Skip to main content

Media College eNews

Articles tagged with: event

9 Jan

As a young professional and a student at the P.I. Reed School of Journalism, now West Virginia University Reed College of Media, Martha Smith, (BSJ, 1970) had some unforgettable mentors. Martha Smith

Legendary West Virginia sportswriter Mickey Furfari, his wife Betty, a columnist at The Dominion News, now The Dominion Post and beloved journalism professor Paul

Atkins left such an impression on Smith that she is creating endowed scholarships in their names.
Smith’s planned gift of $155,000 will establish the Mickey and Betty Furfari Endowed Fund and the Professor Paul A. Atkins Endowed Fund. The money will provide scholarships to undergraduate students studying journalism at the College of Media.

As a student writer, Smith worked with the Furfaris during a summer at The Dominion News. She was able to observe Mickey in the newsroom and get hands-on experience with Betty as a contributor to her society column. She became friends with the Furfaris and remained in contact with them throughout her career.

As for Atkins, she says having him as a professor helped her become a stickler for spelling and editing.
“If I see a typo I will point it out,” said Smith. “When I do, people always ask if I’m a teacher. I respond: ‘No, I’m a journalist.’”

A first generation college graduate, Smith recognizes the importance of giving since she was able to attend WVU with the help of scholarships. Smith wants to give budding journalists the same opportunity.

“When I get the alumni magazine, I am very interested to read about the students going places and helping people,” said Smith. “I support what the College and its students are doing, and it’s time to put my money where my mouth is.”

Smith a native of West Virginia spent 50 years as a journalist including 30 years as a staff member of the Providence Journal. She has received several honors including New England Magazine Journalist of the Year and an induction into the Rhode Island Press Association Hall of Fame. She is the author of two books, her most recent, “Me and Mr. Zane Grey,” was released this year and is available nationally.

Betty Furfari was a 1947 graduate of the School of Journalism and Mickey graduated from the School in 1948. The couple met while working together at The Daily Athenaeum.

Betty passed away in 2004, just shy of the couple’s 56th wedding anniversary. Mickey referred to her as his “best friend, editor and confidant.”

Mickey passed away last July at the age of 92. He began covering WVU sports for the Times West Virginia in 1989, and he continued his column until his passing. Furfari was a five-time winner of the West Virginia Sports Writer of the Year award and a member of the WVU Sports Hall of Fame.

Known as the “Flying-A,” Paul Atkins taught at the School of Journalism for 33 years before retiring in 1986. In addition to being a full-time professor, Atkins served as the faculty adviser of The Daily Athenaeum for 12 years, holding the position longer than anyone else.

What type of legacy do you want to leave? Join other Mountaineers who are making a difference and connect with us by visiting or email Director of Development Tiffany Samuels at

The gift was made in conjunction with A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University which runs through December.

30 Sep

Author and photojournalist Alysia Burton Steele spent nine months and traveled 2000 miles to capture the stories in her latest book, “Delta Jewels: In Search of My Grandmother’s Wisdom.” In September, Steele shared those stories, a written collection of oral histories of the Mississippi Delta’s beloved “church mothers,” with a packed audience at the College’s Media Innovation Center.

Steele set out on her journey with a desire to feel more connected to her own grandmother by meeting some of her contemporaries, listening to them and sharing their stories.
Steele’s presentation was an incredible journey of civil rights, humor, love and loss, as told through the eyes of the women in her book.

“Their voices are much more powerful than mine,” said Steele of the women she interviewed. “That’s the power of audio. You can hear these women tell their stories. Their families can have a piece of them when they have gone. It’s a powerful tool and every single one of you should use it.”

Steele’s ability to connect with her subjects allowed her to not only share their stories, but also to connect with the people in the audience during her presentation. She encouraged attendees to listen to the stories of their elders. She said there are stories to be heard in every community, and she stressed the importance of respecting their wisdom and the lessons they have to offer.

“Journalists and photographers usually like to stay behind the camera; but to be able to share the Mississippi Delta’s oral histories with West Virginia University is an honor,” said Steele. “For the journalism students out there, I want to tell you the importance of following your gut and following your passion. You’ve got to like what you do. You spend so much time at work that it has to matter.”

