All posts by Katie Dudlets

Don’t Miss It: MSU at TCFF

Posted on: June 28, 2017

TCFF 1

Heads up Spartans! The Traverse City Film Festival is happening from July 25-30 and Michigan State has a lot of great things in store. From student films and shorts, to virtual reality and videogames, there’s enough to keep you busy throughout the entire festival.

Spartan Headquarters

Interested in attending? If you’re an MSU student, head over to the Spartan Headquarters at 333 E. State Street in downtown Traverse City to grab your free tickets and Spartan gear. Sparty himself will be there!

Feature Film

Theater2Film’s newest feature film, Stay With Me, will be premiering at the Old Town Playhouse on Wednesday, July 26 at noon. The collaboration between the Department of Theater, Media Sandbox and the College of Music had students write and develop an original play that is now a full-length feature film.

TCFF 3

This years’ plotline follows a struggling midwest farm family as they’re threatened with the loss of their home. The psychological thriller shows their descent into dysfunction and chaos.

Short Films

A collection of five short fiction and documentary films will be shown at Kirkbride at the Commons on Friday, July 28 at 3:00 p.m. Each of the films was written and directed by students from the College of Communication Arts and Sciences and the College of Arts and Letters.

On Friday, July 28 at 9:00 a.m., a program of short films specifically about the Flint water crisis will be shown in the Central High School Auditorium. The program includes shorts by Flint students, MSU faculty and award-winning journalists to explore the ins and outs of the preventable crisis. Expect to see Hard to Swallow by MSU J-School students, faculty and WKAR-TV staff and Here’s to Flint by Kate Levy and the ACLU’s Curt Guyette, the Michigan Press Association’s Journalist of the Year.

The Woz

The Woz is a showcase of virtual reality, videogames and mobile games that take you beyond traditional film to the place where art, technology and interactivity meet, placing you in the middle of the story.

TCFF 2

The Woz will be held in Hotel Indigo at 263 W. Grandview Parkway. The free launch party is on Wednesday, July 26 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. The Woz will then be open from Thursday, July 27- Saturday, July 29 from noon to 8:00 p.m. and again on Sunday, July 30 from noon to 3:00 p.m.

Film School

MSU will also be holding various workshops and panels at NMC Scholars Hall to get an inside look at the industry. Here you’ll learn about turning your cell phone into a professional videography device, the difficulties of receiving funding for film projects and you could even have a say in the next Theater2Film storyline.

Kids Camps

As the official Learning and Innovation Partner for TCFF, Michigan State University is taking the lead to inspire the next generation of media makers. On July 28 and 29, MSU is offering two-day camps for youth ages 12-16, one focused on filmmaking and the other on game design and development.

By Kaitlin Dudlets 

 

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Mobile Journalism: ComArtSci Professor Takes iPhone to the Next Level

Posted on: June 26, 2017

About four years ago, then-reporter Mike Castellucci walked into a news interview with only two pieces of equipment — a microphone and his cell phone.

CastellucciAfter assuring the visibly underwhelmed interviewee that he was indeed the reporter from Channel 8 in Dallas, Castellucci filmed, produced, wrote and edited his first iPhone news segment. His iPhone work would soon gain him worldwide attention and industry recognition, including two Edward R. Murrow awards, an Associated Press award, the TEGNA Innovative Storyteller award and 22 Emmys.

The Digital Landscape

With the prevalence of social media and the ability to instantly record and share news on various platforms, Castellucci, journalism professor of practice, says that today, everyone is a journalist.

“A tragedy happens and you will see it from hundreds of people,” said Castellucci. “Are they using it like I am? Not yet, but maybe that’s coming.”

While everyone can be a journalist, that doesn’t mean that everyone can be a good one. Castellucci has figured out how to use the technology readily available to him in ways that no one else had previously thought possible.

“We can all recognize video from our phones,” said Castellucci. “Why is that? Because it’s always shaky and we’re always behind the camera so the audio isn’t very good. If you just take layers of perception and put the phone on a tripod, put a nice microphone on it, write a good story and shoot it like you would be shooting a documentary or a news program... All of a sudden those layers of perception add up.”

