The Student Newspaper of Murray State

The Murray State News

The Murray State News

The Murray State News

Signing Off: Anderson talks about impact of being adviser

Anderson shares a farewell after being the adviser to the Murray State News for around six years. (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Anderson)

Dr. Stephanie Anderson
Faculty Adviser
[email protected]

I made a decision in the spring of 2000 that changed my life forever. I decided to attend Murray State and study journalism. 

I went on to earn my bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate from this great institution. 

In 2012, I had the pleasure of joining the journalism and mass communication department as an adjunct lecturer. 

Four years later, I moved into the role of assistant professor and publications adviser. 

Since Aug. 2016, I have taught journalism courses and advised The Murray State News. It was a chance for me to share my years of media experience with aspiring collegiate journalists.

I’ve had the chance to take students to conferences in Minneapolis, Washington D.C., Louisville, Bowling Green and Richmond, Kentucky. I’ve worked with five incredible editor-in-chiefs who have gone on to have amazing careers in their respective fields. 

I have run across campus at 10:30 p.m. with my editors because fire alarms were going off in the Blackburn Science Building, and then called Murray State Police to come let us back in to Wilson Hall just before midnight because in our mad dash to get to the breaking news, we all forgot our keys. I called my editor-in-chief’s mother after he wouldn’t answer the phone for breaking news. I believe I told him a time or two to always keep his ringer on. We can laugh about it now. I’ve been in the newsroom some nights until 4 a.m. overseeing the production of the weekly newspaper. While exhausting at times, it’s those moments I will miss most. 

I had the chance to work with students from all over the world, including Belize and Pakistan. My students have covered everything from the Marshall County High School shooting to the Richmond explosion to the change in university presidents to two presidential elections to a global pandemic and everything in between. 

My chosen field of academic research is trauma journalism. I had no idea when I started in this position how often I would be using what I’ve learned. We’ve had a number of tragedies to cover in the last five years, unfortunately. However, I feel as though I was better prepared to teach these students about the proper way to cover traumatic events as well as how to cope with the trauma they endured themselves while reporting the stories. 

My favorite part of being the faculty adviser of The News is the ability to teach students in a real world setting. There is only so much a professor can teach in the allotted time in the classroom. However, as adviser, I was not bound by the scheduled class hours. Breaking news can and will happen at any time of the day or night; so you must always be ready to teach. It doesn’t matter if you are in the middle of moving into a new house or taking your son to daycare in your pajamas, breaking news is going to happen and you have to be ready to advise the students on how to cover it. Yes, those really did happen. 

To President Bob Jackson and his administration, I appreciate how open and available you were to my students. To Provost Tim Todd, thank you for your support in creating a broadcast studio in the newsroom and the ability to start an online newscast. To Dean David Eaton, Chairman Allen White and the faculty of the journalism and mass communications department, thank you for allowing our students to ask questions, make mistakes and most importantly, learn from the best. 

Yes, I said mistakes. We have made them over the years but I was always proud of how the students handled it. Each mistake was an opportunity for a teaching moment and I did my best to seize that opportunity. I teach my students to follow the code of ethics from the Society of Professional Journalists and to use that to guide their decision-making. In particular, I recite the SPJ code of ethics when it comes to what they should and should not report and how to be accountable for their work, even when mistakes are made. 

The News is an award-winning student media organization. I take great pride in the numerous awards the students have won over the years. Many of you don’t see the effort that these students put in. Let me tell you, it’s a lot! Their work has been picked up by local, regional, national and even international media organizations. That’s impressive!

To my current and former students, thank you. You gave me a sense of purpose when I needed it most in my life. You have each touched my heart in a way that is difficult to put into words, even for a journalist. 

While adviser has been one of the greatest titles I have ever held, the greatest is mother. As I type this column at 9:03 p.m., my 17-month-old son is running around in the newsroom entertaining the staff. I will certainly miss production nights with “my kids.” The best part of the changes ahead is that while I will no longer wear my adviser hat, I still get to keep my teacher hat. And that means I will still get to work with the incredible students (including “my kids”) in the JMC department. 

Teachers, whether K-12 or postsecondary do not go into this field for the money. Rather, it is our love of learning, our desire to produce the next generation of movers and shakers and the ability to positively impact those we educate. I hope that I have made a difference in the lives of those who have passed through 111 Wilson Hall in the last five years. For those who have worked with me at The News, I will forever consider you “my kids.” 

I would be remiss to close without thanking two faculty members who have played an enormous role in the success of The News. Orville Herndon is the man behind the scenes who keeps this place running. I’ve never seen anyone more dedicated to their job than he. From the yearly Easter Egg Hunt he has for the staff to the late nights double and triple checking the newspaper for errors before sending it to print, your commitment doesn’t go unnoticed. I appreciate you more than you will ever know. 

The soon-to-be retired Robert Valentine, you were one of the few who I had the pleasure of having as a professor and then had the opportunity to work with as a colleague. You have taught me an incredible amount about advertising and life in general. You have played a vital role in keeping the doors open and the lights on. You put more time and energy into this student media organization than you ever had to do. I know the students have learned as much from you as I have. I am grateful I was able to sneak in a few years of working with you before you hung up your kilt. 

It has been a pleasure to serve in this role. I have no doubt The News will continue to be as successful as it has been for the last 94 years. Simon and team, you will always have my support. 

Dr. Stephanie Anderson

More to Discover