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Department of Mass Communication and Communication Studies

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Public speaking students give leadership speeches

Posted on October 15, 2015

In early October, students from Carol Norton's Advanced Public Speaking classes met in Freedom Square to share "What the World Needs Now." Students were asked the question, "What is leadership to you?" To develop their speech, one of which is shown here, they found a quote from a leader who summarized the student's approach to leadership. Their goal was to motivate their audience to embrace (or "fit themselves") into this vision of leadership. The objective was to show how together they may civically lead the world (country, city, community) to a better place.

Department welcomes new tenure-track faculty members

Posted on September 15, 2015

The Department of Mass Communication & Communication Studies has four new tenure-track faculty members this fall. They have wide-ranging academic backgrounds and interests, which you can read about below:

Michaela Frischherz, Ph.D.

Dr. Michaela Frischherz earned her Ph.D. in Communication Studies from the University of Iowa in May of 2015. She also holds a M.A. in Cultural Analysis from the Universiteit van Amsterdam and a B.A. in Diplomacy & Foreign Affairs from Miami University, Ohio. Michaela specializes in rhetorical theory and criticism with an emphasis on feminist and queer theory. Her research focuses on the meaning-making practices forged by women communicating pleasure and sex in various public spheres. Her latest article, published in Women's Studies in Communication, explores the affect(s) of shame that both enable and constrain women's claims to agency over their bodies. Michaela teaches courses in rhetorical theory, advocacy, and gender. When she's not studying the communicative dimensions of sex, Michaela enjoys all things popular culture and can be found jumping around the blogosphere or having a glass of wine watching "terrible" television.

Elia Powers, Ph.D.

Dr. Elia Powers graduated with a Ph.D. in journalism studies in May 2014 from the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism, where he was named the top graduate student in 2013-2014. He earned a master's degree in American Culture Studies from Washington University in St. Louis and a bachelor's degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. His main research interests are audience engagement with digital media; news, media and health literacy pedagogy and assessment; and nonprofit journalism and new business models. His research has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as the Newspaper Research Journal, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media and the Journal of Media Business Studies. He has taught courses such as news writing, multimedia reporting capstone, journalism history, journalism ethics, mass communication research and media literacy. As a journalist for more than a decade, he has covered media, higher education, health, business, sports, the environment and the arts for publications such as The Los Angeles Times and Inside Higher Ed. A native of Seattle, he enjoys visiting his family in the Pacific Northwest, as well as playing tennis, basketball, guitar and just about anything with his 1-year-old son.

Desireé D. Rowe, Ph.D.

Dr. Desireé D. Rowe received her interdisciplinary Ph.D. in 2009 from the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication at Arizona State University. She also earned her M.A. from Minnesota State, Mankato and B.A. in English from Seton Hall University. Her work lives at the intersections of queer performance ethnography, feminist rhetorical perspectives on popular culture, and digital discourses. Her research agenda currently focuses on radical negativity and failure (among other darker aspects of human subjectivity) to reimagine alternative constructions of possibility. Her work includes
articles in Women and Language, Text and Performance Quarterly, Cultural Studies -Critical Methodologies, Rethinking History: A Journal of Theory and Practice, Qualitative Inquiry, many book chapters, and a solo autoethnographic performance that she is touring. She was recently awarded the Best Book Chapter of 2015 by the National Communication Association’s Ethnography Division. In her spare time, she likes to watch crappy reality television and period dramas and build cardboard rocket ships with her daughter.

Hyang-Sook Kim, Ph.D.