Castellucci Camera

Castellucci has mastered keeping his tech accessories to a minimum. Instead of a two-person camera crew, Castellucci creates his stories with a lighter load. He uses a BeastGrip smartphone rig and wide angle lens, a microphone and a small tripod that he refers to as his “poor man steady cam,” as it adds weight and steadies the camera, giving the overall video a more professional quality.

A Storytelling Pro

While technology might be continuously evolving, Castellucci says that the one thing that won’t change about the news industry is the importance of storytelling.

“I think the news business got away from storytelling in the ’80s and ’90s,” said Castellucci. “They were too concerned with automobile crashes and murders. But all anybody wants is a story. It could be a hard story, consumer story, feature story or profile, but if it’s not interesting, if you can’t write an engaging story, if it’s not emotional, then it’s just flat.”

Castellucci is putting his storytelling capabilities to the test while working on his third Phoning It In show. This time, the theme is small towns. The finished project will include segments on Golden Harvest in Old Town, Lansing and the Steam Railroading Institute in Owosso (which just won an Emmy) with the idea that every small town has a story. The show will air in all of the Texas markets and on WKAR in the near future.

At ComArtSci’s J-School, Castellucci teaches students about iPhone broadcast reporting, writing, interviewing and hosting. Ultimately, he hopes that his students will see their cell phones as more than just a social media gadget.

“I just hope they come away with a better knowledge of how to view it as a broadcast instrument and not just the thing that’s constantly in their pocket,” said Castellucci. “I want them to be able to tell stories with it.”

By Kaitlin Dudlets

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Advertising Grad Wins a National Silver ADDY

Posted on: June 20, 2017

Recent advertising graduate Savannah Benavides ’17 reeled in a National Silver ADDY after hooking the judges with her witty 3-ad campaign for Ugly Stik, a company specializing in fishing tackle. The campaign had previously won a Gold ADDY at the local level and a Silver ADDY at districts, propelling her work to the national stage.

“I was really surprised, but mostly I was excited,” said Benavides. “It felt awesome to receive recognition for some of my work, but I was even more excited to work harder in order to create more for my portfolio. Winning awards is really nice, but it’s so important to learn as much as you can in the process.”

Benavides 1

Fishing for Ideas

Benavides’ winning campaign was produced as an assignment for an introductory copywriting class she took her junior year under the direction of Lou Schiavone. For this particular assignment, students were to create advertisements for a brand of their choice. Benavides decided on Ugly Stik because of the challenge it would present her, and went to work on a list of ideas.

“My creative process is, in a word, exhaustive,” said Benavides. “I do my best to get out all of my ideas on paper as quickly as I can. My best ideas come when I’m rapid-firing them onto a piece of paper or into a blank document.”

Benavides 2

Benavides decided to poke fun at the fisherman stereotype and produce a humorous campaign that would resonate with the target consumer audience. As the idea was further developed into three advertisements, Benavides gained constructive feedback whenever possible.

“Each step of the way, I had amazing peers and mentors giving me feedback, including criticism,” said Benavides. “It’s been so helpful to receive the insight and opinion of others, because it helps build me into a better creative.”

Enjoying the Ride

Benavides admits that she wishes she would have known the importance of finding fun in her work earlier on. In fact, her best work came when she stopped stressing and started producing because she wanted to.

Benavides 3

“Of course, getting an education at Michigan State is something to be taken seriously, but it was so important for me to find the time and energy to fall in love with my work and the creative process,” said Benavides. “I really think the most vital part of the creative process is to be in love with it and to enjoy every minute of it.”

Benavides advises other students to pursue their passions and take pleasure in the process.

“Find a way to feel comfortable having fun and enjoying the field that you chose to pursue,” said Benavides. “But if you don’t enjoy the field that you’re in, change it. Life is short.”

By Kaitlin Dudlets

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Advertising Grads Win a National Gold ADDY

Posted on: June 15, 2017

“When work needs doing, leave it to the ladies. And keep a cold one waiting.”Flyer

These are the words, accompanied with expertly designed graphics, that earned Lauren Cutler ‘16 and Matt Richter ‘16 a National Gold ADDY. During an intensive advertising portfolio workshop, the then-students were given a creative brief to invent a micro-brewing company that is by women, for women: Lumberjane Brewing Co. was born.

