WUSF General Manager JoAnn Urofsky (left to right), Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman cut the ribbon for the WUSF St. Petersburg Studio.

WUSF opens its first St. Petersburg Studio at USFSP

WUSF Public Media, in partnership with USF St. Petersburg, has opened a new broadcast studio at USFSP, providing students a new opportunity to work with award-winning journalists.

A crowd of more than 50 people attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, Jan. 10, including St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, USFSP Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska, WUSF Partners Board members and executives, and local business and community leaders.

The event took place in the Courtyard of the Peter Rudy Wallace Florida Center for Teachers at USF St. Petersburg, home to the Department of Journalism and Media Studies and the new WUSF St. Petersburg Studio.

“Having an award-winning NPR affiliate on our campus is something we should all be proud of. WUSF sets a high standard for journalism in the Tampa Bay area,” said Wisniewska. “It will also be an excellent opportunity for our journalism students, who can gain valuable on-air experience, working closely with seasoned professionals. I particularly look forward to the stories our students produce through the Neighborhood News Bureau in Midtown, an important part of this city where Mayor Kriseman is focusing much needed attention.”

JoAnn Urofsky, general manager of WUSF Public Media, expressed pride in the new partnership with USFSP. “The new studio space will provide us with expanded news presence in both St. Petersburg and Pinellas County,” she said, “as well as an opportunity to work with students in the USF St. Petersburg graduate journalism program.”

The studio has working space for WUSF’s reporters, allowing them to file stories on deadline from a Pinellas County location. In addition, reporters will work with USF St. Petersburg students to research articles, publish stories for WUSF’s Health News Florida website and write for print and radio. WUSF reporters already are working with two USFSP students at the new St. Petersburg Studio.

The mayor congratulated USF St. Petersburg on the opening of the studio. “This is a great addition to an already great institution, and a wonderful opportunity for students as well,’’ he said “I look forward to hearing more news and information from WUSF right here in St. Petersburg.”

Journalism Chair Deni Elliott said the studio is an excellent example of collaboration within the USF System and with the community that directly benefits students. “We are excited about the possibilities this new studio offers for our journalism students and faculty,” she said.

African journalists from the 2010 Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists pose along the USFSP Waterfront.

Visiting African journalists to participate in public forum

USF St. Petersburg and the U.S. State Department’s Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists will sponsor a public forum on African-American and African journalism on Friday, Nov. 1 at 6 p.m. at the University Student Center Ballroom, 200 6th Ave. S.

The forum, which is free and open to the public, will feature a panel discussion involving distinguished African-American journalists from the Tampa Bay area and representatives from a visiting delegation of noted African journalists.

The panelists will discuss their experiences and challenges practicing journalism in their respective settings. The forum is free and open to the public.

The Tampa Bay journalists participating in the panel discussion will be Dalia Colon, WUSF multi-media reporter/producer; Eric Deggans, National Public Radio TV critic; Boyzell Hosey, Tampa Bay Times Director of Photography/Multi-media; Ivan Penn, Tampa Bay Times business writer; and Erica Riggins, Bay News 9 morning anchor.

The panel discussion is part of a program hosted by the USF St. Petersburg Department of Journalism and Media Studies for 12 African journalists Oct. 31 to Nov. 6. The Edward R. Murrow program brings emerging journalism leaders from around the world to study journalistic practices in the the United States in a public-private partnership involving the Department of State, the Aspen Institute and several prominent schools of journalism throughout the nation.

After initial sessions in Washington, DC, the participants attend academic seminars and field activities with faculty and students at various schools of journalism.

“The opportunity to host these distinguished journalists from Africa is evidence of the international impact of our program in journalism and media studies,’’ said Vivian Fueyo, interim Regional Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.

Deni Elliott, Eleanor Poyner Jamison Chair in Media Ethics and Press Policy and chair of the Department of Journalism and Media Studies, said the opportunity to exchange ideas is what makes the Murrow Program so exciting. “We can learn a great deal from each other about how journalism is evolving globally in the digital age,’’ she said.

Robert W. Dardenne, Ph.D.

USF St. Petersburg mourns the passing of Journalism Professor Robert Dardenne

USF St. Petersburg Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska today issued the following statement regarding the passing of Associate Professor of Journalism Robert W. Dardenne:

To the USF St. Petersburg Community:

I am saddened to announce the sudden passing of Associate Professor of Journalism Robert W. Dardenne, Ph.D. who died unexpectedly at home today.

An experienced journalist and dedicated teacher, Dr. Dardenne was beloved by his students and colleagues and admired by all who knew him during his 22 years at USF St. Petersburg.

I regret not having the opportunity to work with Bob. He was such a leader and the heart and soul of the Journalism and Media Studies Department.

He led the department twice during his tenure here, most recently for four years before returning to the classroom full time last fall. He planned to retire next year.

Deni Elliott, the chair of the department, recalled Bob’s wisdom and commitment to his students. “His door was always open and he would never let a student’s call go unanswered,” she said. “He provided a great model of leadership for me to be chair, but he made it look way too easy.”

A native of Baton Rouge, La., Dr. Dardenne joined USF St. Petersburg in 1991 after seven years at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He earned a B.A. in journalism from Louisiana State University, an M.A. in journalism from the University of Florida and a Ph.D. in mass communications from the University of Iowa. Before his academic career, Dr. Dardenne worked for newspapers in Louisiana and New York.

Dr. Dardenne started the USFSP chapter of Kappa Tau Alpha, the journalism honor society, and presided over the first induction ceremony last year.

G. Michael Killenberg, the founding director of the USFSP Journalism and Media Studies Department, hired Dr. Dardenne. He believed strongly in the importance of community-based journalism, he said, and they were co-authors of a book on the subject, The Conversation of Journalism. “I really liked his approach of people-first journalism,’’ Killenberg said. “He believed you find the news in the streets, not from the government.”

