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Social Media Week to Host Experts from Sports, Entertainment, Media, and More

Social Media Week 2018 logoUT’s seventh annual Social Media Week will kick off Tuesday, February 20, and continue through Thursday, February 22.

All Social Media Week events are free and open to the public. All sessions will be held in the Communications Building on Circle Park Drive.

The week will begin Tuesday, February 20, with a live remote broadcast by WUTK 90.3 FM in front of the Communications Building from 9 to 9:40 a.m.

Panel discussions and guest speakers will feature social media professionals representing a wide range of industries, including media, sports, entertainment, advertising, public relations, and security. Session topics are as follows:

Tuesday, February 20

  • Local Media and Social Media
  • Scripps Networks Interactive and Audience Engagement
  • The Dark Side of Social Media
  • The Post-Weinstein “New Normal” of Whistle-Blowers and Resulting PR Impact


Wednesday, February 21

  • Embracing Facebook Ads: Your New Social Media Superpower
  • Lunch and Learn Networking Event with the CCI Graduate Student Association
  • Sports Talk with John and Jimmy WNML Live Radio Remote

Thursday, February 22

  • Anti-Social: How I Turned a Social Media Job into the Role I Really Wanted
  • Social Media in the Age of Sports
  • The Revolution and Evolution of Marketing

Students will have the opportunity to participate in interactive and engaging dialogue with the guest speakers and social experts. Several UT alumni are among the panelists and speakers: Bryce Caldwell (’02), Marianne Canada (’10), Annie Carr (’16), Ashley Kerns (’05), Victoria Kline (’10), Karli Sanders (’10), Chance Vineyard (’11), Mary Beth West (’94), and Stephanie Wierwille (’11).

Those interested in supporting UT Social Media Week 2018 can do so with a gift to UT’s Public Relations Enrichment Fund. All events will be live streamed, archived, or both. A full schedule can be found on the UT Social Media Website.


JEM Emeritus Professor Herb Howard Dies at Eighty-nine

Herb HowardJournalism & Electronic Media Emeritus Professor Herb Howard passed away on Wednesday, December 13, 2017 at the age of 89. He is remembered as a legendary broadcaster and educator.

Howard, a native of Johnson City, Tennessee, was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 47 years, Alpha Day Howard, and one brother, Robert C. Howard.

He served 44 years as professor of Broadcasting and Journalism, 18 years as Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, and one year as acting dean of the College.

Herb Howard earned his bachelor's and master’s degrees from East Tennessee State University. He did additional graduate study at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; and he completed a PhD in Mass Communication from Ohio University in 1974. More information about his career can be found in the original alumni news release found at Those wishing to honor Herb Howard’s legacy with a gift to the college can do so by giving to the Herb Howard Endowment fund (HOWARD_H07)

George Devault (’71), Herb’s former student, president of Holston Valley Broadcasting in Johnson City and an emeritus CCI BOV members, gave the eulogy at Herb’s funeral. Here’s an excerpt from what George shared.

“Herb Howard was one of the kindest, gentlest persons I have ever known, and I knew him for 65 years. We both shared an intense love for radio and television broadcasting.

At an early age Herb was stricken with a rare crippling disease similar to polio.  It was while he was in various hospitals and bed-ridden at home that he listened to the radio ---- a lot of radio.  Even to the week of his passing he could tell you the history of just about every radio and TV station in the state and many, many outside Tennessee.  He knew what practically all of the call letters stood for.

By age 16 he had gotten his first part-time job at WJHL, his hometown station in Johnson City.  Due to his handicap, his father carried Herb into the station in his arms. That was in 1945 when almost all radio was AM or international short wave, but FM stations were beginning to appear in the Tri-City area.  Herb loved to tell a story about the beginnings of WJHL-FM.

By the fall of 1953 WJHL-TV was on the air shortly after an accident caused the station’s first tower to collapse.  Both the replacement temporary tower and the transmitter and studios were on Tannery knob near downtown Johnson City.  Herb spoke the first words heard on the station and became its first weatherman.  He also did general announcing and hosted a children’s program, which he had originally hosted on WJHL radio.”  

Larry Patrick (MS ’73), managing partner, Patrick Communications and CCI Board of Visitors member, who created the Herb Howard Distinguished Professorship in the School of Journalism and Electronic Media, shared his thoughts about Herb’s passing.

“The thing that I remember the most about Herb Howard was that he always treated me with an interest in topics that I wanted to study.  He always took the time to ask the penetrating questions and to listen to my answers.  He helped me submit my first journal article for publication while still a graduate student.  It grew out of a research project that I did for one of his classes.

Many years after my time at UT, when I had purchased my first radio station group, I invited Herb to come to one of the stations and spend a week during the summer seeing what our team was doing and to make suggestions.  He chose to come to WJDX/WMSI in Jackson, Mississippi, our big news-talk AM and country FM.  He was like a kid in a candy store once again.  In early every morning, he helped improve our news product.  He asked questions of our 14-person sales team and is even today fondly remembered there.

He also was able to do some ground-breaking research on broadcast station ownership with me when I worked at the NAB.  We used that research with the FCC and on the Hill.   Herb helped the industry look carefully at ownership and its impact on the viewing and listening public.  He framed the industry’s policy initiatives in this area for years.

