EIU Journalism

EIU Students and Faculty Celebrate 30 Years of PRSSA

By Ashley Jordan and Lexi Stickel

Thirty years ago, Eastern Illinois University’s PRSSA program (Public Relations Student Society of America) was founded by Daniel E Thornburgh. On March 21, 2014, students and facility celebrated the program, which benefits students and professionals. They celebrated not only the PRSSA program but the opportunities it has created for the students of Eastern Illinois University.

The PRSSA is a program that allows students to socialize, interact with professionals and network in order to become well known with the business world. Facility advisor Brian Sowa said PRSSA is “learning about public relations beyond just a lecture.”

The PRSSA program attempts to push students to their full potential so they are competitive in the job market. PRSSA president Stephanie Ciesla said, “It’s a way to get where I want to go faster as well as meet people along the way.” Getting started early and participating in the hands on experience help jump start a student’s potential career, she said.

The members PRSSA invited Daniel Thornburgh’s widow, Adrien Thornburgh, and retired facility advisor Terry Johnson, who also knew Daniel Thornburgh. PRSSA is significant to these two women because they both value the true meaning of the society. Thornburgh and Johnson said students interested in public relations had limited resources before the chapter was started. Referring to a career in the public relations market Adrien Thornburgh adds, “All of your experience can be used in a job like that.”

Providing incoming PRSSA members with one piece of advice, Johnson said, “Get involved early and stay involved and do as much as you can. You are building your resume and starting your portfolio.” Good grades and GPA is also important to an employer, while this extracurricular activity provides professional experience.

The PRSSA chapter provides information and opportunities for students interested in the public relations. Daniel Thornburgh, the founder and first chair of the journalism department, oversaw the formation of the chapter, which has helped members network and gain experience.

Hit-Mix Veteran Brad Kupiec Ready to Make Career Moves

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By Richard Upshaw
Brad Kupiec sits in a studio that he will have fond memories of as his life and career moves forward, as the now 21- year-old senior journalism major looks to graduate from EIU as a proud panther and coworker of the WEIU’s radio station, Hit-Mix 88.9.

Brad’s work for Hit-Mix has opened up opportunities to work the morning sports shows on Tuesdays and Thursdays which Kupiec said is his favorite part of his job as a radio personality.

“Sports is something that I have always been passionate about and I always knew when I was a little kid that I wasn’t athletic enough to compete at sports at a high level so I always knew that my way to stick around in sports would be through broadcasting or play by play,” he said.

Kupiec, the MMA and baseball-loving Chicago Cubs fan, has done just that. In addition to working the morning show, he also found a niche with helping EIU by providing play by play for the athletic departments home baseball games, which are finally here now that spring has sprung.

To get to this point, the now three year Hit-Mix veteran had to first go through the semester long training program that is required of the Hit-Mix employees to assure they are well trained and knowledgeable before being officially hired on to work  full time.

“I see myself moving out of state somewhere, where I can get a job announcing minor-league baseball,” Kupiec said, “ and sorta work my way up the ranks and hopefully someday getting into the major leagues but I know that’s going to take a lot of years and a lot of seasons of climbing the latter.”

Kupiec still has some time left at Hit-Mix but he is already setting goals for the future that show his dedication to sports, journalism, and broadcasting. This dedication and drive is for love of the craft but also the rules, experiences and values he has learned from working at Hit-Mix, which provided him with a base to start a career.

“If you want to get involved with Hit-Mix come down and talk to either Jeff Owens or Rob Calhoun about signing up for our training team,” Kupiec said.

Hit-mix is a great way to start working towards a future in broadcast journalism and if possible should be taken advantage of because of the tools they will provide you with to make it in the field of broadcast journalism.

“I’m just really grateful for the experience I’ve gotten at hit-mix and not just the experience I have gotten through Hit-mix from working here but also the opportunities that have opened up from jobs with other stations in the area.”

Hit-mix is a great place for people that are interested in broadcast journalism to get their start and really learn something. Brad also said that everyone at Hit-mix wants to see you succeed and wants to help you get that ideal job that you are looking for, and the opportunities are here if you are willing to put in the time.

