SJMC Days Connect Students with Journalism Professionals

26 11 2014

The School of Journalism and Mass Communications’s annual JMC Days connected Drake students with journalism professionals last week. In classes and events throughout the week, students took the opportunities to meet with professionals and industry veterans to learn how journalism is evolving.

On Monday night, Pulitzer Prize–winning columnist and author Leonard Pitts spoke about his new book, “Freeman.” He discussed his inspiration for the book, exLeonard Pitts_2plained the characters and their relationships, and read part of the book for those in attendance. He also visited a J70 editing class and a J54 reporting class where he answered questions about his writing and editing processes.

Mock interviews were available for students to sit down and practice interviewing skills with journalists in Des Moines. Following the mock interviews, students at in on an internship panel, where experienced JMC students told how they found internships and made the most of their experience.

LinkedIn sessions on Thursday and Friday trained students to use the social media platform to connect with potential employers, sources, and more.

On Thursday, expert journalists gathered to discuss the changes in journalism at “Old News/New News: 220 YearOld News%3aNew Newss of Journalistic Wisdom.” SJMC Dean Kathleen Richardson moderated the discussion, and Rekha Basu (Des Moines Register), Dave Busiek (KCCI), Larry Cotlar (Cumulus Media), Rob Dillard (Iowa Public Radio), and Janette Larkin (Business Publications Corporation) explained how their roles in journalism have changed and the importance of keeping journalism relevant.

Thanks to all of the SJMC faculty and staff for organizing the successful week, and a huge thanks to the professionals who came to share wisdom with Drake journalism students.


Q&A with Alexandra Pichert

24 11 2014

Current Job: Assistant Photo Editor at

Degrees: Magazine Journalism and Graphic Design

Graduated: 2011

 By Michael Lopez

Alexandra Pichert thanks Drake for helping her get to New York. As a senior, she was the graphic designer for the first ever digital edition of Urban Plains magazine. It was released in the fall of 2010, just a few months after Apple released the iPad. She’s done freelance photography and graphic design work for everything from Family Circle magazine to Rolling Stone, and it is her education at Drake that prepared her for every job she’s taken on.

Alexandra PrichertHow did Drake prepare you for your current career?

The course work definitely helps. When I was a senior, I did the capstone project, which really taught me a lot about magazines, the industry, and how it all works. I really learned a lot from the professors.

What does your job entail?

I’m currently an assistant photo editor for I do a lot of photo research and editing. I work with the editors and come up with the best photos to illustrate our stories, and I come up with different story gallery ideas for fashion and beauty sections. I deal with hiring photographers and, during fashion week, coordinating the photographer schedule list.

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Q&A with Matt Meszaros

20 11 2014

Current job: Copywriter for Taco Bell TV with Deutsch LA

Degrees: Advertising

Graduated: 2008

By Emily VanSchmus

Matt Meszaros came to Drake with big ideas about being a psychology major. Then he found a way to combine his interest in the workings of the mind with a love of burritos—advertising. He combines his quirky personality with his writing skills at his job at Deutsch LA, where he writes television commercials for Taco Bell.

Did you come to Drake knowing what you wanted to do?

NMatt Meszarosope. I started off as a psychology major. I like figuring out how people think and what they want, asking why. But all the empirical research that goes with it made me sleepy, so I switched to advertising, which lets me take the how-people-think-and-what-they-want fun part and use it to sell them tacos.

What was the most beneficial thing you did with your time here at Drake?

I sat the bench for the soccer team all four years, which taught me I’m not super important in the grand scheme of things, how to work hard, and the proper etiquette for showering with other men.

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Q&A with Marina Shawd

17 11 2014

Current job: Program Coordinator of Chapter Services for Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity

Degrees: Magazine journalism and English writing

Graduated: 2013

By Greta Gillen

Before graduating in 2013, magazines and graphic design double major Marina Shawd built up an impressive resume. She was a Meredith apprentice during her senior year. She also was very involved in campus publications: In fact, when she served as editor-in-chief of DUH (Drake University Honors) magazine, she championed for the publication to receive university funding, and it has since become a Board of Student Communications-sponsored publication and was rebranded as The Annual. Shawd also held the title of art director of her senior capstone (Man Up magazine), and was a writer and designer for Drake Magazine for several semesters. Shawd shares her experiences from Drake, and how they prepared her for her professional career.


What does your current job involve?

