Ohio Journalist

Putting it All Together

By Danielle Hale

(December 1, 2015) — Melissa Wells is part of the second graduating senior class to experience a capstone class designed to synthesize and test her education before she graduates from E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. The capstone class is the final course required for all journalism majors.

Wells’ capstone class is part of the strategic communication track, which requires students to focus on building content for a real-life client. Students in the class are working with Chuck Borghese, a 1981 graduate of the school, and his partner Tony Caporale, who are the creators of the cartoon “What Up, Dog?” The students are in teams with the goal of making the logo into a brand and business.

“The point of this class is to help the client build brand awareness for his brand and make this into a business, but it also gives us the chance to develop our skills,” Wells said. “This work is similar to work a lot of us will be doing after college. I feel as though I am truly getting my money’s worth by taking a class structured like this.”

Borghese and Caporale are very busy with full-time jobs, so the capstone class allows students to help them develop their side business.

“We love working with the capstone class. Getting to interact with students about to enter the job market has been quite a treat,” Borghese said. “I came to Professor Craig Davis and Director Bob Stewart with the idea to turn this into an advertising/marketing account for the class.”

As part of the switch from quarters to semesters, academic departments were advised to create classes in the major that also would fulfill the university’s general education Tier III requirement.

“During all of the planning for the switch, we decided to get away from the sequence specific capstones,” Ellen Gerl, associate professor and chair of curriculum committee, said. “We didn’t have sequences any more so it didn’t make any sense, but also it was the broader idea that students from different platforms or interest areas could add something to a final product.”

Making the capstone classes for the two tracks has allowed students to cross over in their interests. For the capstone class that produces Southeast Ohio magazine, the changes have allowed students to broaden their interests.

“Now it can be good for students who have experience with online and want to work on the website or students who are in news and information but are still very interested in public relations and marketing or how social media relate to magazines,” Gerl said.

There are two other frequently offered capstone classes that cover the topics of international journalism and TV news magazine production. In the TV News Magazine Production capstone taught by Associate Professor Mary Rogus, students produce episodes of a television news magazine show called “Focus,” which airs on WOUB-TV.

“Each episode puts a different topic ‘In Focus,’ with three eight-to nine-minute, in-depth stories about an issue in Southeast Ohio. We’ve covered topics including education, health care, women’s issues, prescription drug abuse and crime against teens,” Rogus said.

Another capstone offered and taught by Director Stewart is producing the Ohio Journalist. Producing this publication has not always been a capstone class; last year the class was a magazine editing class. Part of the class required students to hire writers with an actual budget.

This spring, the class was very different because it was a news and information capstone class. The students were responsible for the writing and a designer was hired for layout. “We are focusing on writing and production,” Stewart said.

The finished product from all capstone classes is reviewed and assessed by outside professionals to make sure students are leaving Scripps with the skills necessary to succeed in a job. Students also leave the class with a great piece to add to their portfolios.

“Assessment of the final product by outside media professionals is going into effect right now,” Gerl said. “Someone has volunteered to look over the issue and see if it shows good quality writing and good storytelling.”

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