I miss him terribly and cried for several hours when I learned of his passing.  He was a giant in the world of broadcast teaching and research.  I was lucky to study under him, and then stay in contact with him for decades.  I will miss Herb the most as a friend.  He is why I have endowed a professorship in his name.”

Several other former students and colleagues shared their remembrances and thoughts in the document linked here.

Herb Howard TAB Herb Howard Professorship

Herb Howard presented Tennessee Association of Broadcasters Distinguished Service Award presented to him by George DeVault in 2008.

Herb Howard with CCI Dean Mike Wirth at the ceremony announcing the establishment of the Herb Howard Professorship in 2013.

Herb Howard at Podium Leiter, Julian, Teeter, Howard

Herb Howard speaking at the 2013 ceremony.

Four CCI Legends – circa 2005. (L-R) Kelly Leiter, Faye Julian, Dwight Teeter and Herb Howard.

Students Making Film to Mark Parton’s 100 Millionth Book Giveaway

UT’s Land Grant Films has announceImagination Library documentaryd its most ambitious documentary yet: telling the story of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

Journalism and Electronic Media Associate Professor Nick Geidner, who leads Land Grant Films, came up with the idea for the project—dubbed 100 Million Stories—after learning the program was on target to give away its 100 millionth book early next year.

Parton started Imagination Library in 1996 in honor of her father, who was unable to read or write. It began as a free book program for children from birth to age five in Sevier County, and has since expanded across 50 states and four countries. The organization now donates roughly 1.1 million books each month.

100 Million Stories, Land Grant Films’ new documentary on Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, is its most ambitious documentary to date.

 “We hope to get national broadcast/cable exposure so people across the country can see this documentary,” said Geidner. “We also plan to screen the film in partnership with Imagination Library affiliate programs nationwide.”

Geidner said his interest in the project is personal.

“My son, Henry, has received the Imagination Library books from when he was born. He’s four and a half now, so, right when Imagination Library is giving out its 100 millionth book, he will be graduating from the program. It’s sad he’s growing up, but then it’s really cool to do this documentary and sort of give back to this amazing thing they’ve given us.”

Pictured on the right: This collection of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library books belongs to Henry Geidner, son of Professor Nick Geidner.Imagination Library collection

The documentary will feature a diverse group of individuals, including recipients of books, authors of books selected for the program, organizers, and volunteers—and the legend herself, Dolly Parton.

Two journalism and electronic media students, senior Brock Zych, from Kingsport, Tennessee, and junior Abby Bower from Knoxville who have worked with Land Grant Films for years, will serve as director of photography and producer, respectively.

The project is still in the planning stages with students researching subjects like children’s literacy, public policy, and authors.

“We’ve broken down the different angles and subjects that we want to cover in the documentary,” said Bower. “As producer for the project, I’ll be writing questions, setting up and conducting interviews, and writing the script for the documentary.”

The documentary team will be traveling all over the country conducting interviews and shooting footage. Land Grant Films hopes to fund the project through grants, corporate sponsorships, crowdfunding campaigns, and private donors.

CCI Honors School/Program Alumni and Faculty

CCI honored a notable graduate from each of its schools and programs at its annual awards and scholarship donor appreciation banquet on Friday, October 13. CCI’s 2017 faculty award winners were also recognized at the event.

“CCI alumni provide significant contributions to their organizations and communities,” said CCI Dean Mike Wirth. “It is an honor and privilege to annually recognize the accomplishments of some of our best graduates.”

2017 CCI Alumni AwardsThis year's honorees are:

  • Advertising Alumna of the Year: Erin Hauck, a 2007 graduate and senior director of digital investment for Hearts & Science in New York City.
  • Communication Studies Alumna of the Year: Amy Harp Donahue, a 2009 graduate with a 2011 Master’s. She is director of marketing and communications for River City Company in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
  • Information Sciences Alumna of the Year: Kendra Albright, earned her Master’s in 1985 and her PhD in 2002. She is director of the School of Information Science at Kent State University in Ohio.
  • Journalism and Electronic Media Alumna of the Year: Steve Dean, a 1974 graduate, is owner of FamFive Productions and creator of WBIR-TV’s Heartland Series.
  • Public Relations Alumna of the Year: Kellie Davie, a 2011 graduate, is founder of KeyCom PR in Nashville.

Also during the banquet, the college's highest alumni honor—the Donald G. Hileman Alumni Award—was presented to Dr. Martha Rogers, best-selling author and founder of Trustability Metrix (learn more here).

2017 CCI Faculty AwardsEach year CCI also recognizes faculty members for outstanding performance during the prior year. This year’s award recipients are:

“Congratulations to Rachel, Beth, Candace, Stephen, Mark and Courtney on their excellent work, which earned them this special recognition,” said Dean Wirth. “Their contributions to the college and university are notable and greatly appreciated!”

Four Notable CCI Alumni Received UTK Alumni Board of Director Awards

2017 UT Alumni Awards - CCI WinnersFour notable CCI alumni* were among the 19 UTK alumni who received 2017 UTK Alumni Board of Directors’ awards. This year’s award recipients from CCI were: Peyton Manning (BA/CS ’97), Charlie Tombras (BS/AD ‘64), Martha “Missy” Wallen (BA/CS ‘74) and Sharrie Williams (BS/JEM ‘01). Tombras, Wallen and Williams received their awards on September 11 at the annual UT Knoxville Board of Directors Awards Dinner at the Knoxville Convention Center (KCC). Manning received his award on September 22 at a special ceremony at KCC just prior to UT’s Join the Journey Campaign Kickoff Gala.