Dr. Kim received her Ph.D. in mass communication from the Pennsylvania State University in 2012 after her second master’s degree in mass communication from Kansas State University in 2007. Dr. Kim also earned her bachelor’s degree and another master’s degree at Sogang University in Seoul, South Korea, in 2000 and 2002 with an emphasis in film and drama studies. Dr. Kim’s research background is in health communication, media effects, and strategic communication. Among many different projects, her current work focuses on the effects of new media technology on online users’ perceptions, particularly as they inform individuals’ tendency to share social support online. Dr. Kim also investigates interpersonal/extrinsic social influences on health/risk behaviors, including topics of women’s weight management, health stigma reduction, texting while driving and other health-related concerns, with psychological approaches. Dr. Kim’s research can be found in major academic journals, including Computers in Human Behavior, Health Communication, Communication Research, American Journal of Health Education and International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction in addition to referred conference proceedings and edited books. She teaches courses in public relations and strategic communication at Towson. In her spare times, Dr. Kim enjoys watching thriller movies or crime dramas. Visit her website ( to discover more about her teaching and research.

Professor edits book on writings of Helen Keller

Posted on August 23, 2015

Hellen Keller book by Dr. Beth HallerDr. Beth Haller, a professor of journalism and new media, is out with a new book on the writings of Helen Keller. "Byline of Hope: Collected Newspaper and Magazine Writing of Helen Keller (Avocado Press)," is edited by Haller, a media and disability scholar and author of the 2010 book "Representing Disability in an Ableist World: Essays on Mass Media."

Keller was an author, a socialist, the star of an early silent film, a vaudevillian, a suffragist, an international advocate and fundraiser for blind people, and even a co-founder of the ACLU. But no book has collected or examined her writings for newspapers and magazines until now.

"Byline of Hope" includes Keller's articles that appeared in news outlets such as Good Housekeeping, Ladies' Home Journal and The New York Times, as well a little-known monthly magazine column that carried her byline for five years in the early 1930s. In an interview, Keller biographer Dorothy Herrmann said of Keller's five-year stint as a magazine columnist: “This is probably Helen Keller who Helen Keller was. It was Helen Keller unadorned by helpers.”

The book organizes Keller's magazine and newspaper articles around themes, such as her sensory experiences, her socialism, and her advocacy of women’s issues and moral character. It gives voice to her ideas about how to make the world a better place and how to create a more equitable and peaceful America.

Haller says of Keller:

"Helen Keller writes eloquently about many progressive issue such as promoting peace, equal rights for women, protecting children, educating blind people, valuing nature, as well as how she interacted with the world and the value of touch and smell, which so many people ignore. After reading all these writings, I believe she was one of the great progressive writers of the mid-20th century. The way she wrote about topics touched on concepts we take for granted today, such as neurodiversity and acknowledging class privilege. It is my hope that readers of the book can get past her icon status and embrace her as a writer and thinker."

"Byline of Hope" is available for $19.95 (softcover book from or as an e-book for $9.95 from Amazon.

Top students honored at annual banquet

Posted on May 5, 2015

They are almost ready to graduate. But first, Towson's top MCCS students were honored by faculty and administrators at an annual end-of-year banquet. Students and their families filled a ballroom inside the West Village Commons for the April 30 event "Celebrating Excellence: Spotlight on MCCS Outstanding Seniors." To participate in the event, students had to be nominated by a faculty member and have a high GPA.

The outstanding seniors honored were: Alexis Adelsberger, Payam Agha-Ghassem, Alexia Borga, Hannah Braun, Kristen Coffey, Megan Cronhardt, Aiyana Dancy, Kathryn Day, Steven DeMinds, Cheyenne Dermody, Neshia Downs, Danielle Duffy, Danielle Feldman, Alexiana Gaither, Nicole Giannini, Benjamin Giuliana, Nina Glose, Daryl Hale, Shamal Halmat, Matthew Hamilton, Olivia Holland, Samuel Klecka, Jordan Klumpp, Natalie Kochesfahani, Sarah Landis, Erica Magnotto
Iczel Manzano-Castillo, Kira McCall, Joseph McIlvain, Kevin McNamara, Paige Medcalf, Danielle Moore, Jonathan Munshaw, Rebecca Nappi, Onyinyechuku Nwokorie, Benjamin Pearce, Tiana Pluck, David Pons, David Raymond, Andrea Rizkallah, Laney Rosdail, Elizabeth Royer, Liza Saffos, Ricardo Sanchez, Lucas Shipley, Natalie Sibiski, Kevin Stark, Paul Steinbacher, Griffin Taube, Colin Tobin, and Paige Whipple.

