributed to public broadcasting.
“There was a time shortly after the modern context of public broadcasting had been created that the Nixon administration set out to close it down,” Vanderwilt said. “Bob was able to lead public broadcasting though that period, and [it] came out the other side a much stronger service.”

Vanderwilt said he doesn’t know where KUT or public broadcasting would be without
Schenkkan.

“He got the license, helped find the first transmitter and he literally led the effort to put it on the air,” he said. “He helped it become as self-sustaining as possible.”

Schenkkan had a dream that KUT would offer a professional service with an educational purpose, Vanderwilt said.

“He wanted KUT to be a place to learn,” he said. “I’d say he put us on the path that KUT is continuing to grow from.”

Vanderwilt said he is disappointed he did not know Schenkkan longer.

“He was exceedingly gracious, and I think what could be overlooked in that is that he had a very strong resolve in anything that he was committed to and believed in,” Vanderwilt said.

The College of Communication is scheduled to hold memorial services for Schenkkan on March 6 at 2 p.m.