“These award recipients have contributed greatly to their professions, their communities and the University of Tennessee,” said CCI Dean Mike Wirth. “They inspire all of us, students, faculty, staff and alumni, to be the best we can be in everything we do.”

Peyton Manning, UT Distinguished Alumnus Award

Peyton Manning, founder of the PeyBack Foundation, is best known as a retired NFL quarterback. He was the first overall NFL Draft Pick in 1998. Among his many athletic awards, Manning has been a five time NFL MVP, a three time Best NFL Player ESPY Award recipient and, most recently, he's been elected to the College Football Hall of Fame. In 2013, he was selected as the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year. He is a CCI Honorary Board of Visitors member, a recipient of CCI’s Hileman Distinguished Alumni Award (2009) and a member of CCI’s Circle Park Society. His philanthropy has earned him the Byron “Whizzer” White Humanitarian Award and the 2017 Lincoln Medal. He was selected as a Top 100 University of Tennessee Alumnus by Tennessee Alumnus magazine in honor of its 100th year of publication.

Charlie Tombras, UT Alumni Professional Achievement Award

Charlie Tombras is CEO and president of The Tombras Group, a 250+ employee, full service advertising agency. In 2016, The Tombras Group was selected as the Palma Group’s Independent Agency of the Year. Ad Age awarded the company a Silver Medal as the 2015 National Agency of the Year. Tombras received the American Advertising Federation (AAF) Bob McCabe Silver Medal Award and numerous Addy Awards, and he was selected for the Knoxville AAF Hall of Fame. He is an emeritus member of CCI’s Board of Visitors, a member of CCI’s Bickel Society and a recipient of CCI’s Hileman Distinguished Alumni Award (2013). During the Vietnam War, Tombras served as an Airborne Ranger in the United States Army and was award the Bronze Star for Valor, the Bronze Star for Meritorious Achievement and the Air Medal.

Martha “Missy” Wallen, UT Alumni Service Award

Martha “Missy” Wallen is Knoxville Chairman of Pinnacle Financial Partners. She is immediate past-chair of CCI’s Board of Visitors, co-chair of CCI’s Journey to the Top 25 Campaign and a member of CCI’s Circle Park Society. Wallen previously served served on the executive committee of the UTK Alumni Board of Directors and as a member of the UT Knoxville Chancellor’s Associates.  Wallen recently established the William H. Swain Endowed Professorship in the School of Communication Studies in honor of her father and Room 314 in the Communications Building has been named “The Martha S. Wallen Classroom” in her honor. 

Sharrie Williams, UT Alumni Promise Award

Sharrie Williams is an anchor and news reporter for Disney/ABC’s WPVI-TV in Philadelphia. She progressed to this top five market position after serving similar roles at KTVT-TV in Dallas, WFOR-TV in Miami and WVTM-TV in Birmingham. . During her time at UT, she was one of the co-founders of The Volunteer Channel (TVC). Williams was recognized with a UT Accomplished Alumni Award in 2014 and has inspired classrooms of students with her career talks about setting high standards and achieving success through hard work and determination. In 2009, Williams was selected for the “Top 40 Under 40 Award” by Success South Florida

*Pictured: UTK Chancellor Beverly Davenport, Peyton Manning, Robert Lewis, president of the UT Knoxville Alumni Board, Sharrie Williams, Charlie Tombras and Missy Wallen.






College of Communication and Information to Honor Martha Rogers with Hileman Award

Martha RogersMartha Rogers, one of the world’s leading authorities on customer-focused business strategies, will receive the 2017 Donald G. Hileman Alumni Award from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s College of Communication and Information at the college’s awards and scholarship donor appreciation banquet on Friday, October 13.

Rogers received her doctorate from the college in 1983. She is a bestselling author and co-founder of Peppers and Rogers Group. Her latest endeavor is the formation of CX Speakers, which delivers workshops, keynote presentations, and thought leadership consulting focused on customer experience topics. In 2015, Rogers founded Trustability Metrix, designed to help companies understand how they are trusted by customers, employees, and business peers.

Rogers’ counsel and insight are regularly sought by Fortune 500 and Blue Chip executives who are trying to crack the code on customer measurement and value, business strategy, trust, corporate culture, innovation, and the effect of emerging technologies. In 2015, Rogers and her business partner, Don Peppers, topped Satmetrix’s top 25 list of the most influential customer experience leaders. Business 2.0 magazine named her as one of the 19 “most important business gurus” of the past century, and the World Technology Network cited her as “an innovator most likely to create visionary ripple effects.”

Rogers and Peppers have co-produced a legacy of international best-sellers that have collectively sold more than a million copies in 18 languages.

Inc. Magazine’s editor-in-chief called their first book, The One to One Future, “one of the two or three most important business books ever written,” while Business Week said it was the “bible of the customer strategy revolution.” Their ninth book, Extreme Trust: Turning Proactive Honesty and Flawless Execution into Long-Term Profits, was named to LinkedIn’s 2017 summer reading list. And the third edition of their graduate school textbook, Managing Customer Experience and Relationships: A Strategic Perspective, is the definitive textbook in the field. It has been cited over 10,000 times and serves as a reference book for practitioners.

