Journalism & Mass Communication

Students, faculty members and alumni in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication are from the advertising, journalism and pubic relations programs.


Alexis “Lexie” Alexander, a junior advertising major, talks about balancing school and basketball over the past three years. She is from Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.

“Basketball is great, but school is important, too. I think to myself, ‘All right, Lex, you’re trying to do something here; you’ve got to stay focused.’ But I really think basketball is going to help me in the future for wherever I want to go.

“It’s hard to play basketball, I’ll admit. It’s more mentally draining than some people really understand. Because when you’re done with a basketball game, you’re too mentally exhausted to want to do homework. At times, I do take a break. Sometimes, I’ll admit I may take one that is a little too long; but I always meet deadlines and make sure the homework gets done.

“It can be hard to find classes that fit within our basketball practice schedule. Sometimes we’ll have to take early morning classes, and, other semesters, it will be all late-night classes. I’ll occasionally wait to the last minute to register, and my coaches get on me about that!

“Our coaches stay on us, and we have grade checks regularly. If you’re not doing well enough in your classes, you have to come in for study tables, which no one wants because it’s adding all this extra time on top of your day that’s already busy enough.

“So, we’ve really learned to stay on top of things. Freshman year was hard, because you’re just not used to scheduling all these things on your own. But, as you continue, you learn to set aside time for homework; you learn to set aside time to get extra shots in after practice. You figure out how time management works as you go. It takes time, but you get used to it.

“I have to remember to take time to relax. If you’re constantly going, then you get over stressed and can’t be productive with whatever you’re doing.”

By Kelly Morrison, agricultural communication senior from Belle Plaine, Minnesota


Mary Beth McAdaragh, executive vice president of marketing for CBS Television Distribution, is a 1986 broadcast journalism graduate.

“When I graduated in May 1986 with a Bachelor of Arts in broadcast journalism, I felt I had a very strong foundation from which to start my career. I had hands-on experience in the TV studio having worked on many live South Dakota Public Broadcasting annual fundraising productions.

“Additionally, I spent the summer of my sophomore year at KMBC-TV in Kansas City, Missouri, doing a required internship in the programming and news departments. Working alongside these television executives taught me firsthand how the business of broadcasting worked.

“Finally, the most important role that the department played in my career would have to be the Midwestern work ethic and pride that was instilled in me those four years by my adviser and many instructors. When you work hard, you succeed. “Go Jackrabbits!”


Miranda Sampson, a junior interdisciplinary studies major from Brookings, recently chose to be a photographer.

“I’ve been playing trumpet since fifth grade. Fifth grade is the year you decide what instrument you want to play, and I couldn’t decide between the trumpet or the flute. I tried playing the flute, but I couldn’t get a sound out of it. So, I grabbed the trumpet and got sound. You can’t just pick up a trumpet and have it sound good—especially if you’re a fifth grader—but I was like, ‘this is really cool,’ and I’ve been playing ever since.

“Right before my sophomore year, I decided I wanted to be a photographer. I had changed my major a couple times before I figured out exactly what I wanted to do. First, I was a graphic design major. Then, I went undecided for a little while. I really loved music, so I said I was going to become a performance music major. I stayed with that for about four months.”

“Marching all summer, I absolutely loved it, but I realized I didn’t want to play for the rest of my life. Photography is definitely what I want to do. It was a big sigh of relief for me. I’m just loving it more and more.”

By Shanell Peterson, journalism senior from Alexandria
Photo by Shanell Peterson, Alexandria


Teri Finneman, assistant professor in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, was named the 2017 Outstanding Scholar for the College of Arts and Sciences.

“It’s actually really ironic for me to be named an outstanding scholar because it’s really the last thing that I identify with. When I describe myself to other people, even though I haven’t been an active reporter for a few years now, I still tend to identify myself as a reporter first. That is the heart of who I am. After that, I consider myself to be a teacher and then, dead last, I’m actually a researcher.

“I’ve really never wanted to be a researcher, it just kind of happened because I went to the Missouri School of Journalism, where research has a very heavy focus. I got involved with so many different projects that are just starting to come together now. So, this particular award is based on work that I started a few years ago.

“Last year was a really busy year for me because my book, “Press Portrayals of Women Politicians, 1870s-2000s,” came out, and I spent a lot of the year traveling across the country giving book tours about it. I’ve most notably given a talk at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., May 2016. It was really a highlight of my career—to be able to talk in that kind of environment.

“I’m currently working with a class to have a documentary pulled together of my North Dakota oral histories, and that will premiere at the Fargo Theatre this summer. My next project is taking a look at press coverage of the suffrage movement as the 100th anniversary of universal suffrage here in the United States approaches.”

By Courtney Johnson, agricultural communication senior from Brookings
Photo by Rebecca Scoggin McEntee

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