“Our strategy in this campaign was to address the archaic “just for men” culture surrounding beer, so we created a microbrewery brand specifically for middle-class, hard-working women,” said Cutler, a junior art director at Güd Marketing in Lansing. “We created a campaign that is caught between delicate and rugged, for a semi-feminine beer with a punch of attitude.”

Brewing Success

The campaign has been wildly successful. Lumberjane is the winner of a Gold ADDY for Integrated Campaigns, a Gold ADDY for Packaging and a Judge’s Choice Award at the 2017 Mid-Michigan ADDY Awards Show. Following its success at the regional level, Lumberjane has gone on to win a District 6 Silver ADDY, as well as the National Gold ADDY, which Cutler accepted at the awards show in New Orleans on June 10.

3 Bottles“I have a few other ADDYs, but this one being a national award definitely takes the cake,” said Richter, who is currently interning at 360i in New York City. “ADDYs are great resume builders, and they definitely substantiate your work.”

While Cutler served as Lumberjane’s art director, Richter was the copywriter - though the distinction between their roles was often blurred. Cutler accredits much of the project’s success to the collaborative effort between Richter and herself.

“Concept development is the most important part, and both Matt and I spent a lot of time making sure the goals of the campaign completely lined up with the way we would execute it,” said Cutler. “I think that’s why it’s been so successful.”

The Summer Intensive Workshop

Lumberjane was created entirely in the realm of ADV 455, the Intensive Portfolio Workshop that is only offered during the summer semester. Cutler admits that the workshop is not for the faint-of-heart, as it is held Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m.‒5 p.m.Bottle Logo

“The Intensive Portfolio Workshop is an absolute must for creative advertising students,” said Richter. “It’s the closest you will ever get to working in an agency while still in school. Deadlines are strict, it involves a lot of late nights and you will regularly get scolded, but at the end of it all, you will have some really great work to show off to recruiters.”

While Cutler advises other students to “Have fun, work hard and believe in what you do,” Richter wants advertising students to take advantage of everything the program has to offer.

“Do everything. Take the summer Intensive Portfolio Workshop,” said Richter. “It’s not just a great portfolio builder, it gives you a taste of what work will be like after school. It also leads to the creation of great relationships with people like Henry Brimmer, Ross Chowles and Lou Schiavone. These aren’t normal professors. These are people who will bend over backwards to get you a job, because they believe in you.”

By Kaitlin Dudlets

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ComArtSci Brings Home 5 Emmy Awards

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AND THE AWARD GOES TO....

Well, actually, five awards. ComArtSci faculty and WKAR colleagues brought home five wins from the 2017 Regional Emmy® Awards on Saturday, June 10, at the MotorCity Sound Board Theater in Detroit.

J-School Wins

Two ComArtSci faculty members, Troy Hale, professor of practice in the School of Journalism (J-School) and the Department of Media and Information, and Geri Alumit Zeldes, associate professor in the J-School and director of journalism graduate studies, brought home an Emmy for their project “Run Jump Paddle.” The 27-minute documentary follows the experiences of three extreme athletes, each in their own relentless environment.

“Troy came up with the idea to follow extreme athletes as they become one with the environment,” said Zeldes. “We, the team, brainstormed and found three athletes, exemplary of the concept of taking on animalistic qualities to become one with nature.”

The team also included two students, who have since graduated: Jennifer Berggren ‘14, who served as the films’s director and editor, and William Bridgforth ‘15 as the cinematographer.

The documentary developed from a pitch given to The Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, in response to an open call for projects. The Center agreed to fund the film.

“I think they liked it because it wasn’t the “normal” environmental film,” said Hale. “We tried to make a fun film that had an environmental message, but was entertaining first.”

Castellucci and Zeldes at the Emmy Awards

Castellucci and Zeldes at the Emmy Awards

The J-School’s Mike Castellucci, professor of practice, also brought home a win for his 6-minute video called “Steam Medicine.” The documentary follows Kim Springsdorf, who heads the Steam Railroading Institute in Owosso, MI, and was shot entirely on Castellucci’s iPhone.

This was Castellucci’s first time entering the solo journalist category, though he has won Emmys in five different regions across the country.

