Category: CIS News

C&IS’ Britt Takes a Deep Dive into Danbooru

You don’t have to be the trendiest, in-the-know web surfer to be familiar with imageboards and their wide popularity among many internet users. Love them or hate them, imageboards are cross-cultural internet forums that bring together millions of users to share images and add a splash of color all their own to the infinite online conversation.

One kind of imageboard in particular is of special interest to C&IS researcher Dr. Brian C. Britt (advertising and public relations). In his recently published article, Lessons from Danbooru, Britt outlines the uniqueness of booru-style imageboards and what he has learned from studying user behavior on Danbooru.

“Other online platforms can learn a few things from what’s drawn people to Danbooru for the last 15 years,” said Britt. “Over 200,000 people engage with this site on a daily basis. Over 3 million submissions have been made to this site and thoroughly curated by its users.”

According to Britt, the curation process that naturally occurs on Danbooru and similar nonlinearly directed imageboards is unique. Other imageboard platforms begin a discussion thread with a user’s posted media, and the thread continues as other users make replies. Each of these replies is contained as a part of the thread. This behavior is similar to Facebook’s user-to-user interactions.

However, on nonlinearly directed image boards, each post is treated as a self-contained unit, much like social media sites such as Tumblr. Users can add their own comments to a discussion thread about the content, but they also interact with each piece of content independent of the thread, applying tags and up- or down-voting the posts. This keeps the shared media at the center of the online interaction. The focus of user engagement with the media is on curating, evaluating and refining the submissions over time. For Danbooru, this means that the online content is constantly posted, curated, evaluated and refined solely by users, which ultimately offers an improved user-media relationship.

As a researcher, Britt examines how the behavior of members in large scale online communities causes the communities to develop over time. This can be a community that forms around a single hashtag or entire social media platforms. According to Britt, studying online user behavior can help us to understand how communities form and evolve.

“You’ve got a large community that’s devoted a lot of time and energy to [Danbooru],” said Britt. “What’s driving them? What’s motivating them to be involved? We need to understand that if we’re going to develop better online platforms that might make use of similar types of social or interpersonal mechanisms.”

To read the full results of Britt’s published research entitled “Content curation, evaluation, and refinement on a nonlinearly directed imageboard: Lessons from Danbooru,” click here.

The College of Communication and Information Sciences’ faculty and students at The University of Alabama conduct cutting-edge research that creates knowledge and provides solutions to global issues across the full communication and information spectrum. To learn more about the College’s research initiatives, visit

C&IS Alumna Spotlight: Myreete Wolford

“Get involved so much that you learn what breaks you – but please don’t actually break!”

Alumna Myreete Wolford (B.A. in Communication and Information Sciences in Public Relations ’14) is a Business Development Manager at Ketchum in Chicago, IL. As a graduate of C&IS, Myreete is passionate about writing, public relations and the supportive team at Ketchum.

Read below to see Wolford’s insight into her current career, the lessons she’s learned along the way and how C&IS helped her create her story.

 What is your official job title? 

I am a Manager of Business Development at Ketchum and support the development of North American and global growth for Ketchum. In this, I provide strategic pitch counsel, creative storytelling, marketing development, and c-suite organization for opportunities within the pipeline for this Top 5 PR Firm. Internally, I am a mentor for our “center team,” where I focus on sales-minded personal and professional development for our entry-level team members.

Why did you choose C&IS for your studies? 

A few reasons! I love[d] to write, I respected the progressive and forward-thinking nature of C&IS and I knew that having a nationally ranked public relations program on my resume could take me places – and it has!

What lessons from C&IS have helped you throughout your career? 

C&IS has an incredible number of resources for students and in that, involvement and opportunity arise. I gained real-world experience, networked with professionals who could speak to my credit during job interviews and beyond, and learned how to own my strengths and polish up my weaknesses. I was involved in so much within C&IS and can pinpoint the lessons learned from each extracurricular activity:

  1. A plansbook for AdTeam – I write RFPs for a living now!
  2. Pitching media for a news story – I can thank Platform Magazine for having media relationships before leaving C&IS.
  3. Client service knowledge and respect – I wouldn’t have learned so quickly if it wasn’t for The Plank Center and Capstone Agency!
  4. Understanding what it takes to cut B-Roll – I watched my broadcast classmates closely to get the BTS of a newsroom.

