Breaking the Digital Divide: Using Technology to Improve the Lives of Older Adults

Posted on: July 13, 2017

Shelia CottenAs we age, our ability to learn and retain new information diminishes. So much so, that by the time we reach our 80s and 90s, a skill picked up easily by a toddler – like tapping and swiping on a mobile phone - can seem too daunting to undertake. Frustrated and defeated, many older adults simply give up trying to learn new skills.

That’s where Shelia Cotten, Ph.D. steps in. A professor in the Department of Media and Information in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences (ComArtSci), Cotten researches technology use across the life course. Her goal is to improve the lives of older adults by closing the digital divide and helping them learn to use technologies to improve their lives.

Training Older Adults

Elderly man using computer tabletIn a recent study, Cotten and her team spent 5-years working with 19 different assisted and independent living facilities training older adults to use computers and the internet. The training lasted for 8-weeks in each facility, with 2 training sessions per week plus an additional office hours session.

The team started with the basics – from turning on a computer, to conducting an internet search, to sending an email.

“A lot of times, older adults have had no experience with computers in their lives,” said Cotten. “So, we have to start very basic. We started early teaching them to use email because findings from our prior work showed that older adults really enjoy that one-to-one communication/interaction.”

The participants also learned how to search for health information, and to critically evaluate the information they found.

“Because a lot of older adults have more health problems than younger aged groups [the question is] ‘How do you find information on the latest prescription that you’ve been given?’ and ‘Is there a conflict with some other medicine that you’re taking?’ We try to help them to be more critical consumers of information,” said Cotten.

Improving Quality of Life

The team also observed the mental health and quality of life benefits the residents received while working with the research team, including impacts on depression, isolation and loneliness.

“A lot of times as people age into their 80s or 90s, their partners or spouses have died, their children may be living far away, their health tends to decline… the combination of those factors

leads them to be more isolated, have higher rates of loneliness, have higher depression levels as they move into older adulthood,” Cotten told us.

According to Cotten, more opportunities for interaction and exchange of social support often lead to more positive outcomes for older adults. Because of that, Cotten focused her study on training older adults in a face-to-face environment, teaching them ways to use technology to connect with their present as well as their past.

“We found the interaction is very beneficial for older adults in general,” said Cotten. “But, over and above [we found] that the training and technology usage had positive effects. Teaching older adults how to use computers and the internet had positive impacts on their quality of life.”

From finding their childhood homes using Google Street View, to watching their favorite classic television shows or listening to music from earlier generations on Hulu and YouTube, the participants were able to see that many of their memories still live on.

Findings of the Study

At the end of the 5-year study, Cotten and her team found that their work was a success.

“We saw very positive effects in terms of teaching older adults in these communities to cross the digital divide and use computers and the internet successfully,” Cotten recalled. “They had reduced loneliness, better social integration, and lower depression. And many of the positive results tended to persist over time.”

The group even wrote a book on designing technology training programs for older adults in continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs). The book is intended to help additional facilities work with their residents in the future, continuing to improve their quality of life.

Cotten said the team wrote the book “To provide the latest research- and design-based recommendations for how to design and implement technology training programs for older adults in CCRCs. Our approach concentrates on providing useful best practices for CCRC owners, CEOs and activity directors, as well as practitioners and system designers working with older adults to enhance their quality of life and educators studying older adults. Although the guidelines are couched in the context of CCRCs, they will have broader-based implications for training older adults to use computers, tablets and other technologies.”

More to Come

Cotten has dedicated her career to exploring innovative ways to use technology to improve people’s lives and just finished her fourth year at MSU. This summer, she is conducting a large-scale survey of older adults across the U.S. about different aspects of technology, including digital assistance and even autonomous vehicles.

“You know Alexa? And Siri? We want to get their perspectives on these technologies. There isn’t a lot known about these new technologies coming out and older adults’ perceptions of them and how they might use them to improve their quality of life,” said Cotten. “Autonomous vehicles have such a huge potential for older adults who have mobility problems and can’t drive anymore… Using autonomous vehicles has the potential to significantly impact their independence and have positive impacts on their quality of life.”