MCCS scholarwhip winners included: Alexis Adelsberger, Allison Bazzle, Amanda Cipriano, Kristen Coffey, Lee Conderacci, Emily Cunningham, Bridgette Flora, Sherline Hawkins, Erica Magnotto, Kristen Maloney, Meghan McClung, Jonathan Munshaw, Tiana Pluck, Alexia Simmons,  Lauren Stone, Morgan Stritzinger, Matthew Teitelbaum, and Rachel Ungvarsky.

Students get pointers on networking at annual TU conference

Posted on April 20, 2015

On April 17, 2015, the Conference and Meeting Management class (COMM 422) held its annual conference. This year's topic: information for MCCS students about getting involved on campus, networking successfully and better utilizing LinkedIn. Planning the conference is part of the COMM 422 curriculum, giving the students practical experience in event planning.

#TUJDAY15 shines spotlight on sports media, photography and TU alums

Posted on March 5, 2015 

Sports panel AmanteAn afternoon panel discussion on hot-button sports media issues and an evening event featuring a prominent photojournalist bookended Towson University's Journalism Day, known as #TUjday15.

An overflow crowd packed into Van Bokkelen Hall's largest room to listen to TU alums Greg Amante (a producer for ESPN's Outside the Lines) and Ryan Sharrow (managing editor of the Baltimore Business Journal), and TU assistant professor Tyler Sigmon engage in a wide-ranging conversation about sports media. Amante discussed his strategy for doing investigative journalism, ESPN's relationship with the sports leagues it both covers and does business with, and tips on how to enter the competitive sports journalism field. Sharrow spoke about his publication's relationship with local sports organizations, and also shared advice about cultivating sources and earning reader trust. Sigmon added perspective about how news consumers have the power to "vote with their feet" by turning on channels or clicking on sites that they support. Smith

In the evening, 2009 Towson graduate Patrick Smith told the story of how he went from Towerlight photo editor to award-winning Getty Images staff photographer. Smith shared his memories and imparted photography tips as a slideshow of his portfolio played in the background. He credited his time at the student newspaper and his journalism professors with sparking his career as a photographer.

Check out a full rundown of the conversation around #TUjday15 on Twitter, including several Storify summaries of the day's events.

#TUJDAY15 is March 4

Posted on Feb. 24, 2015

Towson University's Journalism Day, known as #TUjday15, takes place Wed., March 4 with two events that are free and open to the public. The day begins with the panel "Sports is Their Beat and Business: Ethics in the Modern Media Landscape" at 12:30 p.m. in Van Bokkelen Hall, Room 204. Panelists include:

  • Greg Amante, Producer, ESPN Outside the Lines
  • Jayne Miller, I-Team Lead Investigative Reporter, WBAL-TV
  • Ryan Sharrow, Managing Editor, Baltimore Business Journal
  • Tyler Sigmon, Clinical Assistant Professor, Towson University

The panel is being moderated by Megan Gilbert, a lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication and Communication Studies.

#TUjday15 concludes with a keynote address from Patrick Smith, an award-winning photojournalist and alumnus (class of 2009) of Towson University. Smith has won Sports Photographer of the Year, among other accolades. His speech begins at 6:30 p.m. in West Village Commons, Ballroom 4.

New textbook takes on "Editing for the Digital Age"

Posted on Jan. 24, 2015

Lieb photoDr. Thom Lieb, a professor of journalism and new media, is out with his latest textbook. "Editing for the Digital Age" (CQ Press, $60) covers copy editing fundamentals; legal issues such as liability, copyright, and libel; editing ethics; writing headlines that will attract readers; creating multimedia packages; and using social media to curate content and connect with audiences.