Rogers began her career as a copywriter and advertising executive. In academia, she has most recently served as an adjunct professor at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, where she co-directed the Teradata Center for Customer Strategy.

Rogers has been widely published in academic and trade journals, including Harvard Business Review, Journal of Advertising Research, Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, and Journal of Applied Psychology. She has been named International Sales and Marketing Executives’ Educator of the Year. She has blogged for Huffington Post and elsewhere. She lives in New York City with her husband, Emmy-award winning talk show host Dick Cavett.

“The impact Martha Rogers has had on how businesses interact with their customers has been profound,” said CCI Dean Mike Wirth. “The strategic insights, creativity and academic rigor she brings to bear on her analysis of customer experience and relationship management puts her at the forefront of the world’s leading customer experience experts. We are proud to present her with CCI’s 2017 Hileman Award in acknowledgement of her remarkable accomplishments.”




CCI’s Diversity and Inclusion Week 2017 Recap

2017 D&I Week KeynotersThe College of Communication and Information’s eighth annual Diversity and Inclusion Week - September 25–28 - featured keynotes by UT Chancellor Beverly Davenport and Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, nine panel sessions and a diversity festival.

Over 1,100 people attended the four day event, which dealt with a variety of topics including: mental health and media effects, being comfortable in your own skin, social media and trolling, immigration and respect for the America dream, respect for religion, free speech and politics, disagreeing in a civil fashion, and bridging hidden divides.The theme for 2017 was “Diversity and Inclusion: R-E-S-P-E-C-T.”

Participants had the opportunity to gain skills and knowledge through dialogue about diversity and inclusion issues and to share best practices by interacting with leaders and experts from the college, university and community.                    

UT Chancellor Beverly Davenport delivered Monday’s keynote during which she discussed the importance of diversity to the University of Tennessee and to those who hire UT’s graduates. She also shared her personal journey with respect to diversity and said that since becoming UT Knoxville’s chancellor, she has re-established support for the UT Pride Center and appointed a new Pride Center director. In addition, she has provided funds for Title IX education and training, and appointed a Title IX campus coordinator.  She closed her remarks by affirming her commitment to make UT a campus that is open and welcome to all.

Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero was Wednesday’s keynoter . She recounted many of her experiences growing up in South Florida and the impact those experiences had on her life. As Knoxville’s first female mayor, Rogero has made diversity a hallmark of her administration by implementing diversity and inclusion plans in the city’s hiring, enacting nondiscrimination ordinances, and considering diversity during contractor and vendor selection. See the WBIR-TV story about her keynote at Rogero was the recipient of CCI’s 2013 Diversity Award.

2017 Diversity & Inclusion Week FestivalThe week concluded with a Diversity Festival that featured an all-campus barbecue along with diverse music, dance, games, a photo booth, and cultural performances. CCI student organizations hosted activities as part of the festival. A complete list of the week's activities can be found here.

CCI Experts Weigh in on Recent Fake News

Fake NewsCCI doctoral student Brandon Boatwight and JEM Senior Lecturer Melanie Faizer were recently interviewed by WVLT-TV about the fake news circulating after the mass shooting in Las Vegas. The story captures the interrelation and connection between the communication and information disciplines within CCI and highlights CCI’s Adam Brown Social Media Command Center. To top it off, the multimedia journalist reporting the story, Sarah Jane Anderson, is a 2015 JEM graduate. See the full story at



Respect Is Focus of CCI Diversity and Inclusion Week

D&I WeekThe College of Communication and Information’s eighth annual Diversity and Inclusion Week, September 25–28, will feature keynote addresses by Chancellor Beverly Davenport and Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero along with eight panel sessions and a diversity festival.

The four-day event offers participants an opportunity to learn about diversity and inclusion issues and best practices through dialogue with leaders and experts from inside and outside the college, university, and community.

This year’s theme is “Diversity and Inclusion: R-E-S-P-E-C-T.”

Davenport will speak at 5 p.m. Monday, September 25, in Patrick Auditorium on the third floor of the Communications Building. A pre-keynote reception will begin at 4:30 p.m. in the lobby outside the auditorium.

Since becoming UT Knoxville’s chancellor, Davenport has voiced support for the UT Pride Center, provided funds for Title IX education and training, and appointed a full-time Title IX coordinator for the campus. When she was interim president of the University of Cincinnati, Davenport launched a new five-year enterprise-wide diversity and inclusion plan.

Rogero will speak at 5 p.m. Wednesday, September 27, in Patrick Auditorium. Her keynote will be preceded by a reception in the Communications Building lobby at 4:30 p.m. Rogero is the recipient of the 2013 CCI Diversity Award.

The first female mayor of Knoxville, Rogero has made diversity a hallmark of her administration by implementing diversity and inclusion plans in the city’s hiring, enacting nondiscrimination ordinances, and considering diversity during contractor and vendor selection.

A variety of panel discussions will be held throughout the week, including “Mental Health and Media Effects,” “Being Comfortable in Your Own Skin,” “Social Media and Trolling,” “Immigration and Respect for the American Dream,” “Respect for Religion,” “Free Speech and Politics,” “Disagreeing in a Civil Fashion,” and “Bridging Hidden Divides.” An open forum focused on emotional intelligence in the classroom will be hosted by the CCI Diversity Student Leaders Society on Tuesday evening.

