Cal Poly Journalism Department

Focus Group Meeting

May 27, 2011






Teresa Allen

Ted Andreas

Kathleen Beasley

Paul Bittick

Tracy Campbell

Tony Cipolla

Paul Cousineau

Amanda Dennin

Sandy Duerr

Steve Gale

Richard Gearhart

Linda Halisky

Blair Helsing

Susan Houghton

Patrick Howe

Adam Jarman

Eileen Joseph

John Leach

Patrick Leiva

Harvey Levenson

Neal Losey

Stephanie Murawski

Ellen Pensky

Michael Pershall

Patti Piburn

Kaleigh Teskey

Brady Teufel

Tess Serna

Debra Valencia-Laver


Harvey Levenson called the meeting to order at 8:30.


Introductions were made of all attendees.


Harvey gave an update about the accomplishments made by the department since the last Focus Group meeting in the fall.  When he took over the department, knowing he was not an expert in journalism, he put the work in the hands of those who are—Journalism faculty and staff.  There were some challenges. However, the department was able to work together.


Harvey showed a PowerPoint presentation outlining department’s activities.


NRC – The department is now the official recorder of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) meetings on the Central Coast. Through a partnership with PG&E we received a $38,189 grant used to acquire equipment to do this and to support the academic instructional program.


Labs – The television studio lab needed an upgrade. We reached out to local news agencies and were connected with a company called Grass Valley that donated $122,000 worth of equipment for the studio—including TV cameras, teleprompters, and other devices.


KCPR – Harvey has had several meetings with station leaders. He thanked Neal Losey for moderating the meetings and all the time and work he has put into the station. The studio had been cleaned-up and now looks professional—not like a “pre-teenage boy’s clubhouse.”


Poynter Institute – All three full-time faculty members attended a curriculum seminar at the Poynter Institute in Florida. Rarely are three faculty invited to attend and one of our faculty received a scholarship. Faculty develop is a priority and we will be doing more.


Webinar – Harvey lead a webinar in February and plans to do another in a few months. Kathleen Beasley commented that we might want to have more interaction from Focus Group members. Harvey agreed and will structure the next webinar to be more interactive. Steve Gale suggested that endowments might be a topic of particular importance with this group of alumni and industry leaders, considering the professional contacts that they have.


PG&E Partnership – Michael Pershall described the process of recording the Nuclear Regulatory Commission meetings and how the PGE partnership is providing important support for the department. This year there were three students involved. There was additional discussion among the group with regard to the PGE partnership and potential for more such partnerships involving students in different roles such as PR and multimedia.


Program Review – After the morning break, Harvey explained the Program Review process. Although the Program Review report is with the Vice Provost awaiting approval, he was given the go-ahead to share the preliminary results with the Focus Group. Harvey explained who the team was and went over their findings. The team determined that the department is ready to move forward and recommended that it retain its autonomy. Harvey talked about the next steps for the department—the first being to work together to develop a five-year strategic plan. Dean Halisky commented that the Journalism Department has the second highest graduation rate in the entire university, which is very significant.


Student Media Reports


Mustang Daily General Manager Paul Bittick gave an update on the status of the Mustang Daily. This year, the paper was awarded “Best College Newspaper”, “Top Advertising Manager,” and “Website of the Year” at CNBAM. This fall, the paper will change its format to a “broadsheet.” They will be adding an iPhone app. Future plans are to do a student fee initiative. He thinks it will be successful, considering MD’s 94 percent readership rate.


KCPR General Manager Ted Andreas presented a status update about the radio station. A new website has gone live with better streaming. Neal Losey also made a few comments about the planned recruitment of a journalism student as news director.


CPTV student Leanne Aguilera explained the CPTV experience from a student’s perspective. She showed a short DVD with a sampling from all the broadcasts from this quarter to date. Patti Piburn updated the group about the status of CPTV. In her class Patti requires each student to participate in 10 shows per quarter (one show per week).