Copies of “Delta Jewels” were available for purchase at the event, and Steele remained after her presentation to discuss her work and sign each copy of her book. Some of Steele’s photos form the book are also on display at the Center and will remain there through December.

Steele spent more than 12 years as a photojournalist at The Columbus Dispatch and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution where she worked as a picture editor and deputy director of photo. In 2006, she served as one of the picture editors on The Dallas Morning Star team that won the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News for their Hurricane Katrina coverage.

Currently, Steele is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media in Oxford, Mississippi.

30 Sep

West Virginia University journalism students are playing their part in the state’s flood relief efforts by helping one community rebuild its high school journalism program.

This summer’s floods devastated Richwood High School in Nicholas County, and its award-winning journalism program is now struggling to get back on its feet.

Richwood is the only high school journalism program in the state to have a partnership with Public Broadcasting Service’s NewsHour. But all of their cameras, microphones and other video equipment were destroyed in the flood.

To help Richwood’s journalism students continue to tell stories and produce news packages, the WVU Reed College of Media donated used video cameras, and other needed items, such as memory cards, storage containers and office supplies collected by students and faculty.

Richwood senior Kendra Amick says WVU’s support gives her renewed hope for the future.

“It was humbling to see the new cameras and equipment fill the empty shelves,” Amick said. “We are passionate about the stories we tell and can’t explain how thankful we are to the students and faculty at the College of Media who are working so hard to help our program survive.”

The College of Media is also leading a series of training workshops to help Richwood students develop their skills in interviewing, writing, news judgment and photojournalism. The first workshop was held earlier this month, at the College’s Media Innovation Center.

WVU Journalism senior Kristen Tuell of Weirton provided students with training for the new cameras.

“For me, it was incredible to see how genuinely interested these kids were as I showed them how to work the new cameras,” said Tuell. “I wasn’t a high school student that long ago, and I know getting some students to pay attention or ask questions is nearly impossible, but that wasn’t the case with them. I think they appreciated our gifts just as much as we enjoyed giving them.”

College of Media Dean Maryanne Reed says the College has an obligation to do its part.

“The scope of this disaster is staggering, and many of these communities are still in survival mode,” Reed said. “But this is something tangible that our students and faculty can do to help one community and provide a positive experience for aspiring journalism students.

WVU faculty will travel to Richwood later this semester to help students capture and share their stories of recovery and resilience. Those stories and photos will be shared with the public at a later date.

29 Apr

Associate Professor Joel Beeson is receiving international recognition for his diversity research. Joel

This month the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) announced that Beeson is the 2016 recipient of the Lionel C. Barrow Jr. Award.
Created in 2009, the award recognizes outstanding individual accomplishment and leadership in diversity efforts within the journalism and mass communication discipline. AEJMC (then AEJ) established the award to honor Dr. Lee Barrow who fought to diversify the association and the media industry following the death of Dr. Martin Luther King.

Beeson will receive the Barrow Award at AEJMC’s national conference in August.

Professor Beeson is currently leading a collaborative initiative with Morgan State University’s School of Global Communication and Journalism, a historically black urban institution, to develop a Social Justice Media Project. This collaboration resulted in Bridging Selma and the virtual reality app, Fractured Tour: An Immersive VR Tour of Selma’s Divides.

In addition to the Barrow Award, Beeson’s work on “Fractured Tour,” won two awards at the 2016 Broadcast Education Association’s (BEA) Festival of Media Arts. It won the Chairman’s Award, which is decided by the former chairs of the Festival and is awarded annually to the best overall student and faculty entry. “Fractured Tour” was singled out of more than 1,500 submissions to win the award, which competed in the Faculty Interactive Multimedia category.

It also won the BEA Best of Festival King Foundation Award—only 18 winners received this prestigious honor.

Morgan State student Emily Pelland was the assistant producer for the piece.

28 Apr
ConnieSchultzHedshot West Virginia University Reed College of Media graduates will learn one last lesson about artful storytelling from nationally syndicated columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner Connie Schultz.