The week will wrap up Thursday, September 28, with a Diversity Festival featuring an all-campus barbecue along with diverse music, dance, games, a photo booth, and cultural performances. CCI student organizations will host activities as part of the festival. The event will be from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Communications Building.

A complete list of activities can be found online. All sessions are free and open to the public and will be streamed online.

What’s the World Saying? Check Out the Social Media Command Center

Hurricane Harvey Feed in ABSMCCWonder what the world is saying about Hurricane Harvey and the havoc it’s wreaking on the Houston area and elsewhere?

There were more than 470,000 social media mentions of #HoustonStrong between August 28 and 31. You can check out the chatter for whatever is trending on the displays in the Adam Brown Social Media Command Center, in Room 460 of the Communications Building.

“Our goal is to have visualizations of trending issues and topics up on the big screen on a daily basis,” said Courtney Childers, associate professor and executive director of the center.

The center provides College of Communication and Information faculty, staff, and students access to the same leading technology that Fortune 100 companies worldwide use to publish, engage, and analyze their social media marketing activities. Salesforce Social Studio maintains a data set of public social media posts dating back to 2008, including content from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr, Google+, LinkedIn, blogs, mainstream media outlets, and more.

“CCI faculty and students are using Salesforce Social Studio technology in related coursework and research," said Childers. "Ongoing projects include analyzing current news stories, political campaigns, Super Bowl advertising, crisis communication efforts, and social media engagement of topics vital to local businesses and organizations. We invite everyone to stop by so we can show off this sophisticated social listening tool.”

On Tuesdays and Wednesdays this semester, the Adam Brown Social Media Command Center is offering drop-in “office hours” for demonstrations open to everyone in the UT community.

Social listening is vital for many disciplines outside of CCI. “Across campus, we encourage faculty, staff, and students to engage in social listening to see how it can supplement their research and teaching,” Childers said. “We are open to cross-campus experiences—both in the classroom and with research projects—and are happy to work with those outside of CCI to produce customized profiles on an array of topics and issues during our drop-in office hours.”

Learn more by following the center, @utccismcc on Instagram and Twitter.

Journalism Students Produce Documentaries about Local Vietnam Vets

Three short documentaries about local Vietnam veterans made by UT journalism students were featured at Knoxville’s First Friday on September 1. They will air on East Tennessee PBS stations in conjunction with the broadcast of Ken Burns’s new epic documentary, The Vietnam War.

Tim Morris

The short films—made by journalism and electronic media seniors Tim Morris, Isaac Fowler, Isaac Ward, and Jessie Tipton—have been compiled into Defenders of the Dream, which premiered at 5 p.m. on September 1 at a First Friday event hosted by the East Tennessee Historical Society. The film premiere was followed by a panel discussion led by JEM Associate Professor Nick Geidner.

Isaac Fowler

East Tennessee PBS will air Defenders of the Dream at 10:30 p.m. on September 14; at 7 p.m. on September 17, and at 11 p.m. on September 24. The 10-part, 18-hour Ken Burns documentary will air throughout the month of September on ETPBS starting September 17. Check local listings for times.

The students’ films bring a personal and local perspective on the war in Vietnam.

Isaac Ward

“It was amazing to watch the process the students went through while making these three films,” said JEM Associate Professor Nick Geidner. “Their experience in researching and shooting their films refocused their understanding of the Vietnam War, which in turn affected the films they ended up making.”

Jesse Tipton

Geidner leads Land Grant Films, which is the supporting organization for this project. Part of the funding for the documentaries was raised through a successful VolStarter crowdfunding effort. The project was also supported by an Experience Learning grant from UT's Office of the Provost.

Morris and Fowler directed Welcome Home Brother. Their eight-minute film documents the experiences of three Vietnam veterans as they find their voice in East Tennessee through the help of the Vietnam Veterans Association. For this project, Morris, originally from San Diego, California, and Fowler, a native of Roane County, Tennessee, were paired with mentor Rich Middlemas. Middlemas, a 1997 JEM alumnus, is the Academy Award–winning producer of the feature documentary, Undefeated.

Ward, of LaFollette, Tennessee, was mentored by Knoxville–based filmmaker Doug McDaniel for his film, Life after War. The seven-minute documentary tells the story of two veterans from Oneida, Tennessee, and chronicles their struggles with employment after the war. McDaniel is the author of four books and produced his first feature film in 2013, The Lovelies of John Alan Maxwell.

Tipton created an eight-minute documentary film, A Hero’s Welcome: The Bill Robinson Story, profiling Captain Bill Robinson, the longest–held enlisted POW in American history. Held captive for seven and a half years, Robinson dedicated his life to serving his fellow veterans upon returning home to East Tennessee. Tipton had a close relationship with his late grandfather, who was a Vietnam veteran; that relationship inspired him to tell the story of other veterans.

“This hands-on experience has offered our students an extraordinary opportunity to further their knowledge in journalism and documentary filmmaking,” said Catherine Luther, director of the School of Journalism and Electronic Media. “Without the support of generous donors, a Provost’s Office grant, and the efforts of Dr. Geidner, this project would not have come to fruition. Many thanks to those who continue to invest in our students’ aspirations.”

