College Media

Learning in Action

by Gregory Adamo (Volume editor) Allan DiBiase (Volume editor)
Monographs VIII, 214 Pages


College Media: Learning in Action is a unique resource for journalism educators and students, media advisors, student personnel administrators, and students at any level – undergraduate or graduate – interested in learning theory and practice. Sixteen original, scholarly and diverse chapters encompass a wide range of methodologies that detail how students involved in college media organizations have formative experiences in a variety of different forms of publication and electronic media broadcasting. In part, the volume is assembled to help students and educators alike justify their practice and involvement at a time of change when new forms of social media, pressure to quantify learning outcomes, and budget issues in higher education are reshaping the undergraduate media landscape. This volume offers insight into how many journalism and media professionals began their careers and in doing so affirms the value of learning through direct experience and involvement.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • Advance Praise for College Media
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction (Gregory Adamo / Allan DiBiase)
  • Theory
  • Description and Narrative
  • Case Studies
  • Contextual Issues
  • Acknowledgments
  • References
  • Section One: Theory
  • Chapter One: Experience and Learning (Allan DiBiase)
  • Introduction
  • Experience and Learning
  • Aspects of Experience
  • Six Aspects
  • Experience in Our Time and Place
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Chapter Two: College Media as an “Extracurricular Activity”: Historical and Theoretical Perspectives (Melony Shemberger)
  • Introduction
  • Historical Background
  • Outcomes Generated by Extracurricular Activities
  • Theoretical Frameworks
  • Student Involvement
  • Pedagogical Theories
  • Subject-Matter Theory
  • Resource Theory
  • Individualized Theory
  • Student Development
  • Learning Theories
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Chapter Three: College Media and Leadership Training: Conceptualizing Student Leadership (Laura K. Dorsey-Elson)
  • Introduction
  • The Evolution of Leadership Studies
  • Leadership Theory
  • Leadership Characteristics and Styles
  • Leadership Training and Development
  • Leadership Training and Development in the College Context
  • Leadership Training Voices from College Media
  • What Types of Leadership Training are Offered in Your Specific College Media Context?
  • Conversations with Advisor or Manager (Executive Coaching)
  • Leadership Theory in Class (Formal Classroom Programs)
  • Formal Leadership Roles in College Media (Job Assignment)
  • Advice from Former Student Leaders (Mentoring)
  • Team Building Training (Outdoor Challenges)
  • Diversity Training, Games and Activities (Formal Classroom Program)
  • Experiential Exercises (Action Learning)
  • Leadership Training (Formal Classroom Programs)
  • Evaluations (360-degree Feedback)
  • What Do You Think the Impact is or was of the Leadership Training(s) and Your Experience in the College Media Context?
  • Conclusions and Recommendations
  • References
  • Section Two: Description and Narrative
  • Chapter Four: Why College Radio? (Len O’Kelly)
  • A Brief History of Broadcasting Pedagogy
  • The Students Speak Up
  • Should the School Keep its Station?
  • The Role of Student Media
  • References
  • Chapter Five: The Determinative Affect on Broadcast Development and Career Outcomes of Parental Influence and Changing Peer Group Dynamics: A Goffman Case Study Inside Student-Run College Radio (Leo J. Fahey)
  • Grounding
  • Narrative
  • Reflections
  • References
  • Chapter Six: Lessons Learned: How College Newsrooms Prepare Students for the Professional Newsroom and Beyond (Leigh Landini Wright)
  • College Newsrooms Prepare Students for Professional Roles
  • College Media Prepares Students for Teamwork and Leadership
  • Professionals Demand Digital Skills in Journalism Curriculums
  • Beyond the Newsroom
  • Learning Never Stops
  • References
  • Section Three: Case Studies
  • Chapter Seven: Student Newsmakers: A Case Study in Socialization and Professionalization (Kimberly Meltzer)
  • Studies of News Organizations and Journalists
  • Methodology
  • Analysis
  • Why Students Work for the Newspaper
  • How Student Journalists Work: Balancing of Schoolwork with Newspaper Staff Duties
  • How Student Journalists Work: Formal Norms and Routines of the Paper