Friends and family will gather to celebrate the life of Dr. Dardenne on Wednesday at 3 p.m. in the courtyard of the Peter Rudy Wallace Center for Teachers, where the journalism department is located. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Robert Dardenne Memorial Fund, University of South Florida St. Petersburg, 140 7th Ave. S, WMS 200, St Petersburg, FL 33701.

Our thoughts are with his wife, Barbara O’Reilley, and son, Rob, a spring 2013 history graduate of USF St. Petersburg.

Bob will be missed by all who knew him.

Sophia Wisniewska, Ph.D.
Regional Chancellor
USF St. Petersburg

Here I am manning the front desk in the Journalism and Media Studies department

Journalism and Media Studies M.A. Program: Reflecting on my First Year as a Graduate Student

As I near the end of my first year of graduate school at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg in the M.A. Journalism and Media Studies program, I’m taking the time (in between final projects and research papers of course) to reflect on a year of growth and education in the USFSP Journalism and Media Studies program.

Before I began my application process for grad school I asked myself a few questions:


  • What kind of program am I looking for?
  • How many years do I want to spend pursuing a M.A.?
  • Where do I desire to live during/post graduate school?
  • How much money am I willing to  invest in a Masters degree?

These questions were completely different than the questions I asked myself as an eighteen year old high school senior preparing for my first year of college. The stakes are higher and the dreams are bigger, graduate school is the real deal and making sure that you know what you want in your personal and professional life is paramount.

After doing extensive research I was able to narrow down my choices to three schools and USFSP was a perfect match. I have enjoyed my experience at USFSP and the Journalism and Media Studies program has been everything I hoped it would be.

What are the specifics of the Journalism and Media Studies Program?

The M.A. in Journalism and Media Studies program provides career preparation in journalism while providing a foundation for those students who elect to continue their studies on the Ph.D. level, or plan to use the M.A. as a qualification to teach at the college level. Students are allowed to take classes part time or full time, the program also lets students sample the program by taking up to 12 hours of graduate credit as a non-degree-seeking student before being formally admitted. The full program is offered on the St. Petersburg campus, although students may choose electives at any USF campus with permission of their faculty adviser.

The Journalism and Media Studies Department offers two Master of Arts degrees: the traditional program in Journalism and Media Studies and the fully on-line Master of Arts in Digital Journalism and Design.

USFSP sign in front of Nelson Poynter Memorial Library

USFSP sign in front of Nelson Poynter Memorial Library

I’m enrolled in the traditional program which prepares students for careers in print, electronic and digital media or for college-level teaching. The traditional program has allowed me the flexibility to take online and face-to-face classes. The program normally takes two years to complete with a requirement of 36 hours. There are also several opportunities to work in the community, the Neighborhood News Bureau is a working newsroom that provides Journalism training for undergrad and graduate students.

Students also have the opportunity to study and work at the Poynter Institute. The Poynter Institute is a school for journalists, future journalists, and teachers of journalism dedicated to teaching and inspiring journalists and media leaders. It is across the street from the USF St. Petersburg’s campus.

The Digital Journalism and Design program (DJD) is a fairly new addition. The program was launched in the Fall of 2012, and is a 30-credit program that is typically completed in a year and a half.

Working as a Graduate Assistant

Although a rewarding experience grad school is tough to say the least, the rigors of coursework, and trying to maintain a healthy social life can be a daunting task. Most graduate students work in addition to maintaining a half or full-time course-load, and depending on a graduate students course load and time constraints, the schedule can be grueling. I have had the pleasure of working for the Journalism department as a graduate/teaching assistant.  As a graduate assistant I work 10 hours per week as an assistant to one of the faculty members in the department and as a friendly face for visitors and students who come into the office on a daily basis.

The experience’s that I’ve had in this program thus far have been amazing and I can’t wait to see what else is in store as I prepare to take on another year as a graduate student at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

An education through experience

While finishing up with my internship at University Advancement on campus and working for The Crow’s Nest, I think I have learned more in one semester than I did the previous two years combined.

My first two years of college were filled with prerequisites and general education requirements. There weren’t many classes that actually held my interest for the entirety of a semester.

This year I finally started getting into classes pertaining to my major: mass communications and journalism. Yes, I learned AP style and interviewing and reporting skills in previous classes, but I actually got to put the things I learned into action.

Neighborhood News Bureau (NNB), a class required for a degree in mass communications, is a working newsroom set in the heart of Midtown in south St. Petersburg. In this class I learned what it takes to go out into a community and speak to strangers in order to get stories.

Stories from NNB are published on the bureau’s online magazine and sometimes sent to local publications like The Gabber in Gulfport or St. Pete Patch. I was fortunate to be one of those published outside the campus system while in this class.

In news editing, students learn everything there is to know about AP style and how to recognize mistakes in journalistic writing. In this class, I also got the chance to meet some famous people in the journalism world from the Poynter Institute and the Tampa Bay Times.

While working for The Crow’s Nest, I learned what it is like to run a newsroom. I learned the processes of story and photo selection, editing, and as the creative director I learned the layout process and basic design concepts.

A semester internship at University Advancement (formerly the Division of External Affairs) taught me public relations communication and networking. I learned about updating the USFSP website and keeping track of the social media outlets on campus.

During the course of the spring semester I wrote press releases, blogs and stories, and took and edited photos while creating connections with important people on campus.

I now have a body of published work.

An education from a classroom is essential, but I think it’s important to complement those skills in a setting that is outside the walls of a classroom. In journalism, like other majors, it’s essential to network and to get in contact with the right people. Putting a degree on a resume looks great, but experience and letters of recommendation are even better.