2023: The year in review

2023: Year of the Rabbit

By Austin Fitzgerald

COLUMBIA, Mo. (Jan. 4, 2024) — In the Missouri School of Journalism’s 115th year, students, faculty and staff shone brightly at every stage, creating positive impacts in the classroom, in the newsroom, in the pages of acclaimed research journals and throughout Missouri communities.

“In every way, 2023 saw the School leading the industry forward with the Missouri Method,” said David Kurpius, dean of the School of Journalism. “We are on the front lines, preparing our students with hands-on community reporting and advertising campaigns while our world-class researchers improve the industry our students are entering.”

The year started with a bang with the launch of a Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter, opening up new national opportunities for strategic communication and complementing existing opportunities through the School’s PR Club and professional ad agencies. Read more about the chapter’s first year here.

Of course, that was far from the only highlight for strategic communication students in a year that included a MOJO Ad Sour Patch Kids campaign, a trip to New York City to pitch campaigns to global ad agency VMLY&R, and 40 American Advertising Awards.

Journalism students made their mark as well — in July, Kathy Kiely brought 11 students to Washington, D.C., for a bootcamp on reporting on global issues. That experience helped inspire Kristina Abovyan, the newest David Kaplan Memorial Fellow, to set her sights on the nation’s capital.

Within the state, students dispersed throughout rural Missouri to help community newspapers improve their digital presence as part of the Reynolds Journalism Institute’s (RJI) Potter Digital Ambassadors program. On campus, the Statehouse Reporting Conference brought together 30 journalism faculty from universities around the country to share their experiences with statehouse reporting. And in Sedalia, the 75th Missouri Photo Workshop brought the local community together to see their town’s stories told in pictures.

In every way, 2023 saw the School leading the industry forward with the Missouri Method.

David Kurpius, dean of the Missouri School of Journalism

The Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk’s own brand of community impact continued to expand, adding 11 new partner newsrooms to its network of local environmental coverage and securing an additional $2.47 million in grant funding from the Walton Family Foundation.

A related research project from Kate Rose further underlined the impact of the Ag & Water Desk and the School’s wider research efforts, demonstrating — among many other insights —that university scientists and extension agents are “among the most trusted sources of science and environmental information.”

Indeed, it was a strong year for research at the School of Journalism. Researchers at the Novak Leadership Institute identified ways workplace leadership can nurture a positive, respectful and inclusive workplace culture. RJI worked with research firm SmithGeiger to survey journalists about their experiences with workplace burnout, with conclusions due to be distributed to news organizations in the first quarter of 2024.

Throughout the School, researchers like Luke Capizzo, Amanda Hinnant, Damon Kiesow, Cristina Mislán, Zach Massey, Shelly Rodgers and others conducted studies and earned national grants with the help of Alysia Beaudoin, the School’s grants and contracts administrator. In fact, Massey’s $800,000 grant for research on cannabis warning labels was the largest National Institutes of Health grant ever awarded to a School of Journalism researcher. The School also welcomed new researchers Joy Jenkins, Nick Mathews, Jared Schroeder and Chau Tong.

And under the guidance of Jim Flink, an interdisciplinary team of students performed hands-on research to help usher the country into the next generation of broadcast television.

At the same time, the School sought to honor other contributions to the industry with the Missouri Honor Medal, which this year went to Southwest Airlines Chief Administration and Communications Officer Linda Rutherford and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. The medals were presented, as usual, by Dean Kurpius, but something was different this year: Kurpius himself was the Scripps Howard-AEJMC Administrator of the Year.

That was not all: Keith Greenwood and Kellie Stanfield won university-wide Provost Awards for faculty service and teaching, respectively; Earnest Perry earned both the Mizzou Alumni Association Distinguished Faculty Award and the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching; Amy Simons won the Baskett Mosse Award for Faculty Development; and students at the School’s professional newsrooms and other student organizations earned a host of prestigious honors.

Overall, students from a variety of the School’s news outlets took home 20 Hearst Journalism Awards, while the School of Journalism earned top finishes in four of Hearst’s overall intercollegiate competitions, including a first place finish in the Overall Intercollegiate Broadcast Competition.

Naturally, not every highlight from 2023 could fit on this page. To stay up to date and learn about what is happening at the world’s oldest and finest school of journalism as 2024 kicks into gear, follow the School on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Updated: January 4, 2024

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