In addition to research, Cotten also teaches classes in ComArtSci, is the Director for the Sparrow/MSU Center for Innovation and Research, the Director of Trifecta and was recently promoted to MSU Foundation Professor.

“I love being in the Department of Media and Information and being at MSU; my whole department is focused on how can we use media and technology to improve people’s lives and the larger world. It’s a great opportunity to be in a very interdisciplinary department and have great collaborators who are all interested in different aspects of technology, media, or information. I love it here,” said Cotten.

View more of Cotten's work >> 

By Nikki W. O’Meara

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ComArtSci’s Sandi Smith Awarded University Distinguished Professor Title

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Sandi Smith Feature ImageAmong nine other Michigan State professors, ComArtSci’s own Sandi Smith has been named a University Distinguished Professor in recognition of her achievements in the classroom, her research and the community. This recognition is among the highest honors to be awarded by MSU to a faculty member.

“I am very honored to receive this award, but as with any accomplishment, I did not achieve this on my own,” said Smith. “My colleagues and graduate students in the department of communication deserve the recognition, too.”

Along with the title, which was voted on and approved by the Board of Trustees, Smith receives an additional stipend of $5,000 per year for the next five years in order to support professional activities. Smith said she will use the stipend to fund graduate students as they work in applied areas of interpersonal and health communication research.

Smith teaches and researches on topics such as persuasion, communication theory and interpersonal communication. In the past, her research has focused on persuading individuals to carry signed and witnessed organ donor cards, encouraging college students to consume alcohol moderately, if at all, and studying how interpersonal relationships with probation and parole officers contribute to positive outcomes for women on probation and parole, among many other topics.

The award is especially meaningful to Smith as her late husband, Charles Atkin, was also honored as a University Distinguished Professor. He was the chair of the department of communication for 15 years and was also an accomplished scholar.

This is not the first time Smith has been recognized for her work. She was previously honored with the Distinguished Faculty Award at Michigan State University, has received the B. Aubrey Fisher Mentorship Award from the International Communication Association and has received the Distinguished Scholar Award from the National Communication Association, among other honors.

By Kaitlin Dudlets

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Advertising Professor Brings Award-Winning Experience to the Classroom

Posted on: July 6, 2017

“They all want experience, but you can’t get experience until someone hires you, but no one’s going to hire you if you don’t have experience.”

Schiavone FeatureThis is the predicament that haunts so many college graduates, and current advertising professor of practice Lou Schiavone was no different. After pursuing his master’s in English and comparative literature from Columbia University, he moved back to Connecticut and once again became roommates with his parents. He worked at a bookstore and a few indoor tennis clubs while scouring the Help Wanted section of his local newspaper, hoping to break into the publishing industry.

“I saw an ad one day for a copywriter,” said Schiavone. “I had no clue what it was. I thought it had to do with copyrighting a name or registering a trademark. That was how clueless I was. Advertising was not on my radar in any way.”

Schiavone went into the interview with an accordion folder holding poetry, a couple of term papers and a few book reviews he had written. It was far from a portfolio, but it earned him the chance to prove his worth and he landed the job.

A Successful Career

After bouncing locally from agency to agency, Schiavone made his way to New York and landed at McCann-Erickson, where he would go on to create award-winning ad campaigns for a number of high-profile companies.

“When I got to New York and McCann, I got to work on Coca-Cola, L’oreal, Sony, the American Express Gold Card and AT&T,” said Schiavone. “It was really a lovely mix.”

Schiavone ended up heading over to work at Ogilvy, where he worked on accounts like Seagrams, Duracell, the British Tourist Authority and Paco Rabanne. He continued to work for a number of highly-visible accounts, and even did pro-bono work for brands like the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum and Meals on Wheels.

Schiavone was the creative director and copywriter for this poster while doing freelance work.

Schiavone was the creative director and copywriter for this poster while doing freelance work.

