Category: CIS News

Capstone Agency Participates in CreateAThon

The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) selected Capstone Agency to participate in CreateAThon, a marketing marathon for local nonprofits, last weekend.

CreateAThon is a 24-hour pro bono marathon during which participants work through the night on campaigns that promote local nonprofit organizations, assisting their needs in communication solutions. Capstone Agency is one of two student-run agencies chosen to participate in PRSSA’s inaugural CreateAThon.

Because Capstone Agency is a self-funding organization, they primarily do work for paying clients. These clients help to fund the costs of the agency and provide student development opportunities that would otherwise be impossible.

“The chance to step back and do some meaningful work for so many clients at one time and produce deliverables in 24 hours is a good feeling and a service to these deserving nonprofits,” said Teri Henley, Capstone Agency Adviser. “It’s something I believe that we as communication professionals have a responsibility to do.”

During their CreateAThon, Capstone Agency completed work for seven local nonprofits, including: Tuscaloosa Metro Animal Shelter, First Presbyterian Church of Tuscaloosa, Alabama SPCAGood Samaritan Clinic, Arts ‘n Autism, Alabama Writer’s Conclave and Camp Fire Alabama. In all, students worked a collective 960 hours, an estimated $27,600 worth of client work.

“Our students are often running from the agency, to class, to work and managing their lives on their mobile devices,” said Henley. “For 24 hours the stepped away from all their obligations and truly focused face-to-face on the tasks at hand. I believe in that 24 hours they did some of the best work I have seen from our students.”

PRSSA’s CreateAThon started on Friday, March 3 and carried on until the following morning, when students presented their work. Website overhauls, communication toolkits, informational campaigns and an annual report were all constructed by students for clients in less than 24 hours.

“In every nonprofit presentation I saw, someone cried—in one case, it was me. The nonprofits were so thrilled and grateful for the help,” said Katie Gatti, firm director of Capstone Agency. “It was perhaps most exciting that each nonprofit partner felt we had accurately captured their vision and exceeded their expectations. That’s a big accomplishment for anyone, let alone a student group.”

To learn more about Capstone Agency, click here. To learn more about CreateAThon, click here.

A New Voice on UA History: Pluck and Grit Podcast

There are new voices on campus telling the age-old stories of The University of Alabama, its rich culture, and tumultuous history. C&IS graduate student Mary Lieb and her co-host, MBA candidate, Joey Weed are the creators of Pluck and Grit podcast, a project devoted to telling the stories of the people and places that have helped shape The University of Alabama.

The podcast series, which began recording interviews last fall, consists of three hour-long episodes with plans to record as many as ten episodes before the pair graduate in May.

The idea for Pluck and Grit was born after Weed spent the summer as an intern for National Public Radio (NPR) in Washington, D.C. While he said his internship focused more on audience research and analytics than communication and journalism, being in the environment inspired him to pursue his long-time interests in podcasting and storytelling.

“I thought, you know, we could really do something like this here and I knew Mary was the perfect person [to partner with],” Weed said.

After meeting for lunch in August, the two agreed that the podcast would focus on The University of Alabama community, local history and individuals’ unique experiences at the Capstone.

“We have this long laundry list of topics and people we can contact – previous administrators and alumni have been really supportive – almost everyone we’ve reached out to has been really eager to share their stories,” Lieb said. “Although we do share a common experience here, everyone has their own unique experience that made the Capstone, the Capstone for them. What we’ve learned is that, despite some of the thorns that the University has, and some of its back story and a lot of its problems, people have still been able to find a home and they’ve been able to find some really great redeeming qualities. That’s what we’re really interested in looking at.”

The podcasts, which can be found on iTunes, Sound Cloud, and the Pluck and Grit website, have explored topics related to the international students community, Big Al and successful entrepreneurship initiatives created by students at UA.

“Checking people’s memories has been really exciting,” Weed said. “For our first story, the Big Al story, we talked to four different people and they all had different views of the order of events, how things happened, things like that.”

The pair said they have spent several hours in the W. S. Hoole Special Collections Library sifting through historical documents like The Crimson White, UA’s student newspaper, and Corolla yearbooks.

