USC Annenberg accepts diversity award at AEJMC conference

CHICAGO — School of Journalism Director and professor Geneva Overholser accepted the 2012 AEJMC Equity and Diversity Award celebrating the School’s advances on a number of fronts, and several faculty presented leading-edge projects and research at the 100th conference of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

The conference also included an alumni gathering hosted by Overholser and Annenberg Vice Dean and professor Larry Gross, director of the School of Communication.

The diversity award was presented to Overholser and School of Journalism Associate Director Bill Celis at the association’s business meeting. In awarding the School the honor earlier in the year, the selection committee cited the School of Journalism’s curriculum enhancements, recruitment and retention of students and faculty and its relationships with such organizations as the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education. The AEJMC committee also said the School’s Diversity Initiative’s report, “Celebrating Difference,” chaired by Celis, offered a blueprint for other U.S. journalism and mass communication schools.

The School also presented a panel on its diversity work. Overholser moderated a panel with Celis, Laura Castañeda, associate director and professional practice, and Robert Hernandez, assistant professor of professional practice, on how the School has introduced and institutionalized conversations about diversity in its curriculum and individual classes.

The AEJMC Equity and Diversity award was the fourth major AEJMC award the School has won in as many years. Last year in St. Louis, professor Joe Saltzman received the national Journalism & Mass Communication Teacher of the Year by the Scripps Howard Foundation, and professor Félix Gutiérrez received the Lionel C. Barrow Jr. Award for Distinguished Achievement in Diversity Research and Education for his body of scholarship for individual accomplishment and leadership in diversity efforts for underrepresented groups by race and ethnicity, in journalism and mass communication. In 2008, Vice Dean Gross accepted the Roy F. Aarons Award for his contribution to education and research on issues affecting the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered communities.

During the conference, journalism and public relations professors also presented research projects at the fourth annual Annenberg lunch, an event that has been sold out every year it’s been held. This year, Jerry Swerling, director of strategic public relations program and professor of professional practice; Kjerstin Thorson, assistant professor, and Burghardt Tenderich, associate professor of professional practice, presented key findings from the seventh PR/Communication Generally Accepted Practices (GAP) Study. GAP covers trends and emerging best practices in such key areas as measurement and evaluation; roles and responsibilities; use and control of social media; organizational culture; senior management’s perceptions; budgets and budget allocations, and many others. More than 620 senior level professionals — more than ever before — participated, due to industry-wide support provided by PRSA, the Arthur W. Page Society, the Institute for PR and IABC.

Also, Willa Seidenberg, director of Annenberg Radio News and professor of professional practice, presented the School’s community news initiative and the role community news websites play in the School’s curriculum and in the field; and Celis discussed teaching with technology and the digital story-telling tools he has incorporated in his classes for several years, leading to his win of the 2011 USC Provost’s Prize for Teaching with Technology.

USC Annenberg professors and students also presented at a number of panels. They included:

Gross served as a panelist for a discussion on Reflections on the Next 100 years of Media and Mass Communications Research.

Thorson will presented her paper, “Spreading the news: Social news sharing practices among young adults” during the High Density Refereed Paper Research Session: Social Media, Politics and Culture.

Castañeda served as a panelist, presenting on “Proposition 8: An Analysis of Latter-day Saint (Mormon) Culture & Media Strategies Used to Ban Same-sex Marriage” in panel on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Religion and Media Interest Groups.

Seidenberg presentrd at a luncheon session entitled New News Labs:The Rise of University Entrepreneurial News Startups.

Thorson, Tenderich, Swerling, graduate public relations students Niku Ward and Brenna

Clairr O’Tierney presented “Predicting Digital and Social Media Adoption Based on Organizational and Practitioner Characteristics” in a refereed paper research session on social media and public relations.

Vikki Porter, director of the Knight Media Digital Center at USC Annenberg, served as a panelist on “Turning Your Graduates into News Innovators and Entrepreneurs.”

Related: Grad student Niku Ward blogs about her experience at AEJMC
Related: Brenna Clairr O'Tierney reports live from the SCPRC