“I specifically entered this category for the JRN school to show students that you can shoot a broadcast quality, award-winning story on your phone,” said Castellucci. “I usually want my iPhone work to compete against everybody else in the business who have two-person camera crews and who use broadcast cameras and equipment.”

J-School faculty members have a combined total of nearly 55 Emmy Awards. This is Hale’s 23rd, Zeldes’ third and Castellucci’s 22nd Emmy win. According to Zeldes, these awards hold great significance for the J-School.

“It means they have professors who can compete with professionals in real time,” said Zeldes. “It means that the School of Journalism is a destination for outstanding storytelling.”

WKAR Wins

WKAR brought home three Emmys for their original productions “Curious Crew” and “Evening with the Governor.”

Tim Zeko, executive producer, and Rob Stephenson, host and writer, accepted the Emmy in Children/Youth/Teens - Program/Special for the “Curious Crew” episode “Wheels and Axles.” The award for Interview/Discussion went to the host and producer for “Evening with the Governor,” Tim Skubick.

Michigan State University Athletics Spartan Vision productions won another four awards, bringing the Spartan total to nine Emmys. These awards recognize excellence in the television industry, and Michigan State was certainly in the spotlight this year.

By Kaitlin Dudlets 

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M.A. Grad Having an Award-Filled Year

Posted on: June 13, 2017

Scott Eason ’00, who graduated from ComArtSci with a master’s in visual journalism, is having quite the year: a Society of Professional Journalists national award, a Gracie, a Headliner and three Emmy nominations for his work with the consumer investigative journalism team at KPIX 5 CBS.  

“When you find yourself standing Scott Easonon a stage in front of a few hundred of your peers who are applauding your effort and your work, it’s a little life-changing,” said Eason. “More accurately, it’s perspective-changing. It’s restorative. It’s re-inspiring. It helps you find a reinvigoration of purpose.”

Team Player

Aside from his freelance videography business, Eason has been working as the videographer for the ConsumerWatch Team for KPIX-TV in San Francisco, California with reporter Julie Watts and producer Whitney Gould.

“It takes some time and trust from everyone to build a team, but when you do, everyone on that team brings what they do best to the table,” said Eason. “That’s how you create stories that are full of great sound bites, great scripting and great pictures and sound.”

It’s clear that Eason has found himself a dream team. Two of their biggest stories have led to legislative change in California after being featured nationally on CBS This Morning, The Talk and in CBS affiliate news broadcasts. These investigations have been widely recognized for their positive impact on safety issues.

Toxic Safety

While child car seats are crucial for safety, and required by law in all 50 states, the investigative team found that they may also be causing inadvertent harm. Car seat manufacturers have been adding chemical flame retardants to their car seats in order to satisfy federal flammability regulations. However, these regulations were created 45 years ago to address fires in car interiors caused by matches and cigarettes, which are no longer mainstream.

The investigation began as a blog post on Watt’s website, NewsMom.com, and became a much larger story in the process. Their investigation gained national attention after revealing how false advertising, legal loopholes and outdated federal regulations may expose millions of children to concerning and well-known-cancer-causing chemicals.

The team’s coverage on the topic of child car seat safety led to the introduction of new legislation revising the standards. It also won them the SPJ Sigma Delta Chi Award for public service in television journalism, as well as a Gracie in local investigative feature.

Toddler with a Credit Card

The team also focused an investigation on the difficulty of protecting a child’s credit. According to their findings, “Research shows that kids could be 50 times more likely to have their identities stolen than adults, in part, because the kids’ pristine credit records provide a blank slate for thieves and often go unchecked for more than 18 years.” While most people would assume this could easily be fixed by a simple credit freeze, many credit bureaus refuse to let parents freeze their children's credit.

Eason mans the camera for Watt's daughter Cecelia.

Eason mans the camera for Watt's daughter Cecelia.

 

California Assemblyman Mike Gatto cited their coverage of the topic to introduce a new child credit freeze legislation. This new law will give parents the right to freeze their child’s credit. It unanimously passed the state senate and assembly and is now in effect.

The investigation, and subsequent step-by-step guide to freeze a child’s credit, won the team a Headliner for broadcast or cable television stations business and consumer reporting.

