New York Media Seminar prepares student for ever changing media

Paige McNeal

When media companies change the way they conduct business, professors at Kent State University must change curriculum requirements in order to prepare students to enter an ever-changing professional field.

Ann Schierhorn, a professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, observed this change in the media and took action.

Over the course of a year, Schierhorn created a class that required students to study how media companies are using new technologies and business models. After students complete the semester-long course, they spend one week in New York City to meet with top news organizations such as Time, The New York Times, Associated Press, People Magazine and Sports Illustrated.

“The goal of the New York trip is for students to meet with professional journalists,” Schierhorn said. “Students are expected to ask questions based on the research they had conducted prior to the trip.”

The New York Media Seminar class has been offered two times, beginning in 2010. This course is available to all four schools in the College of Communication and Information, but the majority of students that enroll in the course are journalism majors.

In order to enroll in this course, prospective students must complete an application, as well as an interview with Schierhorn, who aims to accept 12 students to the course.

When the course was offered in Spring 2012, Schierhorn had 11 students studying magazine journalism, photojournalism, public relations, advertising and information design. Two of the 11 accepted students were graduate students.

Ellen Kirtner, a public relations graduate student, said she had high expectations for the trip due to her major. She traveled to New York in hopes of learning more about how the media industry was functioning in the current economic and technological climate.

“These are the people and publications I might be pitching to one day,” Kirtner said. “To be a successful at P.R., you need to know the media extremely well, and I would say this trip absolutely helped me develop that.”

The most memorable meeting for Kirtner was the time spent at the Associated Press. Tom Curley, President and CEO of the Associated Press and longtime friend of Schierhorn, spent about two hours with the class. Curley took the time to answer any and all questions the class had about the AP and his experiences in the media industry.

The class also met with the director of public relations and marketing for, Gina Stikes, who is a graduate of the public relations program at Kent State.

Outside of meeting with media professionals, students had the opportunity to explore New York.

“Many times I think we get so segmented into our majors that we don’t take the time to get to know those outside of it,” Kirtner said. “So for me, it was fantastic to get to know magazine, newspaper, broadcast, photo and advertising students while learning things like how to navigate oneself on the subway system.”

Kirtner’s experience over the semester in this class reinforced what Schierhorn had hoped for the students to learn.

“This class is a great experience for students to not only learn about the media but learn about themselves,” Schierhorn said. “They also learn that you may want to go to New York, but you don’t start at the New York Times. It is your last stop.”

The next New York Media Seminar class will be in Spring 2013.

Contact Paige McNeal at [email protected].