How can students make the best use of their studies?

Get involved so much that you learn what breaks you. – but please don’t actually break! Honor your commitments, be kind and never leave a classmate hanging – you never know who in your classes will be your client or colleague one day. Use so many of C&IS’ resources that you leave college with a wide array of skills, not just those you learn in a classroom. Learn video production, design, media relations/pitching, coding – you name it, it will help! Get an internship or marketing job during college so you can have a real understanding of how your studies apply to your future career (Hint: It’ll make you care more). Beyond networking, make true friendships that last – no one else will understand your job like your communication friends.

What advice do you have for students interested in your field? 

Public Relations covers a lot of ground – do informational interviews to understand the pathways available to you. Within my role in Ketchum’s growth, I sell the services we provide and do it all behind the scenes. A role like mine is not widely available at many agencies, but without “New Biz,” a firm couldn’t survive. If you’re interested in my field, begin by cultivating your long-term relationships now. Find a mentor, not just a person to try to get you a job. Don’t be entitled nor expectant – work your bums off for what you want and what you get. No matter what, handwrite thank you notes to everyone, always.

What is the most rewarding part of your job? 

Rewarding is the energy your work gives back to you. Rewarding is hands down, it’s my team. There is something in the water here at Ketchum… your colleagues become your family – people you’d give anything to support. Rewarding is looking back at the last few months knowing that three of my direct reports were promoted, that we won a great number of new business – business that our account teams are proud to work on, and then going home every day amped up about what we get to accomplish tomorrow.

What motivates you? 

Motivation for everyone is different. For me, it’s my faith. My motivation is bringing my best to work every day all in order to show Love and Grace to others.

Thank you, Myreete!

Plank Center Celebrates Mentorship at 10th Annual Gala

The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations celebrated its 10th annual “Milestones in Mentoring” Gala in Chicago on Thursday, Nov. 7. More than 20 faculty, staff, students and alumni represented the The University of Alabama at the event.

The gala brought together more than 320 public relations professionals, educators and students to recognize esteemed leaders whose commitment to mentoring generates a robust network of influence and accelerates success in the public relations profession.

Honorees at this year’s mentorship gala included:

  • Rich Jernstedt, President & CEO, The Jernstedt Company, and past executive leader with Golin, FleishmanHillard and Porter Novelli (Legacy Award)
  • Matthew Harrington, Global President and Chief Operating Officer, Edelman (Agency Award)
  • Cheryl Sanclemente, Senior Director of Corporate PR, Salesforce (Emerging Leader Award)
  • David Dozier, Professor Emeritus, School of Journalism & Media Studies, San Diego State University (Bruce K. Berger Educator Award)
  • Kelly McGinnis, SVP and Chief Communications Officer, Levi Strauss & Co. (Jack Koten Corporate Award)
  • Kim Hunter, CEO, LAGRANT COMMUNICATIONS; Chairman & CEO of The LAGRANT Foundation; and Managing Partner of KLH & Associates (Betsy Plank Award)

The gala was part of a two-day series of events, as students also had the opportunity to attend a networking session with the six honorees at DePaul University prior to the gala and join UA faculty and staff for the Center’s Summit on Diversity and Inclusion Friday morning.

“Each year, this evening allows us to give well-deserved recognition to the leading mentors in our field while also showcasing UA’s finest,” said Dr. Karla Gower, director of The Plank Center and professor in UA’s Department of Advertising and Public Relations. “Most importantly, these events enable our students to shape the future of our industry by giving them access to influential thought leaders who impart invaluable skills and insights.”

The evening has been dubbed “The Oscars of Public Relations” and “The Best Night in PR,” as it takes on an unmatched energy to inspire those in attendance to mentor the next generation of leaders.

More information on the Milestones in Mentoring Gala is available on The Plank Center’s website.

