Missouri School of Journalism welcomes two new faculty members starting in July

Brittany Hilderbrand, Stan Jastrzebski

By Austin Fitzgerald

COLUMBIA, Mo. (July 9, 2024) — The Missouri School of Journalism is welcoming two new faculty members starting this month as assistant professors with key roles in Missouri News Network newsrooms: Brittany Hilderbrand, community news editor for community newspaper the Columbia Missourian; and Stan Jastrzebski, news director for NPR-member station KBIA-FM.

“Brittany and Stan bring a wide range of experience to these roles, which are both about building a strong connection with our community by helping students and staff produce excellent hands-on reporting,” said David Kurpius, dean of the School of Journalism. “I’m excited to see what they accomplish.”

Elevating voices

Brittany Hilderbrand
Brittany Hilderbrand

Hilderbrand brings an array of competencies in strategic communication — ranging from crisis communication and public relations to IT communications for employers like the Missouri Senate, the City of Columbia and the University of Missouri’s internal communications office — and in journalism with statehouse and health reporting experience gained from the Jefferson City News Tribune and the Illinois Times.

As the founder and CEO of Writers Block, which offers assistance with writing, search engine optimization and social media, she is also an entrepreneur.

Her passion, however, lies in a central tenet of community reporting: providing a platform for a spectrum of views and backgrounds that create a faithful reflection of the community.

“I have always had a passion for elevating voices, and in journalism, that’s what we’re doing: bringing issues to the people and heightening their voices,” Hilderbrand said.

She added that her varied experience will help her show students how to report more deeply on stories that might at first seem boring or rote.

“The impactful stories aren’t always going to be the glamorous stories,” she said. “They need someone who is focused and committed to following the data and can connect with sources. I hope I can bring some of those practical skills to the students and help them think at the next level.”

Hilderbrand earned a bachelor’s degree in media communications and sociology from Culver-Stockton College in 2012. She earned master’s degrees in public administration/non-profit management and public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois Springfield in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

Who is Stan?

Stan Jastrzebski
Stan Jastrzebski

Jastrzebski, too, knows something about getting to the next level. His 15-year career in broadcast journalism began as a reporter in Indianapolis and Chicago and led to news director postings at three NPR-member stations: Indiana public radio stations WBAA (Purdue University) and WFIU (Indiana University), as well as running the Florida capital news bureau for WFSU Public Media (Florida State University).

For Jastrzebski, the role feels like a homecoming of sorts. Despite choosing not to enroll at Mizzou as an undergrad (even after six years of wearing a Mizzou sweatshirt throughout middle and high school until it was threadbare), he has long admired the School of Journalism and its news outlets from afar.

“I’ve known for a long time, as have many other people, that KBIA is one of the best local public radio stations,” Jastrzebski said.

In addition, the School’s Missouri Method of hands-on learning, which places students into the Missouri News Network of professional newsrooms to learn by producing real community reporting, offers him the chance to unite teaching and news direction in a way that hasn’t been possible for him previously.

“I had been looking for a position where teaching was sort of baked into it,” Jastrzebski said. “In the past, it was kind of an add-on to the news, but the fact that it was literally expected here was a big draw. I know I’m going to get a great cohort of students to work with, and they’re going to raise my level a little bit as I help them raise theirs.”

Students won’t just be getting an experienced journalist as their instructor: they will also be getting an experienced trivia contestant. Jastrzebski was on “Jeopardy!” in 2017, and in 2018 he won $20,000 on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” demonstrating a voluminous appetite for knowledge that he hopes will inspire his students.

Jastrzebski earned his bachelor’s degree in communication arts and sciences from DePauw University in 2003, his master’s degree in broadcast journalism from Northwestern University in 2004 and will complete his doctorate in mass communication from Syracuse University later this year.

Updated: July 8, 2024