“We’ve been going to the library to see what the newspaper was writing about and kind of confirm and get a broad sense of the picture of how these stories weave together,” Weed said.

Lieb and Weed, who have both been active in student organizations and the University of Alabama community since their freshman year in 2012, agreed this is one project they may be content to let fare for itself when they depart for Washington, D.C. in May.

“In most of our projects, we work to try to find some avenue of sustainability,” Lieb said. “We’ve thought about working with publications on campus or maybe passing it off, but for the time being this was just a very fun side project.”

Weed echoed the sentiment.

“I think we would be content if [the podcast] just became 8 or 10 episodes,” Weed said. “Maybe if they were within the libraries archives, or on our website, or iTunes so that if a student down the road is searching for interesting things about the University, they can stumble upon these and enjoy them almost like a film or TV show. We’re going to put it out there and then just give people the opportunity to learn a little bit more about the University.”

Dr. Robert Riter – Research Profile

Dr. Robert Riter, assistant professor in the School of Library and Information Studies, recently presented his work on documentary reproduction and the ethics of containment at the Communication and Information in Network Society: Experience and Insights III conference in Vilnius, Lithuania.

His paper examined the ethical issues associated with the digitization of original sources, the intellectual relationships that exist between original sources and their digital surrogates, and the influence of documentary reproduction on artifactual identity. Riter discussed the priority of specific evidential and informational values over others in the digitization process, specifically addressing the originating materiality of the source and its communicative elements. He suggested that the practice provides a context for considering how reproduction and containment practices inform the expression of information and evidence in original sources.

In line with this work, Riter’s primary research interests focus on historical topics associated with the publication of original sources, materiality, intellectual and conceptual foundations of archival thought and practice, and the documentary and archival properties of book art.

Riter received his PhD from the University of Pittsburgh where his dissertation examined American historical documentary editing, particularly focusing on early modern editorial theory, methods, and their influence on documentary production. Riter holds teaching appointments in library and information studies and book arts. He is the coordinator of the SLIS archival studies program and serves as an advisor to the Birmingham Black Radio Museum and The University of Alabama Center for the Study of Tobacco in Society.

PRSSA National President Holds Personal Branding Workshop for C&IS Students

PRSSA National President, Emma Finkbeiner met with 30 students from UA’s PRSSA Chapter and Capstone Agency for a workshop on personal branding while she was on campus last week for The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations’ annual board meeting.

The workshop included elements of branding to consider when crafting messages for social media, personal and portfolio websites, and LinkedIn. Finkbeiner used interactive methods to engage the students and encouraged them to be mindful of their personal and professional brands.

Finkbeiner, a graduate student at DePaul University, emphasized the importance of storytelling and being genuine—things that consumers seek in popular brands like Coca Cola, Ikea and Nike. According to Finkbeiner, what makes those brands so credible and exciting is similar to how students produce and share their unique voices and personal brands.

“Taking the time to discover and build a personal brand is vital to differentiating yourself in the marketplace,” Finkbeiner said. “If you work to find out what makes you valuable and different now, you will be that much more prepared by the time you graduate and begin the job search.”

A personal brand is how one represents his or her personal qualities, traits and experiences in a way that markets them. In this case, students use their personal brands to share interests, professional experiences and how they may fit into a certain organization’s culture for internships or employment opportunities. Finkbeiner emphasized the “Five R’s” of a personal brand, based on research from the Institute for Public Relations: Real, Relatable, Relevant, Resonate, Relationship.

“After hearing so much about the C&IS at the University of Alabama from friends and through PRSSA, I was thrilled to make my way down to Tuscaloosa for a visit,” Finkbeiner said. “From my tour of the college and in talking with some of the students, it was obvious that The University is providing really great experiential learning opportunities to its students.”

The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), made up of over 11,500 students, is the premier student organization for public relations students across the country. UA’s PRSSA chapter, established in 1970, currently has over 180 chapter members, making it one of the largest chapters in the nation.

StoryCorps Partners with Alabama Public Radio

StoryCorps, a renowned nonprofit organization celebrating the stories of everyday Americans, will record interviews in Mobile as part of its cross-country MobileBooth tour. Having collected over 65,000 interviews from Americans in all 50 states, StoryCorps has gathered one of the largest single collection of human voices ever recorded.

