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Grant provides opportunity for MSU journalism students to learn from Lexington Herald-Leader staff

Eleven Murray State University journalism and advertising students recently received training in digital media strategies through an opportunity afforded by a Bring Learning to Life grant from Murray State’s Quality Enhancement Plan.

Leigh Wright, assistant professor of journalism and mass communications, heard about the Lexington Herald-Leader’s successes with digital advertising campaigns during a retreat of the Kentucky Press Association board. She then formed a partnership with fellow board member Kim Woods, vice president of marketing and advertising for H-L Media.

Wright received a grant from the QEP Bring Learning to Life program. The grant allowed 11 students and three journalism professors to receive training in multimedia news coverage, digital advertising and marketing strategies and social media strategies for news and advertising from the Lexington Herald-Leader staff.

Austin Gordon, right, looks over an assignment with fellow student Amanda Swift during a training at the Lexington Herald-Leader offices. (MSU Photo)

“Many news organizations are still struggling with making sense of the changing media landscape,” Wright said. “The Lexington paper has found success with digital advertising and multimedia news. Who better to train our students in cutting-edge techniques and give them an advantage when they go to internships and jobs.”

The training day consisted of two tracks: advertising and news. For the advertising track, students learned about digital products and how to manage a digital advertising campaign.

For the news track, students learned photography and videography techniques for one session. Editor Peter Baniak and columnist Tom Eblen discussed the role of social media and the need for verification, and Baniak concluded the session with lessons on how his paper uses analytics to determine social media strategy.

Participating students were: Kailey Buchanan, junior advertising major; Mackenzie Chapman, junior advertising major; Bryan Edwards, senior journalism major; Austin Gordon, junior graphic communications major; Collin Morris, sophomore journalism major; Blake Sandlin, freshman journalism major; Amanda Swift, freshman marketing major; Paige Tobey, junior advertising major; Dylan Townsend, junior GCM major; Ashley Traylor, sophomore journalism major; and Emily Williams, senior journalism major.

Wright, Gill Welsch, senior lecturer of advertising, and Bob Valentine, senior lecturer of advertising, accompanied the students.

“We are using the things we learned at the Herald-Leader to help the Murray State News provide its advertisers a better web presence through the paper’s website, TheNews.org,” Welsch said. “We are also using what we learned to keep our advertising curriculum as up-to-date as possible.

“The media industry is changing so quickly now that it is very hard to keep up,” he said. “We really appreciate the folks at the Herald-Leader for helping us remain current.”

Students who work at The Murray State News have already started to train the upcoming newspaper staff in some of the techniques they learned. Additional training will happen before school resumes in August.

“Students in my multimedia writing class saw lessons immediately from the Herald-Leader visit,” Wright said. “The visit helped reinforce what we are already doing in our journalism classes and add more tools to help students learn up-to-date media practices.”

Heather McGinnis, senior director of digital and client success at Herald Media, said the staff enjoyed a chance to share their knowledge and inspire college students.

“We’re very proud of the things that we have changed and adapted to in this age,” McGinnis said. “It really made us think about it from a different point of view, from a college student’s point of view. For us, it’s given us a lot of insight on the people we want to recruit and the talent that’s out there and how we can help students to hit the ground running when they graduate.”

The Bring Learning to Life grants strive to improve experiential learning outcomes through the implementation of learning experiences in which students apply the principles learned in the classroom to real-world settings.

Murray State University provides an “Opportunity Afforded” for more than 10,000 students through a high-quality education with experiential learning, academic and personal growth and the ability to secure a lifetime of success. The University’s main campus is located in Murray, Ky. and includes five regional campuses. For more information on Murray State University, please visit murraystate.edu.

From MSU Communications

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