By Selia Schneider
Assistant Professor Jan Boyles recently returned from an externship at The Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C. She was one of six professors who participated in the 2016-2017 Scripps Howard Foundation Visiting Professors in Social Media Program. The program connects faculty to practice to better prepare them to teach students.
“This program is to help educators learn what the demands of the industry are so we can help students,” Boyles said. “We want to make sure that our students are best positioned for success.”
While on her externship, Boyles sat in on editorial meetings where she learned about the leadership and production of the newsroom. She also spent time with their award-winning investigative team.
“The Post and Courier was such a wonderful experience,” Boyles said. “They let me have total access to the newsroom and I can’t thank them enough.”
For Boyles, a typical day was flexible based on the news that day and consisted of starting off work at 8 a.m., sitting in on editorial meetings and shadowing different reporters daily.
“I was a journalist 15 years ago and to see how much the newsroom has changed is incredible,” Boyles said. She enjoyed getting to really live and breathe news while completing the externship.
She learned first-hand how news and information delivery is being transformed, which included spending time with the social media team to see how integrated social media is in news.
“It’s the blood and heart of the newsroom,” Boyles said. She knew from her research that social media was an important aspect but getting to see how it has changed the landscape of day-to-day practice surprised her. She hopes to convey to her students that, for social media, there is not just one single strategy.
“Each platform has its own audience and you kind of have to tailor your message to each audience,” Boyles said.
In addition to social media, Boyles was impressed by the integration of video and how print reporters are expected to have skills previously required only of broadcast journalists. She is planning on including that aspect into future classes as well as reporting in real time. Previously she had students work on polishing their narratives, but now she will also encourage her students to use Twitter as a “reporter’s notebook” and push out news as soon as they have it.
The second part of this opportunity will include someone from The Post and Courier visiting Iowa State for three days in either October or April.