About the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations

The Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations is the leading international resource for practitioners, educators and students who are passionate about advancing their careers and the public relations profession. Led by a national advisory board of leading educators and practitioners, the Center develops and recognizes outstanding diverse public relations leaders, role models and mentors to advance ethical public relations in an evolving, global society. Founded in 2005, the Center is named after Betsy Plank, the first lady of PR. Betsy’s legacy and vision continues on in the Center’s programs and initiatives to advance the profession and public relations education. For more information, please visit

Barnidge’s Study on Virtual Reality Investigates Learning from the News

Dr. Matt Barnidge (left) assists a C&IS graduate student with testing the virtual reality news story.

For decades, news has been consumed by readers and viewers around the world in a variety of formats—print, video and radio, to name a few. Virtual reality (VR) technology now gives news outlets the capability of placing their viewers right in the middle of the action, where they can look around and get a 360° perspective of the story.

As a national leader in information sciences education, C&IS strives to be on the cutting-edge of technological advancements impacting the fields of communication and media. Research conducted by Dr. Matt Barnidge (Assistant Professor, Journalism and Creative Media) is studying the effects of virtual reality news stories on learning from the news.

“To the person immersed in the story, it looks like you’ve just been dropped in, like you’re hovering a couple of feet off the ground,” said Barnidge. “We want to know the effects of being in the middle of the story.”

The experiment presents the subjects with one of three different versions of the same news piece, a story on climate change produced by CNN. Subjects either experience the story in virtual reality, view the story in 360° video or read a version of the story that has been adapted by Barnidge into text format. After consuming the story, the subjects are tested on story recall, or the extent to which they remember facts from the story, and cognitive elaboration, or the extent to which they connect facts in the story to other ideas, to determine which news format best promotes learning.

“Are we in the early stages of this? Absolutely, but news follows people,” said Barnidge. ”If this platform develops to the point that everyone has VR, and their social networking, gaming and other online interactions are happening in VR, then the news will follow them there too.”

Virtual reality as a medium is already shaping the way thousands of people interact with one another. Barnidge’s research could help news networks understand how the stories they craft with this technology have an effect on informing their audiences about key issues.

The College of Communication and Information Sciences’ faculty and students at The University of Alabama conduct cutting-edge research that creates knowledge and provides solutions to global issues across the full communication and information spectrum. To learn more about the College’s research initiatives, visit

2019 C&IS Lead Retreat

The College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS) develops global leaders who do the extraordinary across the full communication and information spectrum. For one weekend in October, a group of C&IS leaders traveled to Panama City Beach, Florida for leadership development and experiential learning at the inaugural C&IS Student Lead Retreat

The student collective of 46 established and emerging leaders were led by four C&IS faculty and staff members through an interactive curriculum of leadership programming that encompassed communication, diversity and collaboration.

“I loved interacting with different people from my College that I had never met before,” said Maddie Gall (junior, public relations and communication studies). “I now have a community that I can learn from and grow with.”

Throughout the weekend, students connected their leadership experiences in C&IS and became a network of peers who understand their individual and group impact. Group workshops, team building exercises, breakout sessions and personal reflection united the students, all while enjoying the beautiful beaches of the Emerald Coast.

“This retreat lit a fire in me, and I have taken away so much from the workshops and activities,” said Dominique Satterwhite (senior, telecommunication and film). “The trip facilitators were so willing to help us learn and taught us how to embrace the things that may divide us, to help us reach a common goal.”

The mission statement of the Lead Retreat was to develop leaders who do the extraordinary in C&IS and beyond. The retreat’s final activity challenged the students to make a statement of how they would be extraordinary moving forward. All 46 students accepted the challenge to be impactful leaders, whether or not they are appointed to a C&IS leadership position.

“Most students think that to be a leader you must serve in an official capacity,” said Elizabeth Tagg (junior, communication studies). “Anyone can be a leader, and our voices and actions in the small, everyday moments of life can impact others in ways we rarely expect.”

Financial support for the inaugural Lead Retreat was provided by the generosity of C&IS alumni and friends. The retreat’s budget was funded in full as the 2019 passion project for Bama Blitz, The University of Alabama’s annual online fundraising event. Without the support of the extended C&IS network, this retreat would not have been possible.

