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- MA, Journalism | Missouri School of Journalism, 2011. Thesis: “A Culture of Audience Engagement in the News Industry”
- BA, Journalism/News Communication | The University of Oklahoma, 1996
Engagement strategist, Mayer Media Strategy
2016-present | After almost 20 years as a working journalist and 12 as an accidental academic, I’m now a full-time consultant and freelance teacher and researcher. I help other journalists, students and organizations grow their understanding of audience strategies and measurement of success. In addition to individual newsroom clients, that work includes:
- Consulting fellow, Reynolds Journalism Institute | My work with RJI focuses on trust in news. I’m conducting user research into how people decide what news to trust, then turning that knowledge into strategies for newsrooms to test and adopt. Look at what we’ve found at TrustingNews.org, and drop me a line if you’d like to get involved.
- Adjunct faculty member, The Poynter Institute | I teach professional journalists both online for the NewsU program and at in-person seminars in St. Petersburg. I am currently developing a curriculum for a series of online classes covering social media strategy.
- Adjunct lecturer, University of Florida | I’m teaching an audience engagement class for journalism students.
- Community manager, Gather | I’m helping develop a platform to support the community of practice that has sprung up around the specialty of engaged journalism.
Full-time academic work
Director of community outreach, Columbia Missourian, 2011-2015 | I lead a new team of students experimenting with audience engagement in journalism. We use digital tools such as social media and web analytics, along with old-fashioned, in-person outreach and listening, to find out what’s most important to our community. We manage a section of the paper dedicated to readers’ voices. We invite the readers into the news process and into the newsroom. We identify the audience for specific stories and projects and take the content directly to those readers. We assess what works and what doesn’t and are continually evolving and restrategizing.
Design editor, Columbia Missourian, 2003-2010 | As the design editor for the Missourian, I taught visual storytelling to the students who produced the newspaper, both in print and online. I worked with students before publication to plan and craft story packages, teaching them to answer readers’ questions and reflect the tone of the stories through design techniques. I also worked with reporters and editors to discuss storytelling techniques and story forms during the information-gathering process. During my time as design editor at the Missourian, I prototyped a groundbreaking website for use with a one-of-a-kind publishing system emphasizing context in the news, working with developers to design a user experience that emphasized the unique nature of the system. I also prototyped and launched a weekend magazine-style newspaper and supervised the conversion of the newsroom from PCs to Macs and from Quark to InDesign.
Fellow, Reynolds Journalism Institute, August 2010 to May 2011 | I was fortunate to be selected as an RJI fellow, and the opportunity allowed me to focus entirely on one project related to the journalism industry. I explored the changing nature of the relationship between journalists and their audiences. Journalism today can be more of a conversation than a lecture. It’s more relational, or at least it can be. I took a cross-disciplinary approach to researching the topic of engagement. As part of that work: I interviewed journalists about what engagement meant in their newsrooms. I looked to fields like marketing, anthropology, civic activism and community organizing to find out what journalists, who are relatively new to this concept, can learn from those experts about what it means to engage, and how we know if we’ve done it successfully. I hosted a symposium on metrics for engagement. Along with the Center for Advanced Social Research, I designed a phone survey about audience engagement that was delivered to more than 500 community newspaper editors. I created a classification system for talking about engagement in journalism. I wrote a discussion guide for newsrooms, to facilitate conversations about audience.
Associate professor, Missouri School of Journalism, 2009 to 2015. Assistant professor, 2003-2009 | In my 10 years at the journalism school, these are the courses for which I have been the professor of record.
- J4700/7700: Participatory Journalism is a class I transformed to make it an integral part of the Columbia Missourian newsroom. Since 2011, the students in this class have served as the community outreach team for the newspaper. Students learn about how to focus on the audience and how to turn news from a lecture into a conversation. They study social media, analytics, the culture of the Internet and how the relationships between journalists and their audiences are changing.
- J4152/7152: I created this one-hour version of Participatory Journalism, to meet increasing demand for the class and to offer a version that did not include staff time at the Missourian.
- J4502/7502: I proposed, developed and taught a new course, Multimedia Planning and Design. It filled a huge void in the journalism course offerings and continues to serve students across journalism specialties. A second section was recently added because of high student demand.
- J4500/7500: For seven years, I was the primary professor of record for the class called News Design. The class teaches layout, visual storytelling and story framing, along with graphic design principles as they relate to journalism (typography, grids, color, etc.).
- Independent study students: I developed an independent study course for students who want to continue with more advanced design studies after finishing the intro course. I supervised 50 such independent study opportunities for designers, and I have supervised 10 students as part of my community outreach work.
- Graduate committees: I have served on project or thesis committees for more than 20 Missouri School of Journalism master’s students.
- Faculty mentor: I have been selected as a faculty mentor for Honors Convocation by 15 graduating seniors.
- I taught a for-credit class in web design for journalism students at Shanghai University in June 2012.
Pre-Mizzou newsroom experience
Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 1998-2003 | The Herald-Tribune is a New York Times Regional Newspaper Group publication that produced five zoned editions a day and jumped on the convergence train quickly. When I arrived there in 1998, the paper had already launched a 24-hour cable news channel in the newsroom. While at the Herald-Tribune, I served as assistant news design editor, features designer, kids page section editor, business news editor and copy editor.
Wichita Eagle, 1996-1998 | The Eagle was a Knight-Ridder publication at the time I was there. I was a member of the presentation team, and I worked my way through just about every section while I was there. I was one of the principal front-page designers and also redesigned the Family section.
The Paper, Summer 1996 | As a reporting intern, I was one of three staff writers at a weekly in Juneau, Alaska, that emphasized in-depth news reporting.
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Summer 1995 | I was a copy editing intern on the features desk.
The Oklahoma Daily, 1994-1996 | I was fortunate to discover my love of journalism while working for a campus newspaper that operated under high standards and was recognized as one of the best nationally. During my time there The Daily was also named the second-best Oklahoma newspaper with a circulation greater than 9,000 (college and professional papers included). I rose through the ranks from copy editor and copy desk chief to reporter to managing editor and editor in chief. The most I ever learned quickly about journalism was during the one-week period following the Oklahoma City bombing, which we covered as a local story under my direction.