Schultz writes about current issues and politics in her column for Creators Syndicate, and she has a feature column in Parade Magazine. She also hosts a popular Facebook page that fosters civil discussion and debate about a variety of controversial topics.

On May 13, Schultz will serve as the College’s 2016 May Commencement keynote speaker. Dean Maryanne Reed says Schultz is guaranteed to deliver an inspiring address to media graduates.

“Connie Schultz is an amazing writer and journalist with a strong independent voice,” said Dean Reed. “But she’s also able to bring people together across political lines to grapple with controversial issues and find common ground.”

In 2005, Schultz won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for columns that judges praised for “providing a voice for the underdog and the underprivileged.” Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Politico, Parade, The Atlantic, ESPN Magazine, and Democracy Journal.

Schultz also won the 2005 Scripps Howard National Journalism Award for Commentary and the National Headliner Award for Commentary. In 2003, she was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in feature writing for her series, “The Burden of Innocence,” which chronicled the ordeal of Michael Green, who was imprisoned for 13 years for a rape he did not commit. The week after her series ran, the real rapist turned himself in after reading her stories. The series won the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Social Justice Reporting, the National Headliner Award’s Best of Show and journalism awards from Harvard and Columbia universities.

She won the Batten Medal in 2004, which honors “a body of journalistic work that reflects compassion, courage, humanity and a deep concern for the underdog.”

Schultz is a fellow with the Vietnam Reporting Project. Her 2011 series, “Unfinished Business,” explored the long-term impact of Agent Orange in the U.S., and in Vietnam. The series won The Associated Press Managing Editors Journalism Excellence Award in International Perspective. She has received six honorary degrees and has served as a Pulitzer Prize juror for the last two years.

Schultz is the author of two books published by Random House: “Life Happens – And Other Unavoidable Truths,” a collection of essays, and ”?and His Lovely Wife,” a memoir about her husband Sherrod Brown’s successful 2006 race for the U.S. Senate. She is currently working on her first novel.

In addition to her journalism career, Schultz is also an educator. She is currently serving as Professional in Residence at Kent State University.

The College of Media’s Commencement ceremony will be Friday, May 13, at 9:00 a.m. in the WVU Coliseum.

19 Apr

Professor Joel Beeson’s ground-breaking reporting project Fractured Tour is being recognized as the best overall faculty project at the 2016 Broadcast Education Association’s (BEA) Festival of Media Arts.

“Fractured Tour: An Immersive VR Tour of Selma’s Divides,” won the 2016 Chairman’s Award, which is decided by the former chairs of the Festival and is awarded annually to the best overall student and faculty entry. “Fractured Tour” was singled out of more than 1,500 submissions to win the award, which competed in the Faculty Interactive Multimedia category.

The immersive virtual reality project is a collaboration between Morgan State University’s School of Global Journalism and Communication, a historically black urban institution, and the WVU Reed College of Media. Morgan State student Emily Pelland was the assistant producer for the piece. Selma-47

In addition to the Chairman’s Award, “Fractured Tour” won the BEA Best of Festival King Foundation Award—only 18 winners received this prestigious honor.

The BEA Festival of Media Arts is an international refereed exhibition of faculty creative activities and a national showcase for student work. The Festival seeks to enhance and extend creative activities, teaching and professional standards in broadcasting and other forms of electronically mediated communication.

Best of Festival winners are being honored this week at the 14th annual BEA Best of Festival King Foundation Awards Ceremony in Las Vegas as part of BEA’s annual convention.

19 Apr

She describes herself on Twitter as “Asia medical writer and Indonesia bureau chief for The Associated Press. Proud Mountain Mama.” Now West Virginia University Reed College of Media alumna Margie Mason can add Pulitzer Prize-winner. margie in india 2005

Mason and three AP colleagues have earned the Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for Public Service for their 18-month investigation of slavery and severe labor abuses tied to the supply of seafood to American supermarkets and restaurants. As a result of their work, more than 2,000 slaves have been freed, dozens of alleged perpetrators have been arrested and new legislation has been formed in the U.S. barring imports of slave-produced goods.

President Gordon Gee Mason’s brave reporting embodies the Mountaineer spirit of helping others.

