January 20, 2017

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Dr. Pat Miller, VSU Department of English Professor and Journalism Advisor

VSU Print Journalism Students Earn National Recognition

Nine Valdosta State University journalism students earned a Multimedia Basics certificate from the Poynter Institute. Pictured, from left to right, are Jada Dukes, Darla Dunning, Olivia Studdard, Evelyn Dunn, Julia Rodriquez, Kelsey Dickerson, Kayla Stroud, Hunter Terrell, and Dr. Donna Sewell, professor and interim head of the Department of English. Not pictured is Geneva Crooks.

VALDOSTA — Nine Valdosta State University journalism students just joined the best in the world.

During the Fall 2016 semester, students taking JOUR 3520: Essential Reporting Skills had the opportunity to earn a certificate in Multimedia Basics from the Poynter Institute, a nationally recognized journalism think tank dedicated to ensuring journalists remain on the cutting edge of their profession. To earn the certificate the students had to complete a series of online courses in how to tell stories using text, audio, images, video, and more.

Nine students earned the Poynter Institute certification. They are Geneva Crooks, Kelsey Dickerson, Jada Dukes, Evelyn Dunn, Darla Dunning, Julia Rodriquez, Kayla Stroud, Olivia Studdard, and Hunter Terrell.

“A Poynter certificate is one way the journalism program ensures its students remain a half-inch taller than their competitors,” said Dr. Pat Miller, who directs the print journalism program and teaches Essential Reporting Skills, which is offered in the fall and spring and requires students to complete a semester-long project that marries theory and application.

The Poynter certificate assures employers that VSU’s journalism students have enough background in multimedia to contribute to a news organization’s success from the first day on the job, Miller said.

“The ability to earn a Poynter certificate exemplifies the ‘value-added’ opportunities that the journalism courses offer students,” she added.

Similarly, students in JOUR 4540: Journalism in the Digital Age took advantage of a “value-added” opportunity when four of them presented “And the Beat Goes On: Using Digital Reporting to Build Beats” at the College Media Association’s national conference in Atlanta in October.

“The semester-long project in JOUR 4540 was to develop a presentation worthy of a national conference,” Miller said. “They did the research and design to create a wonderful, engaging talk.”

The students — Gabe Burns, Mayah Cantave, and Kyle Dawson — have now been invited to share that presentation at the Georgia College Newspaper Association meeting at Mercer University in February.

Miller said that each of these students holds a major position with VSU’s award-winning student newspaper, The Spectator. Burns is editor in chief, Cantave is managing editor, and Dawson is sports editor.

Miller believes this underscores the melding of theory and practice that VSU’s journalism program offers.

“One of the great pleasures of my job is to provide students in the journalism program with the opportunity to succeed academically and professionally,” she said. “We built the program, including its relationship with The Spectator, with that goal in mind.”

VSU’s journalism program is part of the Department of English, an arrangement that affords students the opportunity to receive intensive training in writing and rhetorical analysis. Students can pursue the news track that prepares them to succeed in community news organizations or the magazine track that prepares them for more generalized writing careers.

“Both tracks require practical application,” Miller said. “Students get the hands-on experience employers want by interning and/or by working with The Spectator; On Tap, VSU’s general interest magazine; or Omnino, VSU’s undergraduate research journal.”

Contact Dr. Pat Miller at pmiller@valdosta.edu or (229) 333-7353 to learn more.

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