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From the Dean


Spring Break

Brian Lamb with students

Picture a beach. Or a woodlands trail. Something calming and contemplative. Or fun and frivolous. Now change the channel. That's not my spring break picture.

My Media, Politics & Government students and I careened around Washington. The White House, Capitol Hill, Supreme Court, State Department, C-SPAN, the Newseum and more.

Props, as they say, to the students who saw the DC spring break as an opportunity, not an imposition. It was a course requirement. Many USC students do have academic pursuits on their spring break itineraries. A brief study abroad. Service learning. Even a behind the scenes expedition with the dean, drawing on his 20-plus years as a Washington correspondent and a Rolodex that still seems to work.

I'll open the doors, I told them. You provide the curiosity. Brian Lamb, I warned, will have questions for you if you don't have questions for him. He did. After 35 years taking us inside government, C-SPAN's founder is himself an institution and a font of knowledge about the way Washington works, or doesn't.

The Newseum, in a fashion, takes us inside the media. It's more than a museum. We sat in on the taping of Al Jazeera America's prime time show one evening. Yes, Al Jazeera has moved into the Newseum studio that's been used by some of the US networks for their broadcasts. And why not? News is not a national province. How many readers, viewers, listeners are whitewashed by a solitary perspective? Al Jazeera America is a new combination daily news and magazine show aimed at American cable audiences. A good number of my former CNN colleagues are working at Al Jazeera with Joie Chen anchoring the show. Except for the logo, it's rather similar to other magazine shows. I'm not sure, though, that similarity is necessarily an advantage.

My students are a mix of majors — journalism, public relations, political science, business and dance. What television network could not use a choreographer? All seemed to appreciate what differentiates US news media from those around the world. The Newseum's global map showing the disparities in freedom of the press made an impression.

This was underscored when The Daily Gamecock recently published a student's column urging Americans to value the First Amendment. Evelyn Robinson, a third-year English and history major at USC, had also visited the Newseum on her spring break. As she put it, she'd "bypassed the alluring Florida sunshine in favor of a cultural stay in Washington." You can read her column here.

Ms. Robinson is already a student of the U.S. Constitution. At the Supreme Court bookstore, I always pick up copies of the Constitution for my students. It's pocket-size but powerful. Durable, too. I've got one copy that I've carried around for years.

And you can't go on spring break without bringing back a souvenir.

Charles Bierbauer

Bierbauer signature



College News

Christine ShelekShelek receives civic engagement award

Christine Shelek, coordinator of Cocky's Reading Express™ in the School of Library and Information Science, is the 2014 recipient of the South Carolina Civic Engagement Professional Award from the SC Campus Compact. Shelek has made outstanding contributions to the CRE program's growth and development, bringing Cocky and his student volunteers to every county in South Carolina. She will be recognized at an awards ceremony on April 4.


Weir named interim director of J-school

Dr. Tom WeirDr. Tom Weir has been named interim director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, effective July 1. He will succeed Dr. Carol J. Pardun, who is returning to the faculty at the end of this school year.

Dr. Weir served as director of the journalism program at Oklahoma State before coming to USC in August 2008 as an associate professor of advertising. He earned his master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Missouri. Dr. Weir has 18 years of experience in newspaper and radio sales and sales management in Kansas and Colorado.


Nominations open for SJMC Alumni Awards

Please consider nominating a candidate for Distinguished Alumni or Outstanding Young Alumni. Deadline to nominate someone is April 10.

Distinguished Alumni have graduated from the School of Journalism and Mass Communications in 2003 or earlier and have had significant careers in or out of the communications industry. Outstanding Young Alumni have graduated in 2004 or later.

Nominations are easy — just think of someone who has made an impact in his or her career or community. You can even nominate yourself. Fill out this quick form and the SJMC faculty will consider nominations, voting on the finalists. All awardees are recognized at the school's alumni awards dinner in the fall. Nomination form arrow


Join the college's LinkedIn group

The College of Mass Communications and Information Studies has launched its official alumni group on LinkedIn. This group allows college alumni and friends to make connections through its enhanced networking opportunities. Requests for membership will be verified. Join here arrow




Public relations professor to be inducted into hall of fame
By Liana Miller, communications intern in the development office

Dr. Shannon Bowen, an associate professor of public relations, will be inducted into the PR Measurement Hall of Fame, administered by trade press P.R. News. She, along with six others, will be celebrated this month at the PR News Measurement Conference in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Shannon Bowen"I didn't know I was being considered, so I was surprised and quite honored," said Dr. Bowen. "It was a big deal because I'm an academic and a majority of the hall of fame members are professional researchers."

During her career, Dr. Bowen has conducted vast amounts of research on public relations ethics, ethical analyses and training for organizations, executives and public relations professionals. A sampling of her accolades includes membership in the Arthur W. Page Society, the 2011 Jackson Jackson and Wagner Behavioral Science Research Prize, serving as a board member of the International Public Relations Research Conference and numerous top faculty paper awards.

Most recently, Dr. Bowen co-edited the Dictionary of Public Relations Measurement and Evaluation Research, which is a free resource available online to help researchers to standardize research terms. She explains that without a standard set of terminology, it is hard to share research with other parties.

"Years ago, I worked with data collection and statistics.," Dr. Bowen explains. "You can make statistics say anything you want them to say. People would request me to change the data all the time. But the ethical question is what should you do with the data? Having the ability to articulate why you can't change this idea is important."



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Deans' and Directors' Lecture with Pamela Wright
"Citizen Engagement"
Thursday, April , 7 p.m.
Hollings Special Collections Room
Inside Thomas Cooper Library

Pamela Wright will discuss the innovative efforts at the National Archives to provide access to the permanent records of the federal government.


For more information,
contact Annie Lambert at lambert@sc.edu
or (803) 777-6791.






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