Mariea Hoy Awarded Inaugural DeForrest Jackson Professorship

Mariea HoyMariea Hoy, a professor in the School of Advertising and Public Relations, is the inaugural recipient of the DeForrest Jackson Professorship.

The school’s first named professorship, the DeForrest Jackson Professorship was created earlier this year with a $500,000 gift from Suzanne Sackleh Masters of Atlanta, who received her bachelor’s degree in advertising and public relations in 1989. Masters made the gift in honor of her favorite professor, DeForrest Jackson.

Jackson came to UT after retiring as communications director for Coca-Cola in Atlanta. He earned his master’s degree in communications from UT and went on to serve as an associate professor of advertising until he retired in 1996. He died in 2013.

The Jackson Professorship will be held by tenured faculty members on a three-year rotating basis. It rewards and recognizes an outstanding School of Advertising and Public Relations faculty member whose research, teaching, and academic and professional service have uniquely contributed to the mission of the school, the College of Communication and Information, and the university.

Hoy has been at UT since 1989. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Central Oklahoma and a master’s and doctorate in business administration, from Oklahoma State University. She teaches advertising research, advertising and society, and advertising campaigns. Her research focuses on public policy areas such as advertising disclosures, advertising to children, online privacy, and covert advertising.

To date, CCI has raised $11.92 million of its $15 million Journey to the Top 25 campaign goal.

Advertising and PR Students Visit Disney's In-House Agency

ADPR trip to Disney Ad AgencyLast month advertising students with the School of Advertising & Public Relations visited Disney for a behind-the-scenes look with the Disney Youth Education Series. Disney’s Yellow Shoes Creative Group is the in-house advertising agency for Disney Destinations, which encompasses Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Vacation Club, and Adventures by Disney. The agency consists of a diverse and talented cast of writers, designers, artists, media buyers, and planners, specializing in all forms of marketing communications and media.

When asked about the trip Kendall Thompson had this to say, "There were so many amazing moments on this trip, from wandering through the parks to take a behind-the-scenes look at Yellow Shoes, that it's hard for me to pick a favorite! Meeting with some of the creatives that support the Disney brand and getting to pick their brains was definitely a highlight. Taking a peek into the ad archives was really cool, too! I doubt I would get to do that on any other Disney trip. At Yellow Shoes, we learned how the agency functions with the larger Disney company. We also go to talk to a few of the interns about their journey. I found their advice about traversing the application process to be helpful."

Disney Youth Education Series are educational workshops geared toward university students to assist in their professional development. Participants are exposed to and take part in the strategies and techniques used by Leaders at Walt Disney World in creating lasting memories for their guests. Participants in these programs are able to expand their knowledge and skills through engaging challenges, observations and interactions with Cast Members and Leaders of Walt Disney World. Programs cover such topics as creative development, techniques of teamwork, leadership strategies, and corporate culture.

The tour of Disney’s Yellow Shoes Creative Group provided an opportunity for students to learn and experience what it is like to be part of one of the most admired companies in the world. Provided with an insider’s view from one of the agency’s leading creative directors, the students were treated to a comprehensive review of the roles of various members of the organization, the creation and development of certain projects that the agency had been tasked with, and an opportunity to listen and speak with current interns regarding career development in the field of advertising.


UT students, professor produce documentary on refugees

Landgrant Films logoNick Geidner, JEM assistant professor, and his students have been working on another Landgrant Films documentary about refugee families resettled in the Knoxville area. Local Knoxville station WBIR-TV produced a news story about the project. To view the story about this unique learning opportunity, view the story at

Eclipse 2017: Everything You Need to Know

Mark LittmannFlorence Andsager and her siblings were playing outside their Kansas farmhouse one afternoon in June 1918 when the cloudless sky began to darken and day turned to night. The children hurried inside and huddled with their parents, the whole family convinced that the world was coming to an end. It was before the days of radio and the family had no way of hearing about a total eclipse of the sun, nor did they know what to expect. Now almost a hundred years later, thanks to advancing technology, we can pinpoint not only the day but also the exact time of an eclipse. For the full story see


Palenchar Named CCI Associate Dean

Michael PalencharAdvertising & Public Relations (ADPR) Associate Professor Michael J. Palenchar has been appointed as CCI’s new Associate Dean for Academic Programs effective July 1, 2017.  

Palenchar is an internationally known scholar whose research and teaching interests include risk and crisis communication, issues management, community awareness of emergency response protocols and manufacturing risks, community right-to-know issues, front groups, and social media during risk situations. He joined UT’s faculty in 2004 and has close to three decades of professional experience working in corporate, nonprofit, and agency environments.

Palenchar’s research has been published in the Journal of Public Relations Research, Public Relations Review, Management Communication Quarterly, Public Relations Journal, Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, Environmental Communication, and Communication Research Reports. He is the co-author of Strategic Issues Management (2nd Ed.) with Robert Heath, University of Houston, and has more than 120 journal articles, book chapters, and conference symposia and presentation publications including pre-conferences, panels, and invited speaking engagements. With co-author Robert L. Heath in 2000 and Kathy Fitzpatrick in 2007, he won the Pride Award from the National Communication Association’s Public Relations Division, for the top published article in the field of public relations. In 2008, he received CCI’s Faculty Research Award.