“It is impossible to overstate the pride all of West Virginia University has today in alumna Margie Mason,” Gee said. “There is no higher distinction in journalism than that of being a Pulitzer Prize winner, and Margie’s work on The Associated Press’ team that documented the use of slave labor in the Southeast Asian commercial seafood trade shows the determination that Mountaineers possess. From Daybrook, West Virginia, and Clay-Battelle High School, to the top of the journalism world is a remarkable journey – and West Virginia University is proud to have been a part of that path.”

Margie Mason and George Esper-2006 Mason is a 1997 graduate of the P.I. Reed School of Journalism (now WVU Reed College of Media.) There she met her role model, the late George Esper. He was the School’s Ogden Newspapers Visiting Professor and a former Associated Press correspondent, who covered the Vietnam War for 10 years. Mason credits some of her success to Esper and other mentors at the School.

“George would be smiling right now,” said Maryanne Reed, Dean of the College of Media. “More than anyone, George believed in Margie’s talent, fierce ambition and heart. He encouraged her to follow her dream to be an international correspondent.”

Mason said, “Very early on, I gravitated toward certain professors, especially those who had amazing track records as journalists. They helped me.

“There were a lot of people there who wanted me to succeed. But certainly, I never dreamed I would be part of a team that would win a Pulitzer.”

The award-winning team includes Mason, Esther Htusan, Robin McDowell and Martha Mendoza. Together they uncovered Burmese fishermen enslaved in horrific conditions on the remote Indonesian island village of Benjina. The men were often kept in locked cages and beaten. Using shoe-leather reporting, old-fashioned stakeouts and satellite photography, Mason and her colleagues tracked the seafood caught by the enslaved men to dinner tables around the world and to U.S. grocery stores and restaurants.

Although many would call their actions heroic, Mason says the men who fearlessly shared their stories are the real heroes.

“We’re excited and proud, but this work was really about these men,” Mason said. “They’re the brave ones. They risked their lives to tell their stories, and they opened the public’s eyes to a problem that had gone on for a very long time—and continues to go on. They’re the ones who should be getting the credit here. The men who came forward should be the focus, not us.”

The team’s work may have exposed the slave trade and linked it to the U.S., but Mason says the story is far from over.

“The problem has not gone away, unfortunately, and we are committed to continuing this work,” Mason said.

Mason’s career in journalism started at The Dominion Post in Morgantown when she was 19. She made $5 an hour as a typist and began working her way up. She worked as a part-time reporter until she graduated from WVU.

Upon graduating, she joined the AP in Charleston, and later moved on to the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville. Mason subsequently won a fellowship in Asian Studies and attended the University of Hawaii, concentrating on Southeast Asia and the Vietnamese language. In 2000, she marked the 25th anniversary of the fall of Saigon by traveling as a freelancer to Vietnam with Esper. Margie Mekong bird flu

Mason returned to the AP later that year, working first in San Francisco. She transferred to Hanoi in January 2003 and was named Asia medical writer in 2005. She remained in Vietnam until 2012, when she moved to Jakarta and was named Indonesia bureau chief. In addition to her work at the AP, Mason was a 2009 Nieman fellow at Harvard University.

Mason and her team will accept their award at a ceremony next month. This is the Centennial celebration of the Pulitzer Prize, which honors excellence in Journalism and the Arts.

Read the official release on WVU Today.

6 Apr

Last spring, journalism students from West Virginia University Reed College of Media and Morgan State University, a historically black university, traveled together to Selma, Alabama, to collaboratively confront issues of race and representation. Now their social justice reporting project is up for a national award.

Bridging Selma won first place in the Best Use of Multimedia category at the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Region 4 Mark of Excellence Awards. SPJ recognized its 2015 winners at the spring conference April 2 in Cincinnati.

Using Selma as their classroom, and guided by faculty from both universities, student journalists used text, photos, video and virtual reality to tell revealing stories from the town’s past, present and future.

Bridging Selma will move on to SPJ’s national contest where it will compete against winners from all-12 regions. Winners will be notified in late spring and will be recognized at The 2016 Excellence in Journalism Conference held in New Orleans in mid-September.

