Focus on the Faculty


Kit Jenkins took in the sights and sounds of Thailand. Scott Jensen tackled the empowerment of speech communication. Gary Ford and Linda Williams went back to school to see the future of journalism.

They all also shared this knowledge they gained outside the classroom with fellow faculty, staff and students.

Focus on the Faculty is a series of afternoon lectures wherein faculty share personal learning experiences with other faculty, staff, students and friends. It’s an open learning environment designed to foster discussion on a variety of topics.

“It’s a great chance for the faculty to share what they’ve learned over the year,” said Sally Lorino, associate dean of the School of Communications.

Here’s a sampling from a pair of this year’s lectures:

Web 2.0: Chaos or Nirvana?

The flow of information in a Web 2.0 world isn’t a straight line from points A to B — it’s an ever-flowing cascade allowing people to step in and out at their leisure.

“What’s linear about Web 2.0? Nothing,” said Debra Carpenter, dean of the School of Communications. “It’s a river of information constantly flowing by me. I’m just tapping into it.”

Tapping into this river is one of the greatest aspects of this “new media,” Carpenter said during her recent lecture “Web 2.0: Chaos or Nirvana?” 

“The Web 2.0 medium goes on with or without me,” Carpenter said. “It’s not limited to time, geography or space. This has a tremendous impact on everything we are thinking about and doing.”

It’s all about being part of the conversation and making connections, she said.

“Social Media really is a conversation — a gigantic conversation,” Carpenter said. “It’s not a technology. It is not organized. It’s not controlled.”

Even as the mode of communication has changed in recent years, it still adheres to communication theories developed years ago, she said. Web 2.0 communication is open, self-regulating, and proves the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It’s a free market place of ideas and provides limitless ways to reach the same destination.

Looking Ahead After 100 Years of J-School

The media’s delivery system is changing faster than ever before and if newspapers are going to survive for years into the future, they’re going to have to adapt.

Such was the message Gary Ford and Linda Williams received upon returning to their alma mater, the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism. Ford and Williams returned to Mizzou last fall to commemorate the school’s 100th anniversary.

“When I left the [University of Missouri], print journalism was king,” said Gary Ford, public relations professor. “It was where it was at.

“If you go to journalism school today, you don’t major in print and thumb your nose at all the broadcast folks. They give you a camera and you’re expected to know a little bit about everything. Everyone in the business today needs to know how to deliver every kind of news.”

The reality of journalism today, Williams added, is that students need to be able to do it all. They need to be able to write, shoot, edit and produce if they’re going to survive in today’s media market.

“E-mail is becoming passé, text messages are passé,” Williams said. “It’s only going to keep changing. The idea of the network news at 5:30 is a dinosaur. People want to watch their news when they want to watch their news.”

Additional Lectures

Lectures in the Focus on the Faculty series continue into April. Additional topics included an examination of women in movies by Rebecca Ormond; a discussion of what Edward R. Murrow might think of journalism today with Linda Williams; and, the power of speech communication with Scott Jensen.