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Teach Me How To Dominic, Mr. EIC

By: Alyssa Stockton

Personality is one thing Dominic Renzetti can say he has. Renzetti is the current Editor-in-chief of the Daily Eastern News and has a creative knack for telling the news interestingly.

Renzetti is a journalist that puts himself in the news. He started with the DEN writing about sports as a freshman and during his second year with the DEN he became sports editor. This is when Renzetti and online editor Christopher O’Driscol created a YouTube series called “Teach Me How To Dominic,” which currently has the most views on the DEN’s YouTube channel.

The show revolved around Renzetti meeting with EIU students that were skilled in various sports, and they taught him the rules and methods appropriately for each sport. Throughout “Teach Me How To Dominic” Renzetti learned that some sports were fun and easy, while others were not what he signed up for. Especially during contact sports like lacrosse, he said, where “I got hit with the solid ball and it left a welt.”

Renzetti’s family is a big part of who he is. “His humility,” he said, “comes from his parents, who sacrificed a lot for him and his younger brother to go to a good high school and then on to college, an experience they did not even have.”

As a young kid, his uncle Jeff was a radio personality for Q101 Chicago and really inspired him to be a little different. “Turd, the Bartender,” was Jeff’s radio name on Q101’s daily show, “Mancow’s Morning Madhouse.”

“I thought it was the coolest thing, he was the cool guy on the radio,” Renzetti said about the show his mother didn’t let him listen to at the time.

“Turd” made people laugh and that’s what Renzetti wants to do. His uncle’s radio character and in real life held great personalities for the audience to respond to and remember. His uncle’s ridiculous media stunts and methods influenced Renzetti to get creative with his news delivery.

Renzetti’s personality is one of a kind. His hard work and dedication helped him to advance throughout the DEN while at Eastern. He is studying Family Consumer Science with a focus in Family Services and plans to graduate in December. You can find Renzetti around EIU with his friends and enjoying the college lifestyle.

Elizabeth Edwards Returns to EIU in New Public Relations Position

By: Christopher Hartz

Elizabeth Edwards always wanted to return to Eastern Illinois University to pursue her Master’s degree. That return presented itself in a way she couldn’t have imagined so soon.

“I’m doing PR work for a school,” said Edwards “I’m promoting education, how great can that get?”

Edwards, who graduated from the journalism program in 2013, was deeply involved in her time at Eastern Illinois University. Throughout her tenure she was the Editor-in-Chief, city editor and news editor for the Daily Eastern News, as well as giving her time to the Agency where she worked on The Journalist and the Wavelength.

“I saw myself being a PR writer for a large corporation” said Edwards.

Since graduation, Edwards made a brief two-month stop at the News Tribune in LaSalle, IL after deciding that ideally she wanted a PR job, but since she could loves to write, was willing to work for a newspaper.

“I wanted to do nonprofit work” explained Edwards when asked what she envisioned herself doing after graduation.

“A lot of times in PR, companies are looking for 3-5 years of experience after graduation”. During her short time there, she was approached by Eastern regarding a PR opportunity, where they remembered her from her internship as well as connections she developed along the way.

In her current role as a Media Relations Specialist in the Department of University Marketing and Communications at here at Eastern Illinois University, she is responsible for finding stories throughout the campus that promote programs the school has to offer. In addition she also is charged with the task of writing press releases and marketing writing.

More specifically she has been working on an ad to promote the new masters art education program and to try and lure prospective students to want to participate in the program.

When asked where she sees herself in the future, “I’m hoping to pursue a Master’s degree in Communication Studies here at Eastern” she explained while going into her other goals, “I would like to improve as a writer” Edwards said, “broaden my contacts here at Eastern as well as promoting and getting Eastern’s name out there.”

Being a recent graduate herself, Edwards heavily promoted students should be participating in student activities, “If aren’t going to be active, then you aren’t going to get a job” she explained. “I would spend every summer working for a paper or a small PR firm” she directed towards students.

“I didn’t have big time internships, but I was able to gain the experiences that you might not get at a big firm.”