And then Schiavone got recruited to come to Michigan. He worked at Doner in Southfield, which had primarily been a regional agency, just as they were getting approached by national and multinational clients for work. Schiavone’s creative group worked on brands like Iams pet food, British Petroleum, Chiquita Bananas, Ballpark Franks and Lay-Z-Boy, as well as more regional accounts like The Detroit Zoo, The Detroit Institute of Arts and University of Michigan Hospital.

“I was at Doner for about eight years and then I went to work at Enlighten, a digital agency in Ann Arbor, which was strategically a great career move,” said Schiavone, who remembers the convergence of traditional media into a new digital world where everyone lives online. “My time at Enlighten helped me to see the convergence coming and also to know how to fit what I do into that landscape. It gave me a skillset that helped me stay relevant.”

Bringing Experience to the Classroom

His continued relevance and impressive track record in the advertising profession are what put him on ComArtSci’s radar. Before long, he was approached by the university to teach.

“I’ve practiced my craft in the real world, and now I teach what I’ve done my whole career,” said Schiavone. “They have a commitment in this department and in this college to bring in people who are actually still practitioners in what they teach.”

If there’s anyone who knows what it takes to be successful in the advertising industry, it’s Schiavone, and he wants to pass that information onto his students. He says that talent is of paramount importance and that “there’s a lot of talent here” at ComArtSci.

Another one of Schiavone's freelance pieces.

Another one of Schiavone's freelance pieces.

“Besides talent, timing is really kind of everything,” said Schiavone. “If I look at my own career, it had everything to do with timing. Sometimes it’s about knowing people who can open doors for you. That doesn’t mean you won’t do well on your own once you go through those doors, but it does help to develop relationships with people who can facilitate your movement upward.”

Schiavone has certainly propelled his students upward and onward. Recent advertising graduate Savannah Benavides ’17 won a National Silver ADDY after Schiavone urged her to submit her class project, recognizing her talent despite her doubt. Alumnus Matt Richter ’16, who just won a National Gold ADDY for his work with alumna Lauren Cutler ’16, credits much of his success to the relationship he built with Schiavone, citing him as one of the professors “who will bend over backwards to get you a job, because they believe in you.”

A Global Industry

Schiavone also emphasizes the importance of staying relevant by keeping up with current work in the industry, not just in the U.S., but globally. New markets like Sao Paulo, Tel Aviv and Moscow are turning out great work.

“You don’t have to know every agency and every player, but it does help to know where the really good work is being done,” said Schiavone. “It’s really a global business now.”

Beyond talent, timing and staying relevant, Schiavone says that he can’t think of anyone who ever got anywhere on the creative side of advertising by playing it safe.

“I think it’s important to play full-out, to take your foot off the brake - metaphorically speaking - and actually let your mind go to a place that’s unfamiliar,” said Schiavone. “I think that’s absolutely critical. If you just work within a box and play it safe, you’ll have a career. You just won’t have a terribly exciting one.”  

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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ComArtSci Brings Home 5 Emmy Awards

Posted on: June 15, 2017


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 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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Interdisciplinary team led by ComArtSci receives USDA grant to study retail purchase decisions

Posted on: November 14, 2016

vlcsnap-2016-11-11-13h26m20s268The answers behind purchase decisions may lie in the eye of the beholder according to a recently funded interdisciplinary study involving the Michigan State University departments of Advertising and Public Relations and Horticulture.

Beginning early 2017, Professor of Retailing Patricia Huddleston will join Professor of Horticulture Marketing Bridget Behe in leading a student research team that will use eye-tracking technology to investigate how people make product choices—in this case, plants. The two-year project recently received a Federal State Marketing and Improvement Program grant for $136,000 through the United States Departmehuddleston-pat-09132016-3032-2nt of Agriculture.

"I've always been interested in what happens at the moment of truth," Huddleston says. "It's fascinating to looked at what consumers do when they are actually picking a product off a shelf or a rack. The context here are plants, but you can apply this research to any type of product."