StoryCorps’ MobileBooth—an Airstream trailer outfitted with a recording studio—is parked at Cooper River Side Park until March 10. Reservations can now be made by calling StoryCorps’ 24-hour, toll-free reservation line at 1-800-850-4406 or visiting Reservations are available as of January 26.

StoryCorps has partnered with Alabama Public Radio (APR), a service of The University of Alabama to collect interviews with residents of the Gulf Coast. APR is broadcast on WHIL 91.3, Mobile’s NPR station. APR will air a selection of local interviews recorded in the StoryCorps MobileBooth and create special programs around the project.

With participant permission, all StoryCorps interviews will be archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

Alabama Public Radio hosted an opening day press event at Cooper Riverside Park on February 9 to introduce StoryCorps to the community and to allow press to interview StoryCorps staff and the first two sets of participants.

Alabama Public Radio is a network of public radio stations based in Tuscaloosa, Alabama housed by The University of Alabama’s Digital Media Center, a part of The College of Communication and Information Sciences.

SLIS’ Book Bonanza Awards $7,000 in Free Books

The University of Alabama’s School of Library and Information Studies will award over $7,000 in new children’s and young adult books to five school libraries in the Black Belt region of the state and one school library in an economically deprived area of Alabama outside of the Black Belt Region through its SLIS Book Bonanza for the Black Belt (and Beyond) program.

School librarians in the Black Belt counties of Alabama and other economically disadvantaged areas of the state are encouraged to apply for free books that will be awarded by Dr. Jamie C. Naidoo, associate professor in UA’s SLIS.

School librarians may download and complete the application sheet and email it to Naidoo with “Book Bonanza” in the subject line or fax it to 205/348-3746. Applications must be received no later than midnight Monday, Feb. 20. Applications are available on the program website here.

Six winning school libraries will be selected by Feb. 24. Each winning school library will receive more $1,000 worth of free children’s or young adult books. Once notified, winning school librarians will have until March 31 to claim their free books from SLIS. Books must be picked up in Tuscaloosa.

Started in 2009, the SLIS Book Bonanza for the Black Belt is an annual program that provides free books to school libraries in the Black Belt region each academic year. For additional information about the program, visit the program website here.

The University of Alabama’s School of Library and Information Studies is a part of the College of Communication and Information Sciences.


February 22, 2017

SLIS’ Book Bonanza for the Black Belt (and Beyond) program awarded a total of $22,641 in new, free books to elementary, middle, and high school libraries across Alabama.

Book Bonanza Black Belt Winners:

Gordo High School, serving grades 7-12 (Pickens County), Librarian Heather Perrigin
Greensboro Middle School, serving grades 6-8 (Hale County), Librarian Elaine Pugh
Payne Elementary School, serving graded K-5 (Dallas County), Librarian Julie Johnson
Sidney Lanier High School, serving grades 9-12 (Montgomery County), Librarian Yolanda Huntley
Southside Primary School, serving grades K-2 (Dallas County), Librarian Monica Gayle
Valley Grande Elementary School, serving grades PreK-6 (Dallas County), Librarian Brenda Powell

Book Bonanza Beyond Winners:

Central Elementary School, serving grades K-5 (Tuscaloosa County), Librarian Stephanie Frost
Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School, serving grades PreK-5 (Tuscaloosa County), Librarian Sandra Perteet-Plenty

Dr. Cynthia Peacock – Research Profile

Dr. Cynthia Peacock is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies in the College of Communication and Information Sciences. A recent addition to the C&IS faculty, Peacock brings several years of teaching and research experience with her to the position. Her research interests focus on political communication, communication theory and media effects.

Peacock’s work with Dr. Peter Leavitt, a social psychologist and visiting professor at Dickinson College, titled “Engaging Young People: Deliberative preferences in discussions about news and politics” was recently published in SocialMedia + Society.