Cameron Craig Shares Information about His upcoming Documentaries

By: Alex Seidler

Documentarian and Geographer Cameron Craig recently presented his upcoming new documentary as well as some of his own history on February 12th. His audience was comprised of professors and students who also got a showcase of his enthusiastic persona in addition to his history lessons.

Craig attended Indiana State University where he earned his bachelor’s degree in history and master’s degree in geography. He recalls his original path at pursuing music in which he majored in for three years after being encouraged by his mom. But with some words of wisdom from his grandmother, he found his future in education and now currently teaches in the Department of Geology/Geography at Eastern.

“You can do it Cameron,” Craig stated what his grandmother told him.

“There is no such thing as can’t.” He went on to earn the title of Professor Laureate in 2010-2011 which is an honor given to the highest academically accomplished.

Over the years, Cameron Craig has been educating not only his students in history and geography, but to the public with his personalized unrestraint documentaries. He released his first documentary “A World of Winter,” in 2004. It examined the winter climate in Indiana.

He interviewed authorities on the topic as they explain how the atmosphere works in the winter, premeditated actions to take to stay safe, and a reflection on the previous snowstorms. He followed that up with other successful documentaries which include personalized interviews and he says he uses these documentaries for his students to become engaged in his lessons.

In the start of his presentation he opened a question to the audience asking them if they would like to live in a country where they have to wait in line with a bucket to get water. This is the direction he claims we are heading into based on the amount of water used and wasted over the past few years. Some speculated consequences of this travesty include the Colorado River no longer reaching the Gulf of California and Arizona along with New Mexico’s aquifer drying up.

“We need to stop using so much water,” Craig said. “Take shorter shower and turn off the faucet when you’re not using it.”

The latest project Craig is preparing to film is a documentary which will tackle the issue of the water resources in the country which will be titled, “Expedition Endurance: An Inquiry into human survival.” In May, Craig and a couple other students will be traveling to the southwest to interview average citizens on their knowledge of the topic. He says his purpose for making the documentary is to educate and look at something a little bit differently.

“We learn from previous stories and so if we bring in the past and look at it ourselves then we can improve our future.”

Craig tries to have students share their story in his documentaries in order to have that in place of facts and statistics to connect with other students.

“Every single student has a story,” he said. “I preserve to pass on an educational moment.”

He also admitted to not being able to stand in front of his class when he presents his documentaries. Craig stated that the documentary will hopefully be finished and released by May of this year.

Journalism Alum Barbara Harrington Shares Insights and Experiences

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By: Katelyn Ifft

As she stood before a roomful of Eastern students who will soon be entering the professional world, Barbara Harrington stressed the importance of being involved in as much as possible throughout college.

“I think what you do here is going to be very telling of what you do in your career”, Harrington said.

Harrington is no stranger to variety. As a student, Harrington, a 2011 graduate of the Eastern journalism program, immersed herself in her work at WEIU. Throughout her time at the station, she was an anchor, reporter and producer for NewsWatch. She also devoted time to The Agency, The Warbler and occasionally, the Daily Eastern News.

Recently, Harrington had the opportunity to be featured on The Today Show, when a shooting at a grocery store in Elkhart, Indiana was serious enough to make the national news. WNDU, the station Harrington is employed at, is affiliated with NBC, and so she was chosen to cover the story.

She said she discovered how different national news is from local news. Harrington showed two clips from this shooting. The first was from The Today Show. It was mostly fact based and was short and to the point.

Harrington said she did not write what appeared on The Today Show. The show is so precisely laid out that the producers knew what was needed and produced the script themselves.

The second clip was from the morning show on WNDU and was more emotional, appealing to the people of the community. Although Harrington said she has become desensitized to violent crimes, this particular incident struck a nerve.

“I have never had people come up to me panicked before, Harrington said,” People were bawling, not knowing whether or not their loved ones were dead.”

In addition to speaking to the Society for Collegiate Journalists, Harrington assisted with the NewsWatch newscast, seeing it through every step of the way. Brittany Borthwick, a senior journalism major, said she really enjoyed working with someone who had at one time been in her shoes.