Life in the Spotlight

After working on such influential stories, it was only a matter of time before Eason and the rest of the team were recognized for their work. Though each of the awards were significant, Eason admits to having a favorite.

“The SPJ award is what I’m most proud of,” said Eason. “We did some of the most outstanding journalism in the country and our stories had such a great impact on so many people that the Society of Professional Journalists have chosen us as representing the best of what journalism can be.”

Though Eason’s work was also nominated for three Emmys, he walked out of the Northwest Regional Emmy Awards without a trophy on June 3. However, he was pulled up on stage by Watts upon her win. She thanked him for all of his hard work in front of the crowd.

“She got a little teary, which got me really choked up,” said Eason. “Sometimes it’s not the trophy that makes you feel special. It’s the recognition by your peers, in front of your peers, that makes you feel valued and important. It makes you feel like you’ve chosen the right direction in life.”

By Kaitlin Dudlets

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Sparty Goes to the Titanic Museum

Posted on: June 8, 2017

This post was originally published on the MSU Mass Media 2017 blogTitanic Sparty

The past few days have been rough for me. I traveled to the U.K. with some friends in the Mass Media in the U.K. program. Unfortunately, they didn’t even buy me a plane ticket, so I had to travel all the way across the pond in a suitcase. Today, they finally decided to take me out for some fun. Our first stop was the Titanic Museum in Belfast, Northern Ireland. While visiting the museum we learned about the history of Belfast, which is where the Titanic was built. I saw tons of pictures and artifacts. We got to read about passengers aboard the ship who survived and who had passed. There was even one little 9 year old boy, Frank J. Goldsmith who was on the Titanic emigrating to Detroit, Michigan! Sadly, he did not survive, but still cool to read about because Detroit isn’t too far from my home at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan!

Titanic Sign

After the museum we left and went to a delicious lunch at a pub called McHugh’s. My friends didn’t buy me any lunch (which made me kind of sad), but their food sure did lookTitanic Museum yummy! Some kids got fish & chips and others got bangers & mash. We sat around and chatted for a while before we had to figure out how to pay the bill. The money system in the U.K. is definitely different from America, but were catching on quickly! I’m having so much fun here in Belfast, I don’t know if I ever want to come home!

To learn more about the study abroad trip, follow the students' Mass Media blog.

By Alli Stark (aka "Sparty") 

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Media Sandbox Takes Students on Field Experience Trip to L.A.

Posted on: May 31, 2017

ComArtSci’s Media Sandbox took students from Advertising, Journalism, Media and Information and Communication on a Field Experience Trip to Los Angeles this May. The group of 21, led by Karl Gude and Payal Ravani, visited major media companies hosted by Spartan alumni.

“This was our inaugural Sandbox student trip to visit media companies in Los Angeles,” said Gude. “The role of Sandbox in our college is to mix students up from different majors and with different interests and get them collaborating on projects and activities. This trip did just that.”

The goal of the L.A. study away was to introduce students to the variety of careers in the entertainment industry and Southern California job market, as well as give them the chance to network with professionals. According to Gude, this will be a yearly trip, and he hopes to extend it to new cities over time.

Monday, May 8 | Princess Cruises and AEG

Princess

Spartan alumnus Brian O'Connor (center back), VP for Public Relations for Princess Cruises with Sandbox students. O’Connor and others from PC’s integrated communications team spoke with the students about international PR, brand marketing, content strategy, special events and more.

Lakers

Spartan Vanessa Shay, Vice President, AEG Global Partnerships, far right, shows Sandbox students around the Staples Center. Shay and her colleagues talked about what it takes to run the world’s largest entertainment company — including corporate sales, a TV network, talent acquisition, broadcast/multimedia production, special events, employee engagement and diversity initiatives and more.

Tuesday, May 9 | Country Music Television and FOX Sports/Studios

CMT

Visiting with Spartan Matt Trierweiler (left), Senior Director of Development at Viacom's Country Music Television (CMT). Reality exec, Jayson Dinsmore, also popped in to talk with the students. They both shared their experiences of working their way up in development and management of the TV industry.

Fox

(Left to right at the end of the table) Spartans Lauren Ford, Senior Director, Digital Marketing at FOX Sports, Steve Van Wormer, Senior Producer at Fox Sports, Jeff Antlocer, Vice President for On-air Promotion for Fox Sports and Stacey Batzer, Senior Creative Director at Fox Broadcasting Company visit with the students.