Central Coast PRspectives Dan Eller updated the group about the firm. They handled many campaigns this year both on- and off-campus. Some of the campaigns were Poetic Justice, Mobility Therapy, Camp Fire, USA, Fort Hope, College of Science and Math, Kennedy Library, KCPR.  With many billable hours worked by students, but no money collected. (Harvey will work with the group next year to remedy this). Student Kaleigh Teskey commented that she took the writing class and dove right into managing campaigns in JOUR 413


Update on Internships – Tony Cipolla spoke about the status of advising internships for the past two quarters. All students were successful in completing winter internships though a few will be incomplete for spring. Most students did internships with local businesses—some untraditional such as a PR campaign for a local salsa company.


Recruitments – Brady Teufel, search committee chair, reported that the broadcast search should be wrapping up soon. The multimedia recruitment unfortunately failed and will be reopened in September.


(The group toured the Journalism Department facilities, and then broke for lunch).


Professional Development – Teresa Allen spoke about her professional development plans. She is working with the Center for International Media Ethics (CIME) where they have appointed Teresa to their board.  She will be teaching a video seminar via Skype with journalists from Russia. She hopes to have something to submit to AEJMC.  She will be presenting a paper in Europe.


Harvey gave an update on Bill Loving’s (absent) professional development. He has just released the 13th edition of his book with Dwight Teeter entitled, Law of Mass Communications: Freedom and Control of Print and Broadcast Media.


Curriculum – Teresa told the group that faculty had received a mandate from the dean to “jump into” a new curriculum. Faculty has been meeting throughout the year. Adjuncts have also participated. They have concluded that they need to educate students for jobs that do not even exist yet. With regard to concentrations, the proposal is to increase the core curriculum so that all students receive the basic skills they need before they branch off into concentrations. Although it looks like classes have been added, this has not yet occurred. Some classes have been combined. The faculty is still undecided about whether or not to keep concentrations.


Brady described to the group the faculty’s intent to combine all of the student media (called Mustang Media) into a capstone class that will give students the opportunity to work in many different forms of media. There was much talk in the past about “silos” and Mustang Media would be a way to “tear down silos.”


Richard Gearhart shared that he just finished spending the last year working on curriculum for a new major in Ag Communications. He sees curriculum as a challenge, much like a puzzle. He is in favor of adding an Introduction to Journalism class as the department does not currently offer one. The conversations among committee members have been very productive. This two-unit course would be an intro overview of what the degree is about, and serve as an “orientation” class.


Sandra Duerr asked, how soon before the new curriculum will go into effect? Debra Valencia-Laver responded that most changes such as modifying existing courses could go into effect in 2012. Major changes would not be able to be made until 2013.


Dan Eller commented that curriculum meetings have been successful. JOUR 413 would be replaced with a writing course. This change would give students more opportunities to develop writing skills. This would enrich the program.


Student Kaleigh Teskey agreed that there should be more writing. She would also like to know how students would learn computer programs, i.e., a PR student using Final Cut Express. Brady pointed out that Mustang Media would be a capstone class. Students will have already had some instruction with all programs used across media platforms.


Advancement – Eileen Joseph spoke about “Expressive Technologies,” an interdisciplinary project to develop programs and services that provide opportunities for students to study across different areas and disciplines. Industry partners would visit and work with students and faculty. Brady said that he sits on the Expressive Technologies committee and that they are focused on establishing forward-thinking initiatives.


Advisory Board – Harvey explained what an Advisory Board is and the process of appointing board members. Harvey mentioned that an effective board requires a commitment from all members.


Tracy Campbell gave some background on the structure of the previous board. It was originally formed to address an ACEJMC standards. Under former department chair Havandjian, 20 alumni were brought together by invitation of former President Baker. Harvey and Tracy will continue to take steps to move forward in developing a formal advisory board.


The meeting was concluded at 3:45 p.m.