Palenchar’s service and outreach for UT, CCI, and ADPR includes: chairing UT’s Undergraduate Council, co-chairing CCI’s ACEJMC Accreditation Self-Study Committee, chairing UT’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) Writing Committee as part of UT’s SACS Accreditation, and serving as faculty adviser for ADPR’s Sammie Lynn Puett Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. He received CCI’s 2009, 2011 and 2014 Faculty Outreach/Service Award. His professional service includes serving as: a Board Member of the Commission for Public Relations Education, former chair of the National Communication Association's Public Relations Division and a member of the editorial board of four scholarly journals.

“Michael Palenchar is an excellent addition to CCI’s administrative team,” said CCI Dean Mike Wirth. ““I look forward to working with him as we continue to evolve and grow our academic programs.”

Palenchar holds a PhD from the University of Florida in mass communication, a Master’s from the University of Houston in communication and a Bachelor’s degree in public relations from the University of Texas at Austin. To see more details about his achievements, see

HGTV Founder Receives Honorary Degree, Tells Grads to Listen, Learn, Love

Ken Lowe receiving Honorary Degree

Ken Lowe, CEO of Scripps Networks Interactive and founder of HGTV, received an honorary doctorate in humane letters during the College of Communication and Information ceremony on Thursday, May 11, 2017.

Lowe spoke to graduates about his own career and some of the life lessons he’s learned along the way.

“I’ve never regretted a single day since I dedicated myself to turning the dream of HGTV into reality,” he said, joking that he tried to get the network’s popular Property Brothers to come with him.

“But you know as well as I do that love is more than career, or vision, or leaving your mark on the world. I’m more than a path to success of accumulating material things.

Ken Lowe Hooding

Speech video

“Love is mostly about relationships. It’s about family and friends. Those closest to you, the people who know you best, who you rely on and who rely on you,” he said, acknowledging his parents—now married for 70 years—in the crowd.

“Take the time to honor those you love by being present for them. Never give them and that part of your life short shrift.”

Ken Lowe Commencement Speech

Lowe summed up his advice to graduates in three words: love, listen and learn.

“Hear the people around you,” he said. “Think about what they’re saying. Listen—not for a pause in the conversation so that you can say what you want to say, but to truly listen to understand. Communicate one to one, face to face, and really get to know each other. See life from their perspective.”

He congratulated the graduates for earning their degrees but said, “I’m sure you know by now that there’s a whole heck of a lot of stuff you don’t know, even with your valuable college education."

“Whether you decide to go on to earn advanced degrees, or whether you’re jumping right into a career, I encourage you to remain intellectually curious. Read. Expand your horizons. Give new ideas a chance. Keep an open mind.”

He concluded by telling the graduates that commencement isn’t the end but the beginning of an exciting journey.

“Sometimes it will seem that the world is at your feet, and at other times it might not feel so easy. The lessons you’ve learned over the course of your studies, the friendships you’ve made, the principles you’ve developed, the ideas you’ve formed—all of these will hold you in good stead as you head down the road into the future.”

Lowe was one of three noted commencement speakers who received honorary degrees this spring; the others were Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt and Tennessee’s 48th Governor Phil Bredesen. With these three, UT has granted 17 honorary degrees.

HGTV Founder to Receive Honorary Degree at CCI Commencement

Ken Lowe

Ken Lowe, chairman of the board, president and CEO of Scripps Networks Interactive, Inc., will receive an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Tennessee at the College of Communication and Information’s 2017 Commencement Ceremony on May 11 at 3:30 p.m. in Thompson Boling Arena. Lowe will also deliver the commencement speech to the graduates.

“We are honored to present Ken Lowe with the 15th honorary degree ever awarded by the University of Tennessee and to have him address our graduates,” said CCI Dean Mike Wirth. “His visionary leadership, innovative spirit, outstanding accomplishments and strong commitment to diversity serve as an inspiration to our faculty and students. We greatly appreciate the opportunities and support he and Scripps Networks Interactive have provided to CCI and UT over the years.”

Previously, Lowe was President and CEO of The E.W. Scripps Company from 2000 until 2008, when Scripps Networks Interactive became a separate, publicly traded company.

Prior to 2000, Lowe was Chairman and CEO of Knoxville-based Scripps Networks. He built the company into one of the world's fastest growing and most successful creators of unique brands for television and the Internet. He founded and launched HGTV in 1994; oversaw the acquisition and transformation of the Food Network into an American pop culture icon; presided over the launches of the DIY Network and the Cooking Channel as well as the acquisitions of the Travel Channel in 2009 and Great American Country television network in 2004. Since 2009, he has directed the company’s rapid expansion as a global media company, including the 2015 acquisition of Poland’s premier multi-platform and multi-channel media company, TVN. Lowe also guided the development of the company’s growing portfolio of interactive content services in the food and home lifestyle categories. The company’s media businesses now collectively engage more than 190 million consumers worldwide each month.

Lowe joined Scripps in 1980 as General Manager of the company's radio properties. In 1988, he became Vice President of Programming, Promotion and Marketing for the company's nine network-affiliated television stations.

He began his career in radio with Southern Broadcasting in 1969 and continued with various management positions in radio and television with Harte-Hanks Broadcasting in the late 1970s.