“We do a lot to cultivate community and inclusion at C&IS, but this weekend served as the first opportunity for me to grasp what that community looks like,” said Tagg. “This experience has been my favorite at UA, I am so thankful for everyone who made it possible.”


To view more photos from the 2019 Lead Retreat, check out the Facebook album here.

UA PRSSA Chapter Wins Big at PRSSA International Conference

The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter at The University of Alabama was honored with multiple chapter and individual awards at the recent PRSSA International Conference in San Diego.

In addition to being named a PRSSA Star Chapter, UA’s PRSSA chapter also received the Teahan National Chapter Awards for Chapter Diversity and Outstanding Faculty Adviser to C&IS faculty member Tracy Sims.

“Our executive board has actively worked to seamlessly integrate diversity and inclusion into our organization’s mission and activities since adding a vice president of diversity and inclusion officer position in 2017-18 and forming a Diversity and Inclusion committee in 2018-19,” Sims said. “It’s wonderful to have those efforts recognized with the Chapter Diversity Award.”

According to the Public Relations Society of America, the Chapter Diversity Award recognizes outstanding commitment to diversity within the PRSSA Chapter, and is judged on activities performed to promote, generate awareness and encourage diversity within the chapter. The Outstanding Faculty Adviser Award is given each year to the faculty adviser who shows outstanding service to the PRSSA Chapter through dedication and creative chapter guidance, effective student motivation, exceptional contributions to public relations education, supportive chapter advocacy and representation within the academic department and with the local PRSA chapter sponsoring chapter and its members.

“I am both proud and honored to be at the helm of this amazing department, talented and giving faculty, and exemplary students,” said Dr. Damion Waymer, Advertising and Public Relations Department Chair at C&IS. “This recognition is external validation for the hard work and investment we put into ensuring that our curriculum is current, rigorous and prepares our students adequately for work in the public relations industry.”

In addition to the chapter awards, three C&IS students were awarded scholarships through the PRSSA/PRSA Foundation: Gabrielle Sirois received the John D. Graham Scholarship; graduate student Gloris Trujillo received the Neumeier Family Leadership Award; and Kathleen McManus received the Lawrence G. Foster Award. These scholarships all carry over $1,000 worth of funding.

“Serving as the UA PRSSA faculty adviser since 2008 has been a true pleasure,” Sims said. “I get to work with some of our best students — such as our three scholarship recipients — as they develop their leadership skills and knowledge of the profession.”

UA’s PRSSA chapter was founded in 1970 and currently boasts over 180 members. This marks the third time that UA’s PRSSA chapter has been named a Star Chapter.

C&IS Alumna Spotlight: Eryn Cooper

I am my own competition.”

Alumna Eryn Cooper (B.S., Telecommunications and Film ’19) is a multimedia journalist at WTVC-TV News Channel 9 in Chattanooga, TN. As a recent graduate of C&IS, Cooper is a storyteller who worked with the ESPN/SEC network, the NFL’s Washington Redskins Broadcast Network and UA’s Tide TV during her time at UA. By networking and using the skills she learned in the classroom, Cooper has fulfilled her lifelong aspiration to be a multimedia journalist.

Read below to see Cooper’s insight into her current career, the lessons she’s learned along the way and how C&IS helped her create her story.

What is your official job title?

I am a “multimedia journalist” — a fancy way of saying an on-air reporter who usually does all of her own shooting, writing, editing, and reporting!

Why did you choose C&IS for your studies?

I have always loved being creative and sharing art and stories with other people. Growing up, I loved to perform in theatre productions and in music concerts. Whether I was acting, writing, speaking, or playing an instrument, I loved to make people feel a certain way. Thus, studying communication made a ton of sense to me!

What lessons from C&IS have helped you in starting your career?

NETWORKING. Making connections in as competitive of a field as media/broadcast is absolutely crucial. I don’t know where I’d be without my wonderful C&IS professors who encouraged and provided networking opportunities all four years of college.

How can students make the best use of their studies?

