From the Acting Chair

Howard Kleiman

We’ve had a great spring semester marked by unseasonably warm weather—until we got to May—and a great deal of productive activity. One of the department highlights was our second annual “Distinguished Alumni” event. We brought five wonderful alums to campus for meetings with classes and a well-attended panel discussion in our television studio. The alums included Laura Melillo Barnum (’87) former executive for Yum! Brands and former deputy press secretary for President George H.W. Bush; Chris Molnar (’04), producer for “NCIS: Los Angeles; Lynn Smith (’01), anchor for “Weekend Express with Lynn Berry Smith,” on HLN; Jeff Pegues (’92), homeland security and justice correspondent for CBS News; and Amy Storer Scalia(’04), editor and publisher of Cincy Chic and Cbus Chic.

In other event news of the spring:

  • Visiting journalism faculty member Terence Moore, a long-time sports columnist, spoke to students and faculty about Twitter’s new role in journalism.
  • New Yorker writer George Packer, a guest of the Humanities Center, joined journalism professor James Tobin for a discussion about how writers process and explain the experience of war.
  • Stacy Skotzko Goers (’08), product manager for social and podcasts at National Public Radio, visited three classes and joined students for lunch.
  • MJF students led three press conferences with guests of the university Lecture Series: Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos, creators of Netflix’s “Making of a Murderer;“ leadership expert Drew Dudley; and basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

In our classrooms, the PRISM capstone students worked with Safe Passage, a five-county social service agency in Indiana in the fall and for the spring they worked for the acid survivors network which provides support services to survivors of acid violence. We also for the first time fielded a national Bateman competition team. Our video production capstone, “Capstone Pictures” produced a terrific short film entitled, “In the First Degree,” that premiered in the Wilks Theater at the Armstrong Student Center before a large and enthusiastic audience.

Sixteen of our journalism students distinguished themselves in the annual Mark of Excellence regional competition of the Society of Professional Journalists. Students brought home six first-place wins and seven awards as finalists. First place went to Reis Thebault, Connor Moriarity and Justin Maskulinski, "Final Column" for the Now What? web site; Mariel Padilla, Ohio death penalty feature, on the Oxford/Miami site; Thebault and Emily Tate, coverage of Miami presidential search for The Miami Student; Moriarity, "Now What?" site feature work; A.J. Newberry, editorial cartoons, for The Miami Student; and Thebault, Modern Day Robin Hood, for the "Now What?" site.

Our traveling programs continue to be a unique signature of our department. This past January we again offered our Inside Hollywood, Inside Chicago and NYC Media programs and per the student and faculty feedback, they were all highly successful. In Hollywood, students had sessions with Conan O’Brien, Alex Trebek, Mark Harmon and numerous other television and film professionals, while students in the NYC Media program had a chance to speak with Miami alum and Fox News host Bill Hemmer and also attend tapings of “The Daily Show” and “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”

We also have confirmation that Miami’s photography unit which took up residency in Williams about five years ago, will be leaving our building this December. That will allow us to repurpose the space they’ve occupied with two new classrooms and offices sufficient to house all MJF faculty and staff in Williams. We’re looking forward to the first time in the history of the MJF/Communication departments that everyone will be in one building!

This week we’ll be graduating 269 MJF majors, a record number of majors from our department. And to keep the universe in balance, we’ll be greeting scores of new MJF majors during summer orientation.

This is my second and last newsletter as acting chair as Richard Campbell resumes his chair duties this summer. It’s been a privilege serving as chair for the year.

Best wishes,

Howard Kleiman
Acting Chair and Professor