Lowe, who was recently inducted into The Cable Hall of Fame, serves on the Board of Directors for the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, The Paley Center for Media and The Cable Center. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in radio, television and motion pictures from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

This is the third UT Honorary Doctorate awarded at a CCI commencement ceremony. The two previous recipients were civil rights pioneer and social activist Marian Wright Edelman (2015) and two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author and science journalist, John Noble Wilford (BS/JEM ’55)(2014).




Experts: Trump Not First President to Have Strained Relationship with Press

MartinezRoessnerDonald Trump is not the first president to have a strained relationship with the media.

Associate Professor Amber Roessner and Assistant Professor Michael Martinez, both from UT’s School of Journalism and Electronic Media, say many presidents—and their press secretaries—have at times been at odds with the press.

“While many presidents may have had conflicts with the media, they also recognized that they needed access to each other,” Martinez said. “With the advent of Twitter and the current president, that is changing.”

Martinez said social media has made it easy to circumvent the traditional media and go directly to the people, as Trump’s now-famous tweet made clear: “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”

Trump’s fixation with media coverage is not new either, according to Roessner, who said that all modern presidents since Lyndon B. Johnson have closely monitored media coverage of their administrations.

“Although Trump is exponentially more obsessed,” she added.

Here’s a look at some of the worst—and best—relationships between past White Houses and the press:

Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew

President Richard Nixon, like Trump, limited press access to the White House, circumvented mainstream media outlets, and tended to lash out at the “establishment press,” Roessner said, adding that Nixon was the first modern president to refer to the press as “the enemy.”

Martinez said Nixon’s resentment and adversarial relationship with the media started with the debates with John F. Kennedy before the 1960 election in which Kennedy was victorious. Nixon even attributed his loss to Kennedy to those debates.

When Nixon was finally elected president, he was wary of the media and did all he could to manage the image he projected, Martinez said.

Nixon’s breaking point came when he went on television to make an important pronouncement on his Vietnam War policies. It was carried live by all three networks and followed immediately with instant analysis by reporters who summarized the highlights of the speech and then criticized it as nothing new.

Nixon charged Vice President Spiro Agnew with taking the media to task for challenging his version of reality, Martinez said. Agnew spoke before a group of party loyalists in Iowa and delivered what has become known as the Agnew Doctrine, which made the “nattering nabobs of negativism” famous.

According to Roessner, the adversarial relationship with the press culminated with the Pentagon Papers verdict and the 1971 congressional hearings on the freedom of the press.

Gerald Ford

President Gerald Ford sought to turn around the combative relationship that Nixon had with the media as he tried to heal the country in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, Martinez said.

Only one month into office, Ford pardoned Nixon. Public reaction was mostly negative and that decision may have cost Ford the election of 1976 against Democratic opponent Jimmy Carter—one of the closest elections in history.

Press Secretaries 

Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer—who has had angry outbursts at the press during briefings and been criticized for ignoring reporters and sidestepping questions, and recently had to apologize for erroneous statements about the Holocaust—is not the first controversial presidential spokesperson.

Nixon’s press secretary, Ron Ziegler, and Ford’s, Ron Nessen, were often criticized for not being forthright or well informed.

By contrast, Carter’s press secretary, Jody Powell—who didn’t have a media background—is often considered one of the best modern press secretaries because of his commitment to an open administration and his role as Carter’s close advisor.

“People always sing the praises of Jody Powell. They knew what Jody was giving them was from the mouth of Jimmy Carter,” Roessner said.


Washington Post’s Achenbach Delivers Hill Lecture

Joel Achenbach

Joel Achenbach, acclaimed science writer for the Washington Post, delivered the 25th annual Alfred and Julia Hill Lecture, “Navigating the Era of Fake News, Pseudoscience, and Bunk,” on April 4, 2017.

“In our rapidly changing world of communications, everyone has become a journalist and the phenomenon of ‘fake news’ is pervasive,” said Mark Littmann, who holds the Julia G. and Alfred G. Hill Chair of Excellence in Science, Technology, and Medical Writing in the School of Journalism and Electronic Media. “Deciphering the truth has never been more difficult for news consumers.”

Achenbach joined the staff of the Washington Post in 1990. In 2005, he began writing the Post’s first blog, Achenblog, now the longest-running blog of any major newspaper in America. He has also written six books, two based on his enormously popular Washington Post column “Why Things Are,” explaining, often humorously, the science of everyday life.Joel Achenbach

Achenbach’s other popular science books examine the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, claims that aliens from outer space are visiting Earth, and George Washington’s plans to expand the United States westward.

“As we try to make sense of this world—new technologies, exotic drugs, novel hazards—we have to find a way to tell good information from bad information,” said Achenbach. “This has gotten harder in the age of the internet and social media in which disinformation easily becomes viral.” 

The Hill Lecture brings distinguished science journalists to campus to share their thoughts on science, society, and the mass media. The lecture series is made possible by an endowment created by Tom Hill and Mary Frances Hill Holton in honor of their parents, Alfred and Julia Hill, founders of the Oak Ridger. The Hill family’s endowment of the lecture series was a gift to the UT School of Journalism and Electronic Media in the College of Communication and Information. Video of this year's lecture can be found at