  • Acquisition of New Members Through Interest Meeting at Beginning of Each Year; Progression from General Assignment Reporter to Beat Reporter to Editor
  • Elections and Election Protocol—How One Gets to Be An Editor
  • Daily and Weekly Schedule
  • Relationships Between Different Departments
  • Nightly Meetings (Editors’ Story Meetings; Executive Board Meetings)
  • Other Institutional Rules and Procedures
  • Independence from the University
  • Cultivating and Working within Professional Culture: Comparisons to Other College Papers, Professional Newspapers or Journalism Societies That Set Norms and Give Awards
  • Informal Relationships within the Organization
  • Conclusions about Student Newsmakers
  • References
  • Chapter Eight: Laws, Rules and Regulations: Student Media Learning Through Obstacles, Obstructionism and Opacity (Susan Kirkman Zake)
  • A Quest for Open Government and Transparency
  • Other Barriers to Information
  • Ferpa, Disciplinary Boards, and Parking Tickets
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Chapter Nine: The Learning Curve at Student Media: Old Challenges and New Trends (Haijing Tu)
  • The Story of Student Media Organizations at ISU
  • The Past of Student Media and Experiential Learning
  • Student Media in the Digital Age
  • Student Media and Professional Media Practice
  • Research Questions
  • Findings on Old Challenges and New Trends
  • Old Challenge No. 1: Learning Outcomes at Student Media
  • Old Challenge No. 2: Student Media vs. Professional Media
  • New Trends in Student Media Brought by New Media
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Chapter Ten: Dealing with Disruption: Learning Industry Lessons on the Job in Student Media (Susan Kirkman Zake)
  • A Look at the Oregon Daily Emerald
  • The “Evolution”: Stage One
  • Student Learning
  • The Western Kentucky University College Heights Herald
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Chapter Eleven: “Welcome to The Drew Vault”: Educating Students through College Radio (Christopher J. Anderson)
  • Introduction
  • College Radio as a Tool for Education and Outreach
  • The Drew Vault Radio Show
  • Educating Students through The Drew Vault
  • Future Opportunities for Educating Students and Alumni
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Chapter Twelve: The Shock of the New: A Case Study of Technological Innovation at a Student-Run University Television Station (K. Megan Hopper / John Huxford)
  • Introduction
  • Impact of Social Media on the Journalism Profession
  • Incorporating Social Media in Journalism Education
  • Utilizing Social Media Analytics at Illinois State University
  • TV-10
  • Methodology
  • Findings
  • Job Prospects
  • Privacy Issues
  • Traditional vs. Convergence Journalism Skills
  • Meaningful News
  • Lack of Promotion
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Section Four: Contextual Issues
  • Chapter Thirteen: Campus Media Advisors: Thoughts for the Future and Resources Available (Mortimer W. Gamble / Patrick J. Sutherland)
  • Shifts in Campus Media Advisors’ Roles and Functions
  • Assertive Advising: Attracting Audiences in the Digital Age
  • Assertive Advising: Teaching the Unemployed to be Self-employed
  • Assertive Advising: Preparing Journalists for a Global Beat
  • Sampling of Some Resources Available to Media Advisors
  • Campus Media Advisors and the Future
  • References
  • Chapter Fourteen: Learning Outcomes and Student Media (Gregory Adamo)
  • References
  • Chapter Fifteen: The Teaching Hospital Model of Journalism Education (Jacqueline Soteropoulos Incollingo)
  • Literature and Context
  • Methodology
  • Analysis
  • Defining the “Teaching Hospital Model,” Using the Term
  • Benefits of Immersive Journalism Education
  • Student Journalism Serving Audiences
  • Student Journalism Complementing—or Serving—Legacy Media
  • Challenges for Educators
  • Criticisms of the “Teaching Hospital Model”
  • Conclusions
  • References
  • Chapter Sixteen: Diversity, Learning and Media Organizations (Allan DiBiase / Charles McKinney)
  • Introduction
  • My Personal Passion for Student Media that Became Catalyst for Change
  • Reports from the Field: Approaches to Diversity
  • College of Staten Island
  • Seton Hall University
  • Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU)
  • Loyola University
  • A Lack of Diversity in Student Media Sparks Frustration, Debates Across the Country
  • Our World Around Us Is Changing
  • A Cycle of Apologies
  • Conclusions
  • References
  • Author Biographies
  • Index