Huddleston explains that much of the success of retailing depends on getting things right—or the science of finding the right mix of product assortment, pricing and merchandising that attracts and entices consumers. The recently funded study, she says, will look at how merchandise—specifically selections of herbs or flowering annuals—ispresented at the point of purchase, and how information in displays affects consumer behavior.

The study will be conducted on campus the first year, then migrate to retail settings in mid-Michigan in 2018. Huddleston and Behe will construct displays that vary in product volume and complexity, and then enlist subjects to pick a particular plant for purchase. Participants will wear second-generation Tobii eye-tracking glasses during their retail experience, which enables researchers to gather and analyze data about what shoppers look at, for how long, and in what sequence before making their purchase decision. Participants will also complete a questionnaire to further assess cues and previous product involvement that may influence their decision.behe-bridget

Huddleston says it's exciting to capture physical evidence through the eye-tracking technology, and to translate the results for retailers. Both she and Behe
also say the research charts new territory since previous research involving visual gaze path analysis has typically examined highly-packaged products in boxes and bottles—and not minimally packaged products like plants, apparel, furniture and art.

"This project will push us a bit more in our learning because we will capture, manage and relate visual data in a more realistic retail setting," says Behe. "And what better products to explore the shopping process than plants? Besides, if we all planted more plants, the world would be a better place."


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Advertising professor works to eradicate bullying from schools and universities

Posted on: November 7, 2016

Bullying is a chronic issue for school administrators and instructors. With social media acting as an additional digital environment for students,alhabash-saleem-20150925-6588 the name-calling and destructive criticism has become even harder to contain.

Saleem Alhabash, Assistant professor in the MSU Department of Advertising + Public Relations, was invited to speak about his research studying cyberbullying and why people don’t report or take action against bullies online as a panelist for Defeat The Label, a social
movement that promotes inclusivity and acceptance in schools around the world. The group hosted its first community conversation about bullying in Novi, Mich. in October.

MSU’s partnership with Defeat The Label was orchestrated by an East Lansing local and longtime university employee Kevin Epling. Epling began advocating against bullying more than a decade ago after his middle school aged son committed suicide as a result of being bullied by fellow students.

“I’ve been doing some work on cyberbullying and Kevin tried to connect us with Defeat The Label,” said Alhabash. “We organized this community conversation that gathered school administrators from different parts of the state, school educators, students and parents and other people to try to talk about what can we do to promote non-bullying in our schools.”

Alhabash’s research focuses heavily on college students, emphasizing how bullying does not end when a student graduates high school and joins a college campus. He explained that 20 percent of Michigan State University college students report being bullied – in person and online – and 70 percent say they have seen someone else being bullied. He said it can be seen in greek life, dorms and in the classroom.

“It is still happening but no one is talking about it because there’s a big stigma that bullying is something for young people and we don’t want to chat about it,” said Alhabash. “The work that I’m trying to do now is trying to shift the discussion from the stigmatized bullying and cyberbullying and specifically talk about aggression and digital aggression.”

Alhabash recommends that system and software designers implement more strict policies to curb the prevalence of online bullying. More simply, he said, people can take action by reporting harmful content and speech as well as keeping a record of it.

“When you see something mean happening online record it. Take a screenshot,” said Alhabash. “Grab it any way because past experiences have shown that some of these aggressive behaviors online can turn into really bad things such as a person committing suicide or someone telling someone to commit suicide.”

At the panel, Alhabash said educators responded well to what he had to say, but they questioned how to promote kindness in the classroom when the current political climate of the presidential election is based on bullying.

“It’ll be interesting to see after this election campaign how the rates of bullying and cyberbullying go up,” said Alhabash.

By Savannah Swix

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Love of art and cartooning led to storied career for new director of MSU Media Sandbox

Posted on: April 18, 2016

gude-karl-2016-6344Although descended from a long line of engineers and an ambassador, Karl Gude drew his greatest influence from a 19th century Norwegian artist.

"Hans Gude was my great great grandfather," says Gude. "He was a famous landscape painter during the Romantic period. Me, I became a cartoonist and illustrator. Close enough."

