COLUMBIA, Mo. (March 16, 2023) — Two new staff members have joined the Missouri School of Journalism, where they are filling important roles supporting students both in the classroom and in the newsroom.
As business support specialists, Kristen Davis and Ellie Newberry-Wortham help guide students through essential processes related to their education as budding journalists.
“Kristen and Ellie are superb additions to our team of staff at the School of Journalism,” said David Kurpius, dean of the School. “As Mizzou alums who are passionate about helping students succeed, they bring valuable energy and knowledge that young journalists can benefit from.”
Those looking to check out a camera, a tripod or another piece of equipment they need to complete a class assignment can do so through the school’s equipment lab, which is now managed by Davis. Though still new to role, Davis already has her sights set on a few goals, including lowering the fees owed by students who return equipment late.
Newberry-Wortham’s role is also student-focused, as she assists students in and out of the One Newsroom — a space in Lee Hills Hall where students and staff from each of the School’s professional newsrooms work and collaborate — to coordinate travel and manage other logistics critical to both the operation of the newsroom and the success of the School’s Missouri Method approach of learning by doing.
“These are two really important roles for the functioning of both the newsroom and a lot of our core classes,” said Professor Mark Horvit, chair of the School’s Journalism Professions faculty group. “Between the two of them, it’s a lot of heavy lifting.”
The two new arrivals join Kim Townlain, who organizes class registration among other responsibilities, to form a team of three that Horvit hopes will serve as the administrative backbone of the One Newsroom and the School’s foundational journalism courses.
“All three will be backing each other up and cross-training on each other’s responsibilities. The idea is that everything can run really smoothly, and if one person is out for any reason, somebody else can step up.”
The roles mark returns to Mizzou for both Davis and Newberry-Wortham. Davis earned a bachelor’s degree from the School of Journalism in 2018, working in various roles at KOMU-TV — the School’s NBC affiliate TV station — for more than two years during her collegiate career. After more than four years as a news producer, first at Cincinnati’s WLWT and then at KMBC in Kansas City (where she was nominated for an Emmy Award), she felt the pull to return to her alma mater and experience a new side of the industry.
“As a producer for the last four years, I was so focused on getting really good at one thing,” Davis said. “I like the idea that this job is something where I can learn and grow while also giving back and helping the school that helped me. It’s been a nice welcome back.”
A fellow Mizzou alum, Newberry-Wortham graduated in 2017 with a master’s degree in public affairs from the Harry S Truman School of Public Affairs. She worked as an advising assistant for the Civic Leaders Internship Program and as a graduate research assistant during her time at the university, both of which saw her interacting regularly with students. Now, having returned to Mizzou, she has a pleasant sense of déjà vu.
“Coming back to Mizzou brought back those memories of how much I enjoyed [working with students], so in this role, when I learned I get to work with students, I was very excited,” Newberry-Wortham said. “That was definitely a big draw for me.”
Horvit said Davis’ and Newberry-Wortham’s embrace of the student-centered dimension of their roles is key.
“They do things that a staff person in any other professional newsroom doesn’t do,” Horvit said. “There is an extra layer of important work, because our staff have to show students the ropes, help them figure out how systems work, help them figure out how to do their expenses and timecards if they’re not working for a class. They help students figure out the lay of land.”
Above all, this aspect of their jobs illustrates that the School of Journalism’s famed Missouri Method does not apply only to the faculty-student dynamic. Staff, too, play vital roles in preparing students for their academic careers.
“The students in the lab can ask me, ‘why did you go into this’ or why did you leave this,’ and I can tell them honestly and be open about my experience,” Davis said. “Hopefully, that helps them.”
Updated: March 16, 2023