Associate Professor of Advertising
332 Andersen Hall
A UNL College of Journalism and Mass Communications graduate, Ruth Brown worked on both the news and advertising sides of the business, in print and in broadcasting, before joining academia.
Brown started in newspapers, working on the copy desk of the Lincoln Journal Star, then as reporter and editor of the Brookings (S.D.) Register and later as a freelance photojournalist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. These experiences led her to public relations, and she served as news editor of the South Dakota State University News Bureau and did freelance PR assignments for Daktronics, Inc.
While working on a master’s degree in journalism at Ohio University, Brown applied her expertise to serve as editor of Athens Magazine. Another shift in media came when she moved back to Nebraska, started doing copywriting for KRVN Radio in Lexington and then took over writing, designing and producing the Nebraska Rural Radio Network’s print ads, publications and collateral material.
This breadth and depth of experience led to the University of Nebraska at Kearney journalism head asking her to apply for a teaching position there. “The rest is history,” Brown said, referring to the 15 years she taught fulltime at UNK. Hired to teach reporting, PR and publication design classes, she was later asked to teach an advertising class and then to direct the advertising program. She added Integrated Marketing Communication and Advertising Campaigns classes to the curriculum and taught them as well as principles, design and copywriting classes.
Brown started the UNK Ad/PR Club, affiliated with the AAF, and was adviser for it, coordinating trips to large metropolitan agencies and helping students get grants, scholarships, state and national awards and internships.
Taking classes primarily by distance, she earned a Ph.D. from UNL in Educational Administration/ Curriculum and Instruction with cognate classes in Journalism and Mass Communications. Since her dissertation was “Theory About the Process of Community Building in Distance Learning Classes,” she decided to test her theory by putting some classes online and teaching them during summers. She taught her first online class in 2003, her theory held up and her publication credits mounted.
Her first publication, “The Process of Community Building in Distance Learning Classes,” published in 2001 by the Journal of Distance Learning Networks, was cited nearly 400 times and was translated into Italian and published in a special edition of Inchiesta, under the auspices of professor Vittorio Capecchi, University of Bologna, Rome, Italy.
Brown’s most recent publication is “‘New’ Holistic Mass Media Business Model,” published in the December 2011 issue of the Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media. She hopes it will help independent media struggling to survive as well as new startups, such as low-power FM stations, find a business model that will bring long-lasting success.
Brown joined the UNL CoJMC faculty in 2008, teaches a variety of classes from writing to research and also puts classes online. “It’s exhilarating to be at UNL where so much is happening: Agencies are just a few blocks away, speakers are abundant, the faculty motivate and inspire one another and the students are competitive.”
The president of Nebraska Press Women, Brown was selected in 2007 as its Communicator of Achievement. In 2010, she received the Leader in Communication Award from the Lincoln chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators, having been nominated by a former student.
In 2011, as NPW president, Brown launched the Nebraska Women Journalists’ Hall of Fame, housed in Andersen Hall, which recognizes working women journalists who, through talent, initiative, intelligence and stamina, made a difference for the profession, for the community and for those who followed in their footsteps. Also in 2011, Brown was presented a Certificate of Achievement by the National Federation of Press Women for her work in co-hosting the 2011 national conference in Omaha/Council Bluffs.Brown is an active member of the NET Foundation Board of Directors and of Cather Circle as well as numerous professional organizations including the American Academy of Advertising and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.