While creating art is among Gude's talents, the newly appointed director of the MSU Media Sandbox in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences is considered a master of visual storytelling in journalism. In 2006, Gude joined the MSU faculty to spearhead the first information graphics program through the School of Journalism. Since then, he has led study abroad programs in Spain and has taught courses in creative thinking and problem solving, a topic he is passionate about and guiding principle of the Media Sandbox: an integrated media arts program of cinematic arts, game development, graphic design, web design, visual storytelling, 3D art and animation.

Before coming to MSU, Gude served as Director of Information Graphics at Newsweek magazine, the Associated Press and the National Sports Daily.



Gude and his staffs covered major news events, including seven presidential elections, wars, sporting events, natural disasters, science, medical and technical advancements and the attack on the World Trade Center.

 "This emotional story was unfolding down the street in our hometown," Gude says. "At Newsweek, we worked on the graphics through our shock and grief."

train big drawing girl299Gude has consulted with corporations, PR and news organizations, academic and scientific institutions and government agencies to create infographics. He also writes and draws a column for the Huffington Post, has given TEDx talks in Detroit and Lansing, and has spoken twice at the South by Southwest (SXSW) technology conference. His drawings and cartoons have been widely published, including in the New York Times. He also has more than 5.3 millions views to his YouTube page where he demonstrates ways to use visualization software and more.

"I always thought I would be hired as an artist somewhere," Gude says. "I feel really lucky to have stumbled on a career in journalism, and to come in early in the growing field of infographics."

Pathway to the sandbox

Gude traces his path to journalism and into the Media Sandbox back to his early teens—the days when his father sent him to his room for causing trouble. Once there, he would pick up a pencil and paper and draw, triggering a calming effect he says gave him a sense direction for what he wanted to do in life.

After high school, Gude moved to South America to live with his maternal grandparents and teach English. When he turned 20, he came back to the U.S. and took an art course at a community college. He wound up doing carpentry, working in hardware stores and eventually moving to Vermont to work on a dairy farm. All the while, he kept drawing. After tending to cows and delivering calves for two years, he sold his truck and moved to New York City. It was 1979, he was 23, and he had $5,000 to try and make it as an artist and illustrator for comics and children's books.

"What else does a young man want to do other than that?" he laughs. "I told myself if my money ran out, I would move back to the farm. But I was driven by desperation and hunger and the fact that I had decided New York City was the coolest place on the planet."

Gude succeeded. He worked as a messenger delivering packages to make extra money, and colored in comic book covers for a publishing house. While there, a colleague told him about a journalism job. She gave him a slip of paper with a phone number and told him to call.

"I called, got an interview, and eventually this place called United Press International called me back," he says. "They hired me to help explain the news of the day by visualizing and drawing things—what they now call infographics."Karl-drawing-table-at-UPI-1979

Guide realizes his career is part happenstance and part ambition fueled by the drive to overcome the objections of those who devalued creative professions, like his father and some teachers. That realization, he says, is among the lessons he wants to convey to students, particularly those pursuing creative and innovative paths through MSU's Media Sandbox.

"It's important for students to know that all their skills and intelligences are valued," Gude says. "I don't want students to lose their uniqueness, to have it squeezed out of them. I want to do everything to help them find their individual voices, to understand what they are good at, and to forget those negative messages they may have received."

Gude lives in East Lansing with his wife, Dorsey Gude, who he met while working at the Associated Press and who works in development at MSU. His two 20-something sons have explored both science and the arts, with the older pursing environmental sustainability and the younger classical guitar and writing.

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MSU instructor and veteran photojournalist inducted into renowned NATAS Silver Circle

Posted on: March 3, 2016


Bob Gould, MSU broadcaster in residence in the College of Communication Arts and
Sciences, hadn't intended to build a career in broadcast news. While a self-proclaimed "news junkie" as a kid, the MSU alum says he actually had his sights set on working in a production house, editing and shooting video.


