INSIDE THIS ISSUE: Auburn Alumna in the White House PR Students Reach Millions Ric Smith’s New Frontier Robert Agne’s Research Journalism Student’s Volunteer Experience
Reporter The Auburn
Your inside source for information about the Auburn University Department of Communication and Journalism
Journalism Major Chasing Job, $50,000 “I’m not in it for the money. I want my work to be recognized and the pride of a job well done.” By Jason Hermansdorfer Despite having completed prestigious internships with NBC and MTV, creating and producing the Emmy Awardwinning show, “NBC Interns,” assisting in the production of ABC’s “Washington Business Tonight,” and having a feature segment air during an Auburn basketball game on ESPN U, Carrie Williams’ success has flown under the radar of the students and alum of Auburn University. However, all that may be about to change.
Carrie’s production of a video for the US Chamber of Commerce’s “Free Enterprise Video Contest,” is receiving recognition and collecting views unlike any of the other finalists. On June 2, the video with the most views will be awarded a $50,000 prize, and at the moment the senior in broadcast journalism seems in prime position. “Winning would be great for the University, for the department and for Eagle Eye News,” Carrie says. “I’m not in it for the money. I want my work to
be recognized and the pride of a job well done.” The contest, which is being hosted by YouTube, challenged people to produce short, feature-story videos exemplifying people who are creating businesses despite the current economic slump. Carrie’s piece features several different companies established by students at Auburn University. Carrie hopes the recognition from her success in the contest will raise awareness for Auburn University’s television station, Eagle Eye News, as well as help her land a job after she graduates in May. To view Carrie’s “Free Enterprise Contest” video, please search YouTube for “Auburn University students are free.” For more information on Carrie, visit www.CarrieLeighWilliams.com.
popuAuburn Alumna is American lation. Though the decisions affect each First Lady’s Press Lead made American citizen, By: Caroline Powell From the beginning of the 1800s, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has been home to some of America’s most influential leaders. It is within the rooms of the White House that important meetings are held and vital decisions are made on behalf of the
many will never step foot on its green lawn or pass through any of its 412 doorways; however, Jessica Bryant is an exception. Bryant, a Birmingham, Ala. native, graduated from Auburn University in 2006. Throughout her four years on the plains, she majored in public relations. It was through one of her leadership positions, that she was able to land a job that may seem unlikely to any recent college graduate-one that was located within the walls of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Bryant was fortunate enough to serve on staff at the White House for
PR Students Reach Millions Class Excercise Demonstrates Potential Reach
By: Grace Halbert Slightly more than 50 Auburn University public relations students have the potential to reach more than 67 million people through Facebook and Twitter. Reach, which is generally studied in advertising, is the total number of people exposed to a message during a given period of time. Robert French, an Auburn University public relations professor, is now illustrating how this phenomenon can be used to demonstrate the effectiveness of using social media and social networking sites to reach potential audiences. French had his 53 students in three classes provide statistics for the amount of contacts they had on Facebook and Twitter, the amount of friends that five of their friends on Facebook had and the amount of followers five of their Twitter followers had. With this information, he began averaging. Although not precise, his estimates for potential reach of his students are staggering. “When you talk about six degrees of separation, it used to be one to two,
two to three, and so forth,” said French. “Now it explodes because of the number of potential contacts.” What French shows with these statistics is that if these students, who have an average of 1,000 contacts, share information on Facebook and Twitter and then their contacts, who also have an average of 1,000 contacts, share that information again, within just three degrees of separation, 67 million people are exposed to that information. The implication of French’s findings is that social media Web sites are potentially just as effective, if not more so, than traditional media, such as television and newspapers. Now he’s trying to impart these findings onto his students. His Style and Design in Public Relations Messages classes are required to write weekly feature stories on student life for the Auburn Family Social Network, a site created by a previous class. French encourages students not only to submit their stories to their blogs on Auburn Family, but link to
a number of years as both Senior Trip Coordinator in the Office of Presidential Advance and as Press Lead for the first lady, Laura Bush. For Bryant, summarizing her time in Washington D.C. is quite a task. Each day at the White House was different, bringing both a variety of challenges and unique experiences. It was not rare for her to leave the White House close to midnight, only to find herself called to turn around and plan for the president’s emergency trip to another country. “Those were the days that sleep could not be found on the schedule”, said Bryant. When asked what her favorite part of her job was, Bryant stated,” The entire experience was incredible and I am beyond thankful for the opportunity I was given.” She gives much of the credit to her time spent at Auburn University. “Auburn has a wonderful public relations program that is filled with professors and advisors that deeply care about the success of their students.”