Every assignment is an opportunity to own and improve on your craft. I always found the assignments we were given in C&IS to be very relevant and have found myself thinking about how helpful they were even now in my “real world” job. Also–form close, real, meaningful relationships with your professors. They can help you in ways you could never imagine.

What advice do you have for students interested in broadcast journalism?

The skills we learn in C&IS are applicable to so many jobs. Know that the program you’re in stands out among others and you are COMPETITIVE. It is common for UA C&IS grads to land elite job opportunities right out of college that are other people’s second or third job. Also–please believe you can achieve anything if you work for it. Being rewarded for hard work is not luck–it’s what you earn from doing your best each day.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is getting to help people through the stories I tell. Whether it’s making someone happy from sharing their triumph, or preventing something horrible from happening to someone else by sharing another’s experience–it feels like what I’m doing matters. Getting a thankful and complimentary text from an interviewee after they watch the story I spent all day working on reassures me I’m in the right field.

What motivates you?

Knowing there is always more to learn. Media and broadcast journalism are fields that are changing and evolving every minute. I am never bored–there is always something to get better at. I am my own competition!

Thank you, Eryn!

Vida Magazine Named Pacemaker Finalist by ACP

The Associated Collegiate Press (ACP) has named “Vida” Magazine as one of 41 Online Pacemaker finalists. The Online Pacemaker award is ACP’s preeminent award, given to the top online broadcast, news and magazine sites. The awards are generally considered to be the highest national honors in their field, and are unofficially known as the “Pulitzer Prizes of student journalism”.

“Being selected as a finalist for an online Pacemaker is such an honor because there were more than 182 submissions nationwide, and to know that this publication is among the best is just outstanding,” said Dr. Kim Bissell, advisor for “Vida” Magazine. “I am always so proud of the students because what they do is really unlike any other student publication: they travel to another country, gather content in all forms, and then produce an entire magazine in about three weeks.”

Every two years, a team of writers, photographers and designers from The University of Alabama’s student body travel to a Latin American country to gather content for a new issue of “Vida.” The second and most recent issue, published last year, focused on four cities in Costa Rica. The first issue, published in 2016, was about the culture of Chile.

“First and foremost, being named a finalist for a Pacemaker is affirmation that makes all the late nights planning, early mornings spent copy editing, and all the worrisome dirt roads to the odd cacao farm or volcano top worth it,” said Mary Kathryn Carpenter, editor of “Vida.” “This magazine was entirely student funded and produced, so to see all our efforts pay off has been extremely gratifying. Our Vida alumni have gone on to become leaders within other student media organizations, do amazing internships across the country and become University employees.”

20 of the 41 finalists will earn Pacemaker honors at the ACP/CMA National College Media Convention at the end of October in Washington, D.C. For more information about “Vida,” visit their website,

Warner Media Recruiter Visits with C&IS Students

This week, Turner Sports recruiter Lauren O’Byrne met with students from The College of Communication and Information Sciences (C&IS) during an exclusive lunch. The lunch was part of a campus visit that included resume critiques and an information session on Monday night.

According to Tiffanie Bittle, Assistant Director for Experiential Learning & Employer Engagement for C&IS, Turner visits universities across the country during the fall to recruit students for internships and entry-level positions available in the spring and summer.

“It’s extremely important for students to immerse themselves in as much industry experience as they can,” Bittle said. “I always encourage our students to engage with as many professionals as possible during an internship, even if they’re not a connection in their direct field of interest, because any connection is a valuable connection.”

C&IS partners with Turner Sports for several experiential learning opportunities, including “She’s Got Game,” a leadership conference for women in sports in Atlanta.

“I think Turner likes to visit with C&IS students, specifically, because our students have a great showing and are very engaged at other Turner-sponsored events,” Bittle said. “This year, Turner offered The University of Alabama 35 sports for ‘She’s Got Game,’ and 28 of those spots were filled with C&IS students.”

During the lunch, O’Byrne explained to students about the various opportunities available in their fields of interest with the company, as well as some of the opportunities available in the other branches of Warner Media Group, including Cartoon Network and Adult Swim.