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College newspapers, radio stations, and television outlets operate as unique spaces that allow students learning and leadership opportunities unobtainable elsewhere on most campuses. Students become exposed to issues as varied as planning, group dynamics, meeting deadlines, and coping with regulatory structures as well as larger matters like the benefits of diversity. Many of these features are ones students will encounter should they go on to careers in the media, but college media work also prepares individuals for almost any work situation that involves small group interaction, supervisory situations, and dealing with institutional pressures and constraints.

In this volume we are interested primarily in detailing the variety of ways students learn through participation in such organizations and making this available as justification for support of these rich, alternative learning opportunities. As colleges and universities assess their commitment to this kind of learning, and as newer forms of social media become more prominent, it becomes increasingly important to understand and describe what happens in these unique spaces lest they become assimilated into more ubiquitous templates for learning, or, eliminated completely as we next discuss.

In part, then, the point of departure in collecting the essays in this book was located in the evolving media landscape that has altered many traditional features of the undergraduate experience in media production. College newspapers are scaling back or eliminating print editions in order to go online, and FM licenses for college radio stations have been sold off or the stations shut down. Overall, the ← 1 | 2 → media consumption habits of both students and the public at large are changing rapidly as they have become accustomed to the immediacy of news and information via smartphones and tablets.

Threats to the independence or even the existence of college media entities have received attention over the past several years. In 2012 much of the staff of the University of Georgia’s student newspaper, The Red and Black, including the top editors, resigned, claiming “interference, even censorship, by the nonstudent managers hired to oversee it” (Pérez-Peña, 2012, para. 1). The student journalists felt they were being pressured to be more of a public relations vehicle for the University.

College radio has a long and extensive history of getting squeezed out by more powerful forces. Beginning in the early 1970s National Public Radio built its foundation on professionalizing student-operated educational FM stations and lobbying the FCC to change its rules on low-power FM, thereby forcing many college stations off the air. In 1978 the FCC issued an order that required 10-watt stations to increase power to 100 watts or subject themselves to encroachment from higher-power stations. This eliminated a relatively inexpensive way for colleges to broadcast. It was also a step toward professionalizing college radio, often eliminating any student involvement. According to Dunbar-Hester, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and NPR “sought to consolidate the FM band to expand NPR in large part through absorbing existing stations into the network” (2014, p. 6).

Since 2010 the University of San Francisco, Rice University, Georgia State, and Vanderbilt University all sold their FM radio stations. The Chronicle of Higher Education identified this as a trend that started in the 1990s when a number of college stations, “were driven onto the Web or into oblivion when college administrators decided to sell their licenses for much-needed cash” (Troop, 2011, para. 2). Vanderbilt used the $3.35 million from the sale of WRVU to finance an endowment for student media at the university, including publications and a version of WRVU that would be available to those with HD radio receivers. The endowment was seen as necessary since other funding sources, such as advertising in the student newspaper, were drying up.

These developments have become obvious in all forms of student media across the nation. In 2012, as the Washington Times pointed out,

The ever tightening financial situation for many colleges may be the impetus for selling off some of these resources, but these actions have also caused negative publicity for the institutions, and bitter feelings among alums, some vowing not ← 2 | 3 → to donate to their alma mater. And then there is the core issue that this volume addresses: The loss of valuable creative and learning spaces for students (Student Press Law Center, 2014).

Absent in much of the discussion of these developments is consideration of student media as an important resource in the educational mission of the university. As essays in this volume will show, college newspapers, news bureaus, television operations, and broadcast stations function as learning laboratories, places where students learn leadership and team building skills and competencies essential to a wide variety of careers. Many of us believe the availability of these resources on campuses should continue to play a role in students’ education. For example, in 2015, the journal Interactions: Studies in Communication and Culture devoted an entire issue to college radio, claiming in an editorial that “Making radio can make students feel more confident, boost their self-esteem and give them the possibility to speak about their cultures, their social groups and their lives, and can help to provide a local view on global issues” (Scifo, 2015, p. 5).

One reason for this book is a need to explore the role of college media in a student’s education and to bring these findings to those making decisions about these entities. As editors, we also wanted to present this argument to those more directly involved, be they faculty advisors, student life professionals, or the students themselves. It is not until many years after their college media work that many alums realize how important their involvement was to their education. Making this clear to students at the time of their involvement might also be helpful to those advisors struggling to help students see beyond writing their latest news story, producing a video package, or bringing the new release from a hot band to the airwaves. We decided to solicit essays that provide the educational underpinning—not just for traditional broadcast and print media organizations but also for those online—addressing how students learn through voluntary participation in undergraduate media organizations even as these media are changing and evolving.

Anyone associated with professional media knows that many people in these fields got their first experience and often, career orientation, through participation in their college radio station, television operation, newspaper, or news bureau. What is it about these undergraduate experiences that have the power to generate careers? The research, stories, and case studies in this book are designed to explore this educational resource found on college campuses throughout the country.

As a response to the issues mentioned above, the authors contributing to this volume use a multifaceted lens to reveal how people learn through experiences that do not happen in the classroom and are not packaged as “educational.” The current emphasis on formulation, delivery and testing of formal educational experiences has perhaps obscured the fact that learning happens, often most effectively, in other ways and places. Although the focus of this volume may seem obvious and remedial, it gets its enduring relevance from a famous quip made ← 3 | 4 → by Hegel (1977, p. 18) in his Phenomenology of the Spirit: “Quite generally, the familiar, just because it is familiar, is not cognitively understood.” So it often is with the notion of learning through experiences when not pre-identified as “education.”