In addition to the first-place award, the College of Media had six finalists in multiple categories of the regional competition comprised of colleges from Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia and western Pennsylvania. They are:

Best All-Around Television Newscast
WVU News Goes Green, produced by Taylor Lasota

Television Breaking News Reporting
Hazing Charges, by Jamie Robinson
DUI, by Jamie Robinson

Television In-Depth Reporting
Fracking, by Jamie Robinson
Volkswagen Scandal, by Shaleah Ingram

Television Sports Reporting
International Players, by Ally Brandfass

The SPJ awards honor the best in student journalism and are judged by professionals with at least three years of journalism experience. View a release with the complete list of winners online.

30 Mar

The age gap between millennials and baby boomers can make it difficult to target both generations for a retail career, but four College of Media students easily maneuvered the hurdles and successfully dreamed up a winning answer to this real-life dilemma. Target-Logo

The challenge was part of the second-annual Target Case Study Competition held at WVU earlier this semester. Participants were asked to increase recruitment and retention of younger and older generations of employees at Target. The contest was open to undergraduates of all majors, and students worked in groups of two to four people.

Strategic communications senior Hannah Toney and her teammates won first place. Toney credits her classes at the College of Media for her team’s strong performance.

“In every single class that I’ve ever had, we’ve talked about case studies,” said Toney. “Those experiences were the best preparations for me and the team because we know what goes into a case study and the components of a strong report.”

All four members of the winning team are College of Media students and members of WVU Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). They are Toney, PRSSA president; Hannah Harless, strategic communications junior and chapter analysis chair; Elizabeth Frattarole strategic communications junior and social engagement director; and Gwen Wygal strategic communications senior.

The team had to research, compile and present a report to the Target panel. Some of the key points of their winning plan included changing job titles, enhancing the company’s social media use, offering competitive wages and bettering millennial appeal through strong college ambassador programs.

“I love doing traditional public relations like writing experiences, press releases and learning about different organizations. That’s what attracted me to this competition,” said Frattarole. “We tapped into our research, writing and public relations skills to craft a perfect plan.”

Toney, Harless, Frattarole and Wygal won $800 for their clever idea.

22 Mar

Students at West Virginia University’s Reed College of Media are researching and reporting on water concerns through the College’s StreamLab project. Now they will join forces with journalists, watershed groups and citizen scientists to take a look at the opportunities, challenges and potential community role in using sensors to tell environmental stories. IIR_Sensors-22

“Sensing the Environment: Investigating Community Water Stories With Sensor Journalism,” is a free public workshop that will be held at the College’s Media Innovation Center April 30. This event is open to journalists who cover science and environmental stories, watershed groups, citizen scientists, journalism, science and engineering students.

The event will examine America’s growing water crisis, from the Elk River chemical spill in Charleston, West Virginia, to the lead contamination in Flint, Michigan. Our expert panel will discuss elevating environmental reporting and engaging citizens in science stories.

In addition, there will be demonstrations, hands-on activities and candid conversations—giving participants the opportunity to explore sensor journalism, its promise and peril.

Featured guests include former StreamLab Innovator-in-Residence and Senior Editor for Data News at public radio station WNYC in New York John Keefe; Fellow at Public Lab and Research Affiliate at MIT Media Lab Don Blair; Engineering Ph.D. student at Virginia Tech and a member of the team that was instrumental in exposing water contamination in Flint, Michigan, Emily Garner and Digital Editor and Coordinator for West Virginia Public Broadcasting Dave Mistich, who is also a former Innovator-in-Residence for the StreamLab project.

This project is sponsored by the Online News Association with support from Excellence and Ethics in Journalism Foundation, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, Knight Foundation, the Democracy Fund and the Rita Allen Foundation. The StreamLab project is part of the Knight-funded Innovators-in-Residence program.

In addition to the workshop, “In The Air: Visualizing What We Breathe” gallery exhibit will be featured. Photographers Lynn Johnson, Brian Cohen, Scott Goldsmith and Annie O’Neill have spent the last year recording people and places that illustrate the environmental, social and economic effects of air quality in Western Pennsylvania. Several of the photographers will be present at the meet and greet at the close of the workshop.

To register for the workshop and to get more information visit:

View More Posts >>