“She’s giving us her insights on tricks of the trade,” Borthwick said.

She also said she felt both discouraged and inspired by seeing what Harrington has accomplished, and it gave her something to strive toward in her professional career.

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Dave Ross, Building Service Worker at Buzzard Hall retires after 10 years

By Mike Wolbers

Dave Ross was that little kid at the back of classroom who had hard time paying attention because he was too busy drawing illustrations.

Ross, who has been a Building Service Worker at Buzzard Hall for about 10 years, has always had a knack for art.

“You know my teachers never encouraged my creative side,” said Ross. “They always thought I was just slacking off.”

Ross said that Linda Sherwood, an instructor in the early childhood program, had him speak with her students.

“I told her students that you need to embrace the children like me who sat in the back of the class and are artistic,” said Ross. “You need to encourage those students to be creative.”

In addition to having Ross speak to her students, Sherwood was also able to recognize Ross’ talents.

After seeing some of the art in Ross’ office, Sherwood connected Ross with her daughter and he illustrated the children’s book she was authoring.

Before coming to EIU, Ross had done mostly factory work and worked for a semi-truck trailer manufacturer.

Ross was also a semi-truck driver and would often go on trips with his wife cross country.

Having been originally from around Sullivan, ILL., Ross has seen almost all of the United States.

“If I had to pick a region that is my favorite I would have to say it is the west,” said Ross. “if I had to pick a state I would say Arizona.”

In 2004, Ross came to EIU and Buzzard Hall.

“When I came to Eastern, a lot of people did not want to work at Buzzard because it was so big,” said Ross. “If you are looking for a job without a lot of downtime, this is not it. There are always windows to be cleaned, dust in places you would not have even guessed.”

While Ross believes it is a tough job, there are a lot of things he will miss about the job.

“I will miss the comradery  with my co-workers, the students and staff,” said Ross. “I will miss the everyday interactions with all of those people for sure.”

As for his retirement, Ross says that he plans to stay in Mattoon.

“After I retire I will continue to do art, painting signs and stock cars,” said Ross.

In addition to art, you can find Ross fishing in farm ponds around the area and deer hunting in the woods near Lake Shelbyville.

“You know I have been contributing to the retirement fund since the 1960s,” said Ross. “I figure I deserve to enjoy it.”

Brian Poulter’s Photo Journey Down Illinois Route 1

By Stacey Catterson

Professor Brian Poulter spoke to students on Oct. 29, 2013 at the SCJ-sponsored “After Hours” program about his summer trip down Illinois Route 1 where he took photos on a smartphone.

Poulter has been documenting the lives of total strangers on summer trips for the past five years.

Professor Joe Gisondi helped Poulter along the way on Illinois Route 1 collaborating with story ideas.

“One of the reasons I did this one too is because last year Verizon Wireless gave me some equipment to experiment.”

“I was like oh ok, i’ll do Illinois Route one” when Verizon Wireless asked about his summer plans.

“And they sent me the stuff so they prompt me and tricked me into doing it this summer.  ”

They went to five different locations on Illinois Route 1 taking photos with an iPhone 5 and a Verizon Wireless Nokia Lumia 928.

Along the way they stopped in Lawrenceville, Harvey, Danville, Paris and the south-side of Chicago

“If you just go some place and show an interest in people’s lives they’ll tell you everything about them.”

“The guy on the motorcycle we literally found him in the first 45 seconds we were there.”

Poulter got some of his work published on the Verizon Wireless Midwest website from his summer trip in 2012 when he was documenting photos on the national road with and iPhone 4S.

“There’s something really fun about journalism and setting your own agenda, knowing that you can write it the way you want, you can photograph how you want”

Toward the end of “After Hours” program Poluter gave advice on how to enhance your photo skills on a smartphone.

Knowing what your smartphone can and cannot do, paying attention to the lightning, understanding your software and finding the app that works best for you were some of the tips discussed.

“The fun part of it is when you can get people to tell you all these things that they shouldn’t tell you,” he said.

Poulter said he his is not planning to do a trip this summer; however, he said to check back with him in April where he will probably be planning something.