The pair’s study examined the way college students perceive the online world as a venue for political discussion by analyzing responses from six focus groups conducted with college students across the United States. Guided by deliberative theory, the pair found that young people prefer engaging with others who are knowledgeable and remain flexible and calm during discussions. They also found that young people’s goals for engaging in conversations about politics primarily revolved around sharing information and opinions, and that they tended to prefer civil discourses that focused on commonalities rather than differences between people.

Peacock completed her dissertation, titled “Talking Politics: Political Opinion Expression and Avoidance across Conservative, Liberal, and Heterogeneous Groups,” in 2016 as a doctoral student at the University of Texas at Austin. In addition to SocialMedia + Society, Peacock has also published work in American Behavioral Scientist and Communication Research Reports. She has also written several grant-funded whitepapers for and presented research at several top communication conferences around the world.


American Journalism Historians Association Southeastern Symposium

Seven graduate students from the College of Communication and Information Sciences Department of Journalism and Creative Media traveled to Panama City, Florida to present research at the American Journalism Historians Association Southeast Symposium last weekend.

The two-day conference takes place in late January or early February each year and is designed to promote graduate and undergraduate student research through a scholarly forum of research presentations and discussion. Students are selected by faculty from participating institutions to present their research in a welcoming and encouraging setting.

Faculty from The University of Alabama, the University of Florida, the University of North Florida, Georgia State University and Samford University attended the conference.

Student papers are not reviewed for acceptance, but are judged by faculty to determine awards for the best papers in undergraduate and graduate student categories. UA student Ben Pockstaller was awarded first place for Best Graduate Student Paper. Kaylin Bowen and Hailey Grace Steele, also UA students, received second and third place, respectively.

“Earning an award is an honor, but I was really just happy to be there,” Pockstaller said. “I put quite a few hours into this paper, so getting to present it to some very smart people was rewarding. Everyone in my class worked very hard. They’re all super-talented folks, and I was just proud to be alongside them in all this.”

JCM faculty member Dr. Dianne Bragg teaches UA’s graduate course in media history and is also the AJHA symposium coordinator. UA students who attended the symposium include:  Kaylin Bowen (thesis track), Christopher Edmunds (thesis track), Samantha Hill (community journalism), Keith Huffman (community journalism), Ben Pockstaller (community journalism), Oliver Simpson (thesis track) and Hailey Grace Steele (thesis track).

SLIS Names Dr. James K. Elmborg New Director

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The University of Alabama’s School of Library and Information Studies has named Dr. James K. Elmborg its new director.

Elmborg comes to UA from his professorship at the University of Iowa, where he formerly served as director of the School of Library and Information Science from 2006 to 2011.

At more than $3 million dollars in external funding, Elmborg has an established record of securing grants and managing large-scale, collaborative initiatives. He has made a name for himself in the fields of critical information literacy and digital humanities.

Elmborg received his doctorate from the University of Kansas in 1995. He is the author of two books: Centers for Learning: Libraries and Writing Centers in Collaboration, and A Pageant of Its Time: Edward Dorn’s Slinger and the Sixties.

Dr. Eyun-Jung Ki – Research Profile

Dr. Eyun-Jung Ki is an assistant professor in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations. A graduate of the University of Florida, Ki’s research interest focus on organization-public relationship management and its measurement, emerging media in public relations, and organization sustainability communications.

In a recent study, Ki assessed the progress of research on global public relations from 2001 to 2014 and suggests that – given the steady increase in the number of articles addressing global public relations – the field should shift from description to theorization and work to establish theories specific to global public relations with methodological diversification.

Designed to investigate the trends, patterns and rigors of research studies examining global public relations, the study conducted a content analysis of published articles in public relations journals as well as other communication journals between 2001 and 2014. During the time span outlined, a total of 163 articles examined topics related to global public relations. The United States was the nation of most frequent focus in the articles, followed by China, the United Kingdom and South Korea.

In addition to 40 peer-reviewed publications, four conference proceedings, six book chapters, and 53 conference presentations, Ki is also an Arthur W. Page Legacy Scholar and a Plank Center Scholar. Her work has been published in the International Journal of Strategic Communication, Public Relations Review, Journal of Mass Media Ethics, Computer and Human Behavior, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, among others.