But something changed after he graduated from MSU in 1990 with his bachelor's in telecommunications. He discovered he really did love news after shooting and editing stories for daily newscasts for WILX-TV in Lansing and later for WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Mich. It was a path that led to a 17-year career as a revered photojournalist, earning more than 40 awards for his work from the National Press Photographers Association, the Michigan Association of Broadcasters, and the Michigan Associated Press, and a combination of 10 regional EMMY nominations and awards. It was also a path that led to leadership, causing him to seek out roles with the NPA, the Michigan TV News Photographer's Association, and the organization that will honor him for his devotion to the industry.

In late February, the Michigan Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Science will induct Gould into the Silver Circle—an honor reserved for individuals who have devoted a quarter of a century to the television industry, and who have made a significant contribution to the Michigan broadcast community.

Humbled by the news, Gould continues to find himself in disbelief.

"When I look at the list of people who have been inducted over the years, I have to pinch myself," Gould says. "These are people you look up to and watch on TV, and people who have reached the pinnacle of their career. I'm just the person shooting video and telling stories."

Gould left working in the field in 2007 to pursue his dream job teaching TV reporting, multimedia and media law/ethics courses at MSU. Part of his work includes executive producing the multi-award-winning, "Focal Point," a 30-minute student-produced newscast that has garnered nearly 60 awards. He also helps ensure the future of broadcast education as vice president of the Michigan Chapter of NATAS, as committee chair for the Broadcast Education Association, and as a member of the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Foundation board.

"I had so many wonderful experiences in the field, shooting and putting together stories that mattered to people," he says. "Now I get a chance to mentor students. That's pretty cool thing."

Lucinda Davenport, professor and director in the MSU School of Journalism, says that the knowledge Gould brings to the classroom helps students know what is expected of them to succeed and be leaders in the industry.

 "Our students can aspire toward the things that Bob reflects, and feel confident stepping out his classroom and into the newsroom," Davenport says. "We're very proud of Bob, and it's nice to see the rest of the world sees his successes."

Gould will be among five honorees inducted into the Michigan Chapter NATAS Silver Circle this year. The ceremony will take place on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016 at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham, Mich.

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J-School Pulitzer winners gather in Washington

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FreedmanPulitzerPic (1)

Three Pulitzer Prize-winners from the J-School took part in recent events in Washington, D.C., commemorating the centennial of the prestigious awards in journalism, literature and music.

M.L. Elrick, ‘90, won a 2009 Pulitzer for Detroit Free Press coverage of then-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s corruption scandal.

The Pulitzer judges cited Elrick and Free Press colleague James Schaefer for “their uncovering of a pattern of lies by Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick that included denial of a sexual relationship with his female chief of staff, prompting an investigation of perjury that eventually led to jail terms for the two officials.”

Elrick is now a reporter at Fox 2 News (WJBK TV) in Detroit and a member of the of the MSU College of Communication Arts & Sciences alumni board.

As reporters in the Detroit News Lansing Bureau, James Mitzelfeld, ‘84, and J-School Professor Eric Freedman won their 1994 Pulitzer for coverage of a corruption scandal in the Michigan legislature.

Judges cited their “dogged reporting that disclosed flagrant spending abuses at Michigan's House Fiscal Agency.”

Mitzelfeld is now senior counsel in the Office of the Inspector General at the U.S. Justice Department in Washington, At MSU, he was editor-in-chief of the State News and a Capital News Service correspondent.

At the time of their prize-winning reporting, Freedman was a J-School adjunct faculty member. He joined MSU full-time in 1996 and is now Knight Chair, director of the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism and director of Capital News Service.

In October, the J-School will be involved in another Pulitzer Centennial event, this time in Lansing.

A partnership of the Michigan Humanities Council, Michigan Interscholastic Press Association and the J-School will create a high school-level competition for journalism students to work with Michigan Pulitzer winners at the MIPA fall conference.

Schools will hold competitions and choose a student piece for professional journalists to judge. The winners will earn a travel scholarship to attend the conference and will work in small classroom settings with the journalists.

It’s part of a national Pulitzer Campfires initiative by the Pulitzer Prize Board and Federation of State Humanities Councils, with funding from the Mellon Foundation, Carnegie Corp. and Ford Foundation.

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