Wednesday, May 10 | Univision, Fullscreen Studios and Deutsch

Univision

The marvelous Haz Montana (far left), Vice President of Content at Univision Radio and a Spartan, hosted our group at Univision. He and his team talked with students about what it means to be the leading multimedia company serving Hispanic America, with a mission to inform, empower and entertain the community.

FullscreenSpartans Matt Gatson (standing rear, with beard) and Korey Kuhl and Tyler Oakley (seated left and right) host Sandbox students at Fullscreen Studios. Kuhl and Oakley shared their thoughts on how to stay relevant and genuine in a time when how we consume entertainment is rapidly changing.

Deutsch

Students with Mike Sheldon, Chairman & CEO of Deutsch North America. Sheldon shared his story, offered tried and true advice, and had the students take an oath: swearing that they have what it takes to get a job after college.

Thursday, May 11 | Los Angeles Times and NFL Network 

LATimes

Students meet with Len DeGroot, director of data visualization, at the Los Angeles Times and sat in on a morning news meeting with the editorial staff to see journalism in action.

NFL

Spartan Richard Isakow, producer, hosted students for a studio tour, Q&A with executives and a live TV broadcast at the NFL Network.

Friday, May 12 | Freelance and mOcean

Nic Angell

Sandbox students visit with Spartan Nic Angell, a freelance film editor and post production supervisor. He conversed with students about life in Los Angeles and life as a freelancer in the entertainment industry.

MOcean

Sandbox students get comfortable with Spartan Craig Murray, founder of mOcean on their visit to Los Angeles. Murray and his team of MSU alumni talked with students about their creative process and how the worlds of production and marketing are intertwined in the entertainment industry.

By Kaitlin Dudlets

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Journalism Graduate Lands Position at Men’s Health

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Haley Kluge graduated this past May with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in graphic design in hopes of breaking into the magazine industry. Well, her goal just turned into a reality.Kluge Image

Kluge will be working at Men’s Health magazine as a designer on the print publication. Despite receiving such a reputable position, this wasn’t her original plan.

“I had actually already secured a New York internship for the summer before I saw the Men’s Health post listed,” said Kluge. “I had every intention to go out to New York for the summer and then try and interview and find jobs while I was out there, but when I saw the posting online, I figured it couldn’t hurt.”

Landing the dream job was equal parts Kluge’s persistence and the magazine’s compatibility.

“I applied through the corporate HR website, and then when I didn’t hear anything a few weeks later, I emailed the creative director directly just to introduce myself. From there, he asked to meet me and I flew out for an interview that next week,” said Kluge. “I fell in love with their brand and the interview seemed so easy and conversational that I knew that if they offered it to me, I would flip my plans upside down to accommodate accepting it. Turns out, they did.”

Preparation for this position started long before Kluge walked across the stage and collected her diploma. Most recently, she was a graphic designer for both Michigan State Football and Michigan State Athletics, the art director at VIM Magazine, the presentation editor at Dialogue Newspaper as well as the president of Society for News Design. She was also heavily involved in Greek life: Vice President of Recruitment Guides for the MSU Panhellenic Council, Kappa Kappa Gamma’s marshal and a member of Order of Omega. Additionally, she was the design editor for the Red Cedar Log, a graphic designer for Communications and Brand Strategy and worked at the State News. As if that wasn’t enough, Kluge spent two summers in NYC interning with Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping.

Time Management Pro

“I’ve always said “better busy than bored,” and that sort of carries me through everyday life,” said Kluge. “I just naturally can’t sit still, and I think that allows me to thrive under pressure or work harder when I’m on deadlines. It’s just the best environment for me. But even with that, I just try and stay organized and caffeinated. I use my planner religiously and [drink] more Diet Cokes than I’d like to admit.”

While Kluge might not recommend her caffeine habits to others, she does have some advice for ComArtSci students looking for success.

“I think the biggest thing you can ever do is just to try new things,” said Kluge. “Push yourself out of your comfort zone and find job postings you never think you’ll get and apply anyway. On campus, join every club that interests you that you can handle, and throw yourself into them.”

