Dean's Update: February 2022

Tuesday, February 8, 2022 - 10:15am

Dear Alumni and Friends,

In 2021, we focused much of our time and energy on Aim 1 of our strategic plan: Launch a college-wide experiential learning lab. This year, we are implementing several strategies that align with the following additional aims of our plan:

Aim 4: Embrace and protect the ethical pursuit of truth to uphold democracy.

Aim 5: Help solve challenges critical to our industries.

Aim 6: Prioritize community building that recognizes, respects and celebrates diversity.

Aim 7: Establish a culture of life-long learning and professional development.

We have several new classes we are offering this semester to help meet these aims. Gilbert and Martha Hitchcock Professor Barney McCoy is teaching a class on Trusting News in this Hyper-polarized Era. According to a recent Pew Research Center poll, seventy-four percent of Americans can't tell the difference between real news and fake news. In the U.S. and abroad, anxiety over misinformation has increased alongside political polarization and growing fragmentation of the media. Professor McCoy’s class focuses on how to detect and measure the bias, accuracy and reliability of news stories.

Jerry and Karla Huse Professor of News-Editorial Joe Weber is teaching a class on the Changing Business Models of News. Current industry innovators are joining our students to discuss how news organizations are adapting to the decline in traditional revenues. Three of the guest speakers in the class, Editor of the Texas Tribune Sewell Chan, Editor and Co-Founder of the Colorado Sun Larry Ryckman and Chief Audience Officer of Chicago Public Media Celeste LeCompte, will also be featured in the upcoming Seline Lecture Series that will be open to the public and live streamed on 90.3 KRNU.

Professor Weber and Visiting Professor of Photojournalism Shoun Hill are collaborating with the Omaha World-Herald to teach a depth reporting class on how racial issues have been covered in Nebraska. While the Omaha World-Herald is assisting in archival research, the class will be conducted as an independent investigation with the editors deferring to the students and faculty in the course’s examination of past coverage. The students’ reports will be published in a special section of the Omaha World-Herald in May 2022 and featured in a special section of the college’s news site, Nebraska News Service.

Sports Media and Communication Associate Professor John Shrader is teaching an honors course this semester on the Racial Reckoning in Sports Culture. The class looks at how race has been intertwined with the world of sports throughout history and examines the impact of important historical sports figures and their impact both on and off the field or court.

While our classes are focused on the next generation of journalists, media producers and communication professionals, we are also providing opportunities for alumni and friends and students from across campus to discuss issues important to our industries.

On February 22, Assistant Professor of Journalism Chris Graves and Senior Producer at Nebraska Public Media Bill Kelly are offering an online workshop on How to Report on Nebraska Trial Courts. Topics will include what pitfalls to avoid, how to understand proceedings and how to interpret legal language. Register online for the link to the workshop.

On Feb. 28, we are hosting a panel both online and in person on Race and the Media. The panel will be moderated by Assistant Professor Kelli Boling, and the panelists will include Digital Editor of Ms. Magazine Roxy Szal, Editor of the Omaha World Herald Randy Essex, Visiting Professor Shoun Hill and Assistant Professor of Practice Monique Farmer. The event is free and open to the public. Please register here.

On March 1, our professionals-in-residence from the Experience Lab will host a panel on Ethical Dilemmas in our Industries. During the panel, the professionals will discuss ethical dilemmas they have faced during their careers in journalism, broadcasting, advertising and public relations and sports media. Students from across campus will be invited to ask questions and engage in a robust discussion with the professionals about how they responded and what they would do differently now. 

On March 3, I’ll be in Atlanta for the Investigative Reporters & Editors NICAR Conference. If you’re from the area or will be in town for the conference, please join me for Drinks with the Dean. I’d love to provide an update on all these initiatives and to learn more about you.

Finally, I want to note some important changes in our college. Ken Fischer has joined our faculty as an assistant professor of practice in media production, and William H. Kearns Professor of Journalism John Bender and Buffett-Mangelsen-Sartore Chair in Photojournalism Bruce Thorson have announced they will retire at the end of the year. We are collecting stories and well wishes from current and former students, colleagues and friends for upcoming features in this newsletter. If you would like to submit any comments, please do so using the links for Professor Bender and Professor Thorson by March 1. 

Go Big Red!


Dean Shari Veil in the Agency