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Scripps Day professionals encourage students to innovate, refine basic skills

Oct 3, 2012

Scripps Day innovation panelists Alyssa Roll, Chip Mahaney and Jessica Rappaport look to Michelle Ferrier as she makes a point during the Scripps Day panel on Tuesday, Oct. 2. Photo by Megan Westervelt

Scripps Day professionals encourage students to innovate, refine basic skills

By Stephanie Gort and Erin Roberts

ATHENS, Ohio (Oct. 3, 2012)—Professionals from the Scripps Howard Foundation and The E.W. Scripps Company stressed the importance of innovative thinking and the need for students to brand themselves to stand out from the competition during the seventh annual Scripps Day conducted on the main campus of Ohio University in Athens on Tuesday, Oct. 2.

“Scripps Day is a great chance for us to connect with communication professionals from the Scripps family of organizations,” said Scripps College of Communication Interim Dean Scott Titsworth. “Platform multiplicity and the use of digital and social media are clearly changing the way that narratives are told and content is delivered. The chance to hear how those trends are playing out in the industry is invaluable for our students.”

Nine professionals visited campus to impart knowledge, advise and guide students in every school of the Scripps College of Communication through classroom presentations, résumé reviews and a panel discussion focusing on innovation.

Panelists discussed why innovation is critical in finding ways to serve communities as well as to industry development. Many recognized that while the industry was changing, the changes are not in the basics of journalism but instead in the ways that people seek their news.

“We, as content distributors, have to find where the people are and be innovative enough to produce content where they want to find it,” said Jessica Rappaport, Vice President for Marketing at The E.W. Scripps Company.

While students were encouraged to participate in social media sites on a daily basis, panelists also stressed the need for basic writing and reading skills.

“To become a good writer, you have to become a good reader,” Rappaport said. “Read outside of what you are assigned to read in your studies. Read books and read newspapers. Get to know good writing.”

Several panelists recognized the need for students to brand themselves, either through producing their own content or commenting often and intelligently on various pieces online.

“Publish something daily,” said Chip Mahaney, Senior Director for Local Operations for the E.W. Scripps Company’s new digital division. “Build a record. Make yourself memorable.”

Panelist Michelle Ferrier, an associate professor at Elon University in Elon, N.C. and a Scripps Entrepreneurial Institute attendee, also urged students to take the initiative to seek opportunities for employment upon graduation, saying it now takes much more than just a journalism degree to find a job.

“I think we need to teach students to analyze their skill sets and understand where their weaknesses and strengths are,” Ferrier said. “We need to teach students the art of the hustle in order to get them to go out and find opportunities rather than waiting for opportunities to come to them.”

Ferrier also encouraged students to think about creating positions for themselves after finding and operating in their niche online.  

“Follow smart people,” she said of Twitter, the popular social media site. “Don’t just read things online, but comment! Be engaged in online conversations in your field. Build on your reputation. And brand yourself as an innovator in this space.”

Other highlights of the day included the launch of a new website for the Scripps College; a presentation from Interim Dean Titsworth on sustainable learning models, international programs, and the new communication facility for the College; and the announcement of the Scripps Innovation Challenge, a campus-wide student competition funded, in part, by money earmarked for innovation in the $15 million gift to the College from the Scripps Howard Foundation in 2006. (See related article).

Scripps Day is an annual celebration of the partnership between the Scripps College of Communication and the Scripps Howard Foundation. Nearly 1000 students participated in and benefitted from this year’s Scripps Day events.