The textbook strikes a balance between teaching students timeless copy editing skills such as grammar and usage, and exploring contemporary editing in the digital age through lessons on "Choosing Content that Clicks," "Tips for Online Headlines" and "Using Online Resources to Find and Verify Information." Case studies help writers and editors understand the editing challenges they may face in the newsroom.

Lieb is author of  "All the News: Writing and Reporting for Convergent Media," "Building Basic News Sites" and "Editing for Clear Communication." He teaches News Editing and Digital Publishing at Towson. Lieb is a former writer and editor for newspapers, magazines and online media, and a longtime member of the Online News Association.

Professor awarded Fulbright trip to Australia

Posted Jan. 17, 2015

Haller mugDr. Beth Haller, a professor of journalism and new media and graduate director of the Communication Management master’s program, will travel to Australia in February after being selected for the Fulbright Specialist Program. Haller’s project, “Disability, the Media, and Digital Technology: Issues, Challenges, and Future Research,” dovetails with her research on media portrayal of people with disabilities.

The Fulbright Specialist Program allows U.S. scholars to spend up to six weeks abroad working on their collaborative projects. Haller will be in residence at the University of Sydney for 10 days. She will collaborate with Gerard Goggin, a professor of media and communications who also studies disability portrayals in the media. At the University of Sydney, Haller will be featured and participate in:

  • a one-day symposium on media and rights sponsored by the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • a one-day workshop on best practices in disability and media organized by an NGO
  • a one-day planning workshop with researchers from Universities of Sydney, Canberra, Wollongong, New South Wales, and Curtin to develop a landmark research project on disability in Australia and the United States

While in Sydney, Haller will also meet with key figures in disability policy and organizations, as well as media organizations — many of which are headquartered in Sydney.

During her 10-day residence at Curtin University, Haller will collaborate with disability studies researcher Katie Ellis, a senior research fellow in the School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts. At Curtin University, Haller will be featured and participate in:

  • a one-day symposium on social media, sponsored by the Centre for Culture and Technology
  • a master class offering mentoring for media researchers and teachers, focusing on curriculum development
  • a workshop on best practice approaches and pedagogy for students with disabilities

Haller will also be a guest lecturer at the University of Wollongong. She will speak to journalism classes and attend an event featuring a documentary on a disability topic.

Silent auction raises money for Wainio Scholarship

Posted Nov. 25, 2014

Over 150 people attended a silent auction and reception to benefit for The Honor Elizabeth Wainio '95 Communications Memorial Scholarship. The Oct. 25 event was held at Federal Hill's Ropewalk Tavern and raised over $23,000. The Fall 2013 scholarship winners were Maxwell Cantlupe and Taylor Lutz. They were awarded $5,304.50 each.

Faculty papers published

Posted Nov. 25, 2014

Faculty members who published scholarship during the fall semester include:

Senior interns at USA Today College

Posted Aug. 6, 2014

Senior Jay Greene
MCCS senior Jay Greene

Senior Journalism & New Media student Jay Greene spent the summer interning with USA Today College's Collegiate Correspondence Program.

One of his stories, "The no-stress guide to picking your major," received over 600 online shares. Another story, "What should you be looking for in your dream job?" features students from the Baltimore area and expert advice from Stevenson University staff members.

Greene is a staff writer for The Towerlight, a reporter for WMJF and a contributing writer to the Thriving Tiger Blog. He credits his professors for much of his success.

"Without the strong support of my professors, who are more like friends in my senior year, I would not have made it here on my own," he said.

Greene plans to intern at WBAL-TV 11 in the fall.

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Department of Mass Communication and Communication Studies
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Mailing address: 8000 York Rd., Towson, MD 21252
Phone: 410-704-3431
Fax: 410-704-3656

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