“Lauren was wonderful and so down-to-earth,” said Jessie George, a public relations accelerated master’s student from Ohio. “I learned about more than just the internship opportunities, but also the post-graduation and pre-professional programs Warner Media offers. It was great to hear direct stories from an employee about the benefits and the culture at the company.”

Everett Holle: A Legacy Worth Repeating

Brigadier General Evertt Hughes Holle holds a trophy with Dean Mark Nelson at the 2015 C&IS Hall of Fame Cermony.
Brigadier General Evertt Hughes Holle with Dean Mark Nelson at the 2015 C&IS Hall of Fame Cermony.


Countless characteristics make a person memorable. Many are remembered for their exceptional sense of humor, their joyful spirit or their encouraging thoughtfulness. These are all things to strive for, but standing out in front of all of these is generosity. Generosity is a personal choice to take from yourself—whether from an abundance or not—and use that gift to enrich the lives of others. This is why generosity immortalizes people.

Everett Holle was a generous man.

“He was a Renaissance man in every aspect of the word,” said Mark Nelson, Dean of C&IS. “He was passionate about making The University of Alabama the premier place for recognizing the achievements of students in communication and creativity, and he did not limit his vision. He understood the value of creativity to enhance the communication arts and the value of an interdisciplinary approach to communication.”

After graduating from The University of Alabama in 1950, Holle enjoyed a 40-year career in the television industry at NBC 13 and achieved the rank of Brigadier General in the U.S. Army. Through his entire career, a part of him always called C&IS home. Though gone, his legacy continues to have a lasting impact and his generosity will influence generations of students at C&IS.

“His generosity was an outgrowth of his family’s ethos,” said Nelson. “They were all generous, compassionate and extremely active in their communities—insistent on improving the lives of those around them.”

Beyond philanthropy, he impacted the lives of those around him by giving of himself. Whether he was dressing up in themed costumes to introduce programming on NBC 13, or interviewing the waitstaff at his favorite restaurant, he loved people and loved getting to know their stories.

Holle’s passion for students, for the University, and for creativity fueled his desire to see C&IS rise to the top in rewarding student excellence. A master at making a statement, he always encouraged C&IS leadership to dream big not small, think national not local. When he first founded the Holle Awards, he refused to offer anything less than a $10,000 cash prize to each of the five category winners.

“As I reflect on it, his insistence to award a $10,000 prize was a vital part in elevating the stature of the awards and signaling to the nation the importance of student achievement in the communication arts,” said Nelson. “Everett knew the benefits of his philanthropy and how to direct his giving to not only assist students but also to make important statements about the value of communication and creativity.”

For years, Holle supported excellence and creativity in communication for students at UA by funding the Holle Awards and providing scholarship opportunities. After Holle passed away in 2017, the Holle Family Foundation board approached Nelson, inviting C&IS to put together a plan for a large gift. The $10 million gift, announced in September of 2019, represents the passion and vision Holle had for C&IS. As the most generous donation C&IS has ever received, the gift will allow the College to establish the Holle Center for Communication Arts. The interdisciplinary Holle Center will support collaboration among departmental units in C&IS and promote creativity in communication and storytelling.

“This gift will accelerate many of our plans for the College,” said Nelson. “Having a center dedicated to the study of creativity and communication distinguishes us from other institutions across the country, and having an endowed chair to lead the center whose research mirrors the spirit and legacy of Everett Holle is imperative.”

Every year, C&IS awards 5 students a $10,000 prize for winning one of the Holle Awards for Excellence and Creativity in Communication. Now funded in perpetuity, these awards provide more than just a jumpstart to the creative careers of undergraduates; they give C&IS and The University of Alabama the opportunity to annually tell Holle’s story and celebrate his generosity. And his is a legacy worth repeating.

A $10 million gift such as this has the potential to impact the College for generations to come, but its significance and grandeur should not overshadow the individual. At the heart of every gift he entrusted to the University, he knew the impact at the personal, student level. To the student, alumnus or friend of C&IS who is reading this, speculating as to why a person would ever be this generous, you should know this: behind this $10 million dollar gift there’s a man named Brigadier General Everett Hughes Holle who leaves behind a legacy of compassionate generosity and who was passionately invested in your potential to do the extraordinary.