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Journalism faculty go back to school

Ten members of the Journalism faculty went back to the classroom the day after Commencement—not to teach, but to immerse themselves in the latest multimedia tools used in the field today. Thanks to a special grant to the School of Communication, the Journalism Department secured a weeklong seminar with the renowned Poynter Institute.

Poynter instructors and journalists Regina McCombs and Sara Quinn shared best practices, but they also tasked the group with a final project: to develop and publish a multimedia piece based on new skills honed during the week.

Journalism faculty who attended the seminar were: Mimi Edmunds, Ted Gup, Janet Kolodzy, Mark Leccese, Jerry Lanson, Paul Niwa, Tim Riley, Melinda Robins, Cindy Rodriguez, and Doug Struck. Journalism staff members Alexa Lash and Jon Satriale also participated.


Journalism Faculty Paul Niwa, Jerry Lanson, and Melinda Robins worked on multimedia news pieces as part of the Poynter Institute seminar.

Attendees split into two groups to work on multimedia projects. Each day, the teams were given time in between lectures to work on multimedia components, including graphics, maps, videos, and audio clips.

Leccese and Struck ventured out one day to shoot video and lock down interviews; Riley and Kolodzy conducted hours of research for a graphics piece; and Robins fine-tuned her graphics and polished an online quiz.

Associate Professor Lanson spearheaded the effort to bring the Poynter Institute instructors to Emerson. “They were terrific. I learned from them and from my colleagues who participated. We had some wonderful conversations about teaching techniques and about the industry,” said Lanson, who produced a video package on safe farming practices. “At the end of the day, good journalism is still about the storytelling, but this experience gave me the chance to get a better understanding of the tools available to tell those stories. I know more now in teaching students how to choose the right tool and how to integrate several in delivering the best stories.”
Last year, the Journalism Department revised the curriculum to reflect changes in the field.

“It was good for us to be students for a week and to work together on a project,” said adjunct faculty member Edmunds. “I have a clearer understanding of what our students experience—the challenges and the benefits—and that’s incredibly valuable to me as an instructor.”


Journalism staff member Alexa Lash ventured out to Boston neighborhoods to report on healthy housing.

Poynter instructor McCombs, whose expertise includes video production, said, “It was a real pleasure working with the Emerson Journalism faculty. They're smart, engaged, funny—and they get along! They took the discussions and ran with them, and got an amazing amount of hands-on work done in a short time,” said McCombs. “I look forward to seeing what projects they implement this fall with the students.”

And what happened to the final projects? Like most people involved in group projects with tight deadlines, the teams worked frantically up until the last minute. At 2:00 pm on Saturday, May 19 (deadline time), the teams posted and presented their stories. One group produced a multimedia page focused on the hazards of moving into another person’s space and the other group’s project focused on safe food consumption.

View the final projects:

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