This volume is divided into four sections: Theory; Description and Narrative; Case Studies; and Contextual Issues. These sections provide foundational understandings, first-person accounts, discussions of particular media organizations, and, finally, issues of concern that affect how students learn through their experiences in media organizations. Following are brief descriptions of these sections and the essays in each.


The volume begins with a foundational essay on learning through experience based on the work of the American philosopher and educator John Dewey. Although Dewey’s work is familiar to generations of educational theorists, his particular emphasis on a fuller understanding of how people have experiences in particular situations and contexts, such as the ones discussed in this book, is enduring and important. The author, Allan DiBiase, elaborates on Dewey’s work by using a pluralistic and diverse theoretical model of “what experience is” to highlight the unique and situational aspects that make up learning experiences. It is with this holistic model in mind that the learning experiences examined in this book can best be understood.

Melony Schemberger’s essay, “College Media as an ‘Extracurricular Activity’: Historical and Theoretical Perspectives” illustrates how theorists like Alexander Astin and others, building on the generative work of Dewey, have theorized the learning opportunities in extracurricular involvement at the undergraduate level of study. This essay makes specific both the rationales and benefits of college learning experiences gained outside the classroom.

Opportunities to practice and learn leadership skills while participating in college media organizations are understudied and often unrecognized except anecdotally. “College Media and Leadership Training: Conceptualizing Student Leadership” by Laura K. Dorsey-Elson theorizes and demonstrates how this highly valued form of learning is made available through participation in college media organizations.


The three essays in this section reflect the significance of ethnography as a means of capturing the fullness of human experience. This is achieved in a variety of ← 4 | 5 → ways including the authors’ personal narratives and their interviews with student participants about their experiences. The essays provide detailed accounts that expand and supplement what is often conveyed in anecdotal shorthand regarding the value of college media learning experiences. These essays provide views that are inclusive and qualitative about the processes of learning through and in experience.

The first essay in this section, by Len O’Kelly, opens with a direct personal statement reflecting an observation made in this Introduction about how individuals get their career starts in college media organizations. The essay, “Why College Radio,” begins in O’Kelly’s own experience and career but the focus is rapidly widened—applicable to other forms of media—by interviews with alumni and current students that emphasize particular skills and competencies gained through their involvement in college media organizations.

Leo Fahey’s essay provides a richly detailed personal account of his experiences in “early college radio.” The essay then examines, over time, through use of the work of Irving Goffman, aspects of learning that are rarely discussed in the literature. In this way the essay delivers on critical elements of the model presented in the opening essay in this volume: The emotional, psychological and sociological factors that affect how and what students learn.

Leigh Landini Wright’s “Lessons Learned: How College Newsrooms Prepare Students for the Professional Newsroom and Beyond” is the first of two essays (see Chapter 15) that examine in part the “hospital teaching model” of journalism education; finding that “learn by doing” is a common focus in the model and in traditional views of how students learn in media organizations. Through extensive interviews with alumni Landini highlights the fundamental skills and competencies learned through college media involvement and their broad applicability to careers other than communications and media.


The five essays in this section offer case studies to the different ways that students learn. In so doing, they reveal the diversity of ways in which media organizations exist and function, as well as the learning opportunities that follow from this involvement.

“Student Newsmakers: A Case Study in Socialization and Professionalization” uses a qualitative interpretive approach to better understand learning in student media organizations by going inside one as an ethnographic observer. Kimberly Meltzer’s descriptions shed light on how, through processes of socialization, students learn skills and dispositions that are considered essential to professional ← 5 | 6 → media careers. This essay provides a rare, detailed in situ look at a college newsroom and the dynamics that affect learning.


VIII, 214
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2019 (April)
College Media College Radio Student Newspaper Experiential Learning Foundations of Education Learning Theory
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2016. VIII, 214 pp.

Biographical notes

Gregory Adamo (Volume editor) Allan DiBiase (Volume editor)

Gregory Adamo (Ph.D., Rutgers University) is Associate Professor in the School of Global Journalism and Communication at Morgan State University. He is the author of African Americans in Television: Behind the Scenes (Peter Lang, 2010). Allan DiBiase (EdD., Rutgers University) is retired. During his career he taught disciplinary philosophy at the City University of New York; philosophy of education at Plymouth State University and philosophy of art and culture in the Doctor of Arts Program at Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire.


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