JU Student Media Converged on Louisville

Bryan Jones

Louisville, KY. – The Jacksonville University student-run newspaper, the Navigator, is now nationally ranked after it came in third place for Best of Show in the four-year school, non-weekly paper category at the 89th annual National College Media Convention.

“It was very exciting to be recognized for all the hard work we have put into the paper,” said Rica Caughman, editor-in-chief.

The JU Media Board sent 10 students from the various student media: the Dolphin channel, JU108 radio, and The Navigator, along with Keith Saliba, Ph.D., assistant professor of communications, Annmarie Kent-Willette, Ph.D., associate professor of communications, and Dennis Stouse, professor of communications and the chairman of the communications department, were the faculty advisors present on the trip.

“JU Media is stronger than it has ever been,” said Dean Winter, program director for JU 108.

That strength may be why the communications department spent approximately $1,500 to have these students participate.

The Associated College Press, the College Media Association, and College Broadcast Inc. run this annual convention, which is held in a different city each year according to the conventions website. Schools from all over the nation send members of their student-run media to attend workshops, participate in critiques of their work and to network with other students and faculty, and professionals in the media business. It is the largest gathering of college students in the world.

“We are really pleased to have been able to offer this educational opportunity for our students,” said Stouse.

Stouse explained the many advantages this opportunity provides. It supplements the curriculum that the communications department provides, it gives students the chance to see how other schools handle various obstacles with their media, and it gives them the chance to communicate with students from other schools.

“It is a privilege to be selected to be a part of it and go to it,” said Stouse. “There weren’t student organizations like this when I was in college. I would have killed to have an opportunity like this.”

When Stouse first came to JU 25 years ago he went with the first group to go to the convention, which also happened to be in Louisville.

“We have a long tradition of doing this, but this is the first year we were able to provide this for so many students.”

The convention is very helpful to the advisers as well. Many sessions that are held are mainly aimed towards providing faculty with helpful information. Stouse, who teaches media law, attended sessions led by attorneys who argue first amendment issues in front of the Supreme Court.

“It helps us do our job better,” said Stouse.

Kent-Willette said that the Media Board has been talking about this conference for the past year, and has been saving money in order to pay for the trip. Stouse gives all the credit to Sandra Coyle, Ph.D.’s careful budgeting.

“This was a big undertaking and we really had the support of the university to make this financially possible,” said Kent-Willette.

The Navigator staff members aren’t the only ones who got something out of the convention.

“Overall the experience was very rewarding,” said Alyssa Fernald, a producer on the Dolphin Channel. ”I think the best thing that came out of all of it was being able to collaborate with the staff of other JU media.”

There was a lot of collaboration between the three groups. They shared rooms, meals, and ideas.

“There was a lot of convergence,” said John Shannon, JU 108 station director. “I have never seen so much convergence in my life.

This joke was in reference to the fact that the buzzword “convergence” was used prolifically throughout the convention. However, all three media are very serious about working together in the future to create a more unified student media on the JU campus. Everyone who went came back with ideas on how to improve JU’s media.

Shannon Heath, the Dolphin Channel station manager, summed up the experience nicely.

“Learning from award-winning journalists from around the country has been by far one of the most rewarding experiences of my college career.”