Kluge spent two summers in her dream internships in New York, all because she was brave enough to press the send button.

“Never be worried about rejection,” said Kluge. “It’s just a part of the process and you’ll never know if you don’t try.”

By Kaitlin Dudlets 

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From MSU to BCN: Retired Professor Calls Barcelona Home

Posted on: May 25, 2017

Cheryl Pell walked the halls of ComArtSci for almost 30 years before retiring in August 2015. Now she walks the cobblestone streets of Barcelona.

“It was a big decision to sell my house and my car, stash all my belongings in two storage units, bid friends and family farewell and take a one-way flight to live in a foreign country,” said Pell. “Now that I’m here, I know it was the right decision for me.”

An international educator

Pell and Mario at Parc de la Ciutadella

Pell and Mario at Parc de la Ciutadella

Pell was hired in 1987 as the executive director of Michigan Interscholastic Press Association (MIPA), an organization headquartered in the School of Journalism. Twenty-five years later, she stepped down from MIPA and continued to be a senior specialist, teaching journalism classes and leading study abroad trips.

“I always felt fortunate that ComArtSci was and still is a big supporter of study abroad programs, and I think that’s awesome,” said Pell. “They supported students with scholarships and encouraged faculty to plan quality programs for our students.”

Pell single-handedly led The Creative Journey study abroad program in the summer of 2016, taking 15 students from Barcelona to Berlin to embrace the art of visual storytelling.

“Barcelona loves the arts and celebrates its area’s artists and architects, including Salvador Dalí, Antoni Gaudí, Joan Miró and Pablo Picasso,” said Pell. “It’s a very inspirational city, and I was thrilled to be able to share its beauty with students.”

With ten previous visits to Barcelona under her belt, Pell introduced her students to the Dalí museum, Park Güell, La Sagrada Familia and the Mingarro brothers’ Brosmind Studio. She encouraged her students to collect flyers, brochures and other artifacts they found along the way. The images and clippings would aid in the construction of various student assignments and projects. Pell was also eager to share her passion for typography and design, frequently pointing out -- with either admiration or disdain -- the logos of various businesses and restaurants.

“My passion is design, in any form, but mostly graphic design,” said Pell. “I’ve been known to walk out of a restaurant if the typeface on the menu is lousy.”

From MSU to BCN

Now that Pell calls Barcelona her home, she spends most of her time exploring the city with her constant companion, an 11-year-old Maltese named Mario.

“Nearly every day I try to go to an area I haven’t been to before just to continue to get a feel for the city,” said Pell. “I seek out markets, art installations, street musicians, festivals, parades and protests. Every week I try to see something I haven’t seen before.”

It’s likely that Pell would never have ended up in the Catalonian city if it wasn’t for the travel grant she received from the Society for News Design (SND) while working for ComArtSci in 1995. The grant allowed her to work with 12 college students from all over the country at SND's annual convention, which was held in Barcelona that year.

“This was the first time I had ever gone to Europe, and that is precisely when I fell in love with Barcelona,” said Pell. “It is a bit of an unusual twist that in 2017, I flew back to the U.S. from Barcelona to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from SND. None of this would have happened if I had not been on the faculty of the J-School in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences.”

Finding new hobbies

Pell at Guell New

Pell and Mario at Park Güell

Pell documents all of these experiences on her Instagram account, to which she posts daily. The retired professor’s account is filled with images and videos of city landmarks, store displays and, of course, the local cuisine. Each post is accompanied by the hashtags #myyearaway2017 and #photoadayfrombcn, as well as a short description.

“I’ve had fun with Instagram,” said Pell. “It’s a quick, easy way to document my time here. I’m honestly doing it more for my own record keeping than for the purpose of social media.”

Pell’s background in journalism can certainly be seen filtering into her account. There are very few photos of her, a testament of her dislike of the selfie stick. She wants to capture the moments of the places and people around her and share them with her followers.

“It’s not about me. Journalists inherently live this way, and they know the story is not about them,” said Pell. “My goal is to share the city’s greatness as well as its wonderful, small moments. Sometimes I am just compelled to add explanatory information to the Instagram posts, and that, of course, is rooted in wanting to inform, which journalists do every day.”

By Kaitlin Dudlets 

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