Q-and-A with Patricia Riley: "Annenberg gets better every year"

In addition to serving as the director of the Global Communication master's degree program, communication professor Patricia Riley is the primary investigator of several research projects investigating organizational communication. Shortly after returning from a guest lecturing position in Holland, Riley discussed one of her latest and most timely projects focusing on news media. She also shared her favorite pastime and what excites her most about the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.  This interview is part of a series of Q-and-A's with USC Annenberg faculty.

Organizational communication is your primary focus. In layman's terms, what does that mean?
PR: Organizational communication looks at the communication practices, the language uses, the interaction patterns and networks inside and between organizations. There are lots of different purposes. One example would be to study the culture of an organization. Some organizations are more risk overt, some organizations are more inward looking versus more globally oriented, more standardized in their practices or are more innovative and creative.

One of your many projects focuses on a timely issue: news media. What is that study?
PR: We have a project with the Knight Digital Media Center that’s looking at the change that the move by news online has created in news organizations. The shift online has created opportunities for long-form stories because you’ve got more space. However, at the same time, the lack of advertising dollars to news organizations has created financial difficulties. So we’re studying those changes that are taking place in news organizations.

What are your plans for the Global Communication master's program?
PR: What we’re looking at doing is creating another branch of the program where students will be able to spend a year in China. It probably wouldn’t happen for two more years. In the meantime, we’re going to create a summer certificate program in China.

How was it you became interested in research and communication?
PR: I got into communication through debate in high school. Then, in college, I had a double major in communication and biometry, which is the computer science and statistics sort of track in public health. In that program you design studies, which is how I got interested in research.

Do you have any hobbies?
PR: I love to cook. What I like most is cooking across cultures, so I like to do fusion dishes. You know, where you can invent sort of a Thai-Mediterranean meal where you figure out how to mix the flavors? Lots of nights I grill fish and try to do an interesting prep of vegetables. I like going to the farmer's market on Saturday; that creates the dishes for the rest of the week.

What is the most intriguing part of the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism?
PR: It gets better every year. We hire wonderful new faculty and we bring in amazing students. Every year we get to tell the graduating class they are the best that’s ever come from Annenberg. Every year it’s true.

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