Currently, I work in Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity Headquarters in the Chapter Services department. I actually use both my design and communications degrees. I work with all of the college chapters, more specifically in establishing new college chapters on existing college campuses. This fall, I’ve been working with two chapters, one at the University of Louisville, and one at Colorado State. What I do is work with some of our consultants who are there for the entire year, and I help them create a PR campaign and figure out ways to distribute that type of information on campus. I design all of those materials that they use, and then I’m also in constant communication with alumni in the area who want to serve as advisers or volunteers helping with the establishment process.

How were you involved in the SJMC?

When I first started, my freshman and sophomore years, I was involved in Drake Magazine. I wrote, I did design. Then the summer between my junior and senior year, I earned the position of editor-in-chief for what used to be called DUH magazine. I was tasked with making it an official student organization and getting funding for it. So that was a big project my senior year.

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Join Professionals, Alumni, Faculty and Students at Annual JMC Days

4 11 2014

Mark your calendars: The 2014 JMC Days will be Monday, November 10 through Saturday, November 15. The celebrations kicks off with a public lecture from Pulitzer Prize winner Leonard Pitts and concludes with a reception at the Des Moines Social Club.

See below for details on all of this year’s JCM Days events:

Monday, Nov. 10:
Listen to a public lecture from Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and author Leonard Pitts Jr. (7:30 p.m., Sheslow Auditorium)
Pitts will also meet with editing and reporting classes that morning. (10 a.m., Meredith 104)

Tuesday, Nov. 11:
Put your pitching skills to the test with PRSSA’s is hosting an interactive media pitching workshop. (8 p.m. in Meredith 237)

Wednesday, Nov. 12:
Complete a mock interview and network with other journos and media professionals. (3–6 p.m., Meredith 104)
Hear from SPJ members about their internships and get tips on how to land your dream internship. (5 p.m., Meredith 106)

Thursday, Nov. 13:
Find out how LinkedIn can be a valuable tool for finding a job, finding story ideas, or finding an audience for your writing. (1 p.m., Meredith 101)
Hear from veteran journalists in the “OldNews/New News: 220 Years of Journalistic Wisdom” panel. (7 p.m., Cowles Reading Room)

Friday, Nov. 14:
Find out how LinkedIn can be a valuable tool for finding a job, finding story ideas, or finding an audience for your writing. (11 a.m., Meredith 104)

Saturday, Nov. 15:
Celebrate the SJMC’s successes with faculty, staff, students and alumni with complimentary appetizers and a cash bar. (4–7 p.m., Des Moines Social Club, Viaduct Gallery)

Drake Students Impress at National Awards

3 11 2014









Drake students picked up national awards this weekend, including the Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker award for Urban Plains, at the National College Media Convention in Philadelphia.

First Place Winners were:

  • Urban Plains for the Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker award. The team is made up of nine students, and all four of the mini issues are available as free apps for iPad.
  • Drake Magazine for best website in the College Media Association’s Pinnacle Awards.
  • Meagan Flynn for feature writing for her story “Fading Legacy: The Dwindling of America’s Small Towns.”

Read on for a full story and list of winners.

Q&A with Shannon Tharp

2 10 2014

Current employer: University of Wyoming

Degrees: Magazine journalism and English writing


Graduated: 2005

By Meagan Flynn

Whether it’s between the shelves or on them, Shannon Tharp can be found in the library. The Drake grad has two books of poetry on shelves—The Cost of Walking (2011) and Vertigo in Spring (2013). And after earning her MFA in creative writing and a graduate degree in library science from the University of Washington, Tharp started as an assistant librarian at the University of Wyoming. While at Drake, she worked as an editor for Drake Magazine and Periphery. Though she didn’t choose the journalism path, everything she learned in the J-school is still a large part of her career nonetheless.

ShannonTharpWhy did you want to pursue poetry?

I studied it at Drake, and I continued with it afterward. It’s always going to be a part of me. I like some of the independence it grants me, or the solitary time it grants me. It’s something I ultimately have to work on alone, and I like having that time to myself. I’ve always read poetry since I was a little girl. I took a class at Drake that made me start [taking it more seriously]. It’s not going to make a person money, but it’s a life practice.

How does librarianship tie into your work as a poet?

With special collections in an academic library, you work with a lot of rare, old material. I’m lucky I get to work with old books of poems. I think a lot of research and history goes into any writer’s job. So going through those acts and helping other people go through those acts ties everything together for me.
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