Recent EIU Grads Talk about Current Jobs and Gives Advice to Current Students

By Merritt Whitley & Michael Wolbers

 

Chad Grimm and Megan Johnson both graduated from the Eastern Illinois University journalism department in May 2013 and have found employment after graduation.

Johnson currently resides in Chicago, Illinois and is working at a Hilton hotel. Her current position is in customer service, and in January she will begin working for the Hilton’s communications department.   Johnson also plans on going back to school in January to brush up on her writing skills. Her future intentions are to write a book about her experiences in the hotel industry. Johnson has already begun putting together a collaboration of short stories about the lessons she has learned. Johnson’s dream job however, is to move to New York and work for Cosmopolitan magazine. She is currently working towards her journalistic goals by bettering her writing and gaining experience.

Johnson said she believes that Eastern helped her prepare for the future by providing her with useful situational experiences in public relations and writing.

Johnson’s advice for students getting ready to graduate and pursuing careers in journalism and public relations are to be optimistic.

“You are probably not going to find something right away. Things don’t always go as planned,” Johnson said. “You just have to be open minded.”

Johnson’s future plans do include returning to Eastern in the future.

“It’s hard to make time once you get into the workforce,” Johnson said. “I love Eastern, I still have close friends out there. I’ve learned so many life skills.  I want to come back someday.”

Johnson is not the only Eastern graduate who is finding success after graduation.

Chad Grimm is currently employed by Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis, MO as a special marketing team representative.

“I started in May working at the Busch factory giving tours of the brewery,” said Grimm. “Then I found out about my current job, I applied and I got it.”

The job has taken Grimm to a variety of places including New York and San Francisco.

“We went to Oktoberfest in San Francisco and then Fashion week in New York and I have had the chance to travel with the Cardinals during their playoff run,” said Grimm.

Even though Grimm has traveled far from Eastern’s campus, he says that things he learned at Eastern have helped him along the way,

“The great thing about taking PR courses with Terri Johnson was that you learn to be versatile,” said Grimm. “So, even though I do not necessarily have a journalism career I learned communication and speaking skills from those classes with Mrs. J.”

Going out and trying different things is key to finding what fits best for you, says Grimm.

“Just go out and be yourself. Don’t think you just have to stay with one student RSO,” said Grimm. “I found that The Agency helped me and suited me, but that necessarily does not mean it would be the right fit everyone else.”

Grimm will be working at local St. Louis events to help Anheuser-Busch support the Cardinals while they play in the World Series.

Journalism Department Celebrates Homecoming With a Chili Bash

By: Tyler J Noel

The free chili and drinks flowed freely on Saturday as staff members, students, and alum got together for the annual Chili Bash at the 7th Street Underground. The chili bash started at 5 p.m. and ran until 9 p.m. and gave people attending a chance to catch up with alumni, chat with their professors, or just mingle with other journalism students. There were three different types of chili on hand with a choice of regular chili, vegetarian, and a chili without beans.

The Chili Bash started in 1972 in the basement of Ike’s. The event was always a way for the journalism students, alumni, and journalism staff members had a way to enjoy some warm chili during the autumn weather and to just chat and enjoy each other’s company. The Chili Bash was eventually moved from Ike’s, according to John Ryan. “We left Ike’s because it had only one fire escape and it became a fire hazard.” After moving from Ike’s it was hosted at different Charleston locations before eventually settling in at the 7th Street Underground.

One of the many alumni that attended the Chili Bowl was Eric Hiltner. Eric came into EIU at the age of 22 after leaving the army and attended Eastern for four years. He worked in the photo department for four years and said that he ran a “tight ship.” Eric currently has a job in Chicago. “I’m a VP at an organization in Chicago. Yeah, I drive a truck,” he said.

There was a good amount of both students, professors and alumni at the event. All around laughs were being shared, people were catching up, and the chili was flowing. When The Chili Bash happens the next year, be sure to attend and get a chance to know the people that help make the Journalism department as great as it is.

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Photo of Eric Hiltner, taken by Gina Volk

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