“Robert showed us that just by tweeting one link or story, you could reach hundreds of thousands of people,” said Laura Hancock, a senior in public relations. “It’s like promoting myself for free.”
the stories through their Facebook and Twitter accounts. If students point their friends and followers to their writing, they will simultaneously be promoting their own work as well as the Auburn Family Social Network.
Communication, Teaching & Research By: Caitlin DeForest Dr. Robert Agne is an associate professor in the department of communication and journalism. He has been teaching at Auburn University since the fall of 2004 and has recently received tenure. He teaches a number of communication course, bother undergraduate and graduate. While he enjoys the teaching side of being a professor, his passion is research. Agne’s research interest is in the ways people talk in everyday situations that shape who they are and how they regard others. He is particularly interested in situations when such talk is challenging for those involved. His research has examined topics of religious talk in crisis negotiation, 911 emergency telephone calls, social interaction in psychic readings, patient/provider relationships and social support among friends.
“The kind of communication research I conduct is research that focuses on everyday talk,” said Agne. “The key in terms of what I research would be known as ‘language and social interaction.’” Agne has recently finished a manuscript titled “Self Assessment as a Dilemmatic Communicative Practice: Talk Among Psychics in Training.” It comes from data collected by Agne while he was a participant-observer in an organization that offered classes to teach people how to do psychic readings. What he found particularly interesting was the meetings that took place after public readings where they got together to talk about how they did. In it, he makes the argument that when people assess their own performances and talk about themselves they encounter a dilemma. “The students came upon a communi-
The Voice of Jordan-Hare By: Amanda Pinto Whether you know him as a professor, the internship guy or the voice of the stadium, Ric Smith is someone that has made a lasting impact on the lives of many students, faculty and community members. Smith has been a dedicated faculty member in the department of Journalism & Communication since the fall of 1992. Before joining the Auburn family, Smith earned his B.A. at the University of South Carolina. He then earned his Master of Communication and Master of Education degrees here at Auburn. Smith has had the opportunity to work with four different Olympic games- Atlanta, Sydney, Salt Lake City and Athens. How did he get such an amazing oppor-
cative dilemma,” said Agne. “They wanted to value their achievements, but not brag. They wanted to be modest, but not humiliate themselves.” That manuscript will most likely appear in an upcoming edition of the “Southern Communication Journal,” a journal that publishes original scholarship that makes significant contributions to understanding the processes and consequences of human communication.
“Announcing is the next big thing for me,” says Smith. “It’s hard work but the people are terrific.” tunity? Auburn fell within the circle for the Atlanta games to look for recruits, said Smith. “Once you’re in, you do a good job and you have the opportunity to continue,” says Smith regarding how he got the chance to work with the other three Olympic games. He has seen students go to NYC, LA and even abroad for these internships. During the fall when Smith isn’t working in his office, teaching or abroad with the Olympics, you can find him in the football stadium. Well maybe you won’t be able to actually find him, but you will sure be able to hear him. Smith has been the voice of the stadium since the start of the 2006 football season.
Finding More Than Just a Story
“It takes zeal and the willingness to go forth, beyond one’s comfort zone in order to truly experience the stories before writing them.”
Christian Becraft’s major leads her to volunteering By: Megan Heslip Being a journalism major at Auburn University requires a bit more than clever wording and lucky breaks according to Christian Becraft, a senior in the major. Becraft is an example of how the journalism major at Auburn is not a program that just hammers out feature stories and sports exposés; it can shape perspectives and create opportunities. Becraft took advantage of each opportunity given to her by immersing herself in the stories she wrote and capturing them completely. In her feature writing class, Becraft wrote a story about Life
Savers Ministries, an organization that sends out a slew of buses to pick up underprivileged children from their neighborhoods each Saturday. Becraft actually rode the bus one Saturday and volunteered during the daily activities provided to the children by Life Savers. “Some of the neighborhoods were incredibly rough,” Becraft said. “Many people don’t realize opportunities to help with organizations like Life Savers are right in Auburn’s back yard in Opelika, Ala.” For another story she wrote, Becraft volunteered at the Community Market of East Alabama, a food bank where groceries are distributed at no cost to
Department of Communication & Journalism 232 Tichnor Hall Auburn University, AL 36849
Created by: Grace Halbert
families in need. This assignment, however, stuck with her and motivated her to volunteer nearly every Saturday for several months following. “Being a journalism major has led me to meet so many people,” Becraft said. “And I get to write about what I love.”