It seems like ages ago when I was desperately searching on the UNC-Chapel Hill’s online bulletin trying to find an interesting course to take in the Journalism school for the 2014 spring semester.  I needed to fulfill a few requirements, but I wanted to take a class that was fun and enjoyable. That is when I stumbled upon Journalism 240: Current Issues in Mass Communication. Being a public relations major, this class seemed interesting.  Isn’t it important for a PR major to know what is prevalent in the world of mass communication? I mean, a large part of public relations is serving as a channel of communication between the general public and your employer. Therefore, it is important to know how you can use mass communication in order to strengthen that communication channel.  In addition, I looked at the reviews for the class and talked to several of my journalism peers who had taken it in the past. For the most part, it seemed like it was a good class. So, I thought, why not give it a try?

Before registering for the class, however, I realized that I might not get in based on my registration time (all my college peers reading this, you feel my pain).  Therefore, to guarantee myself a slot, I e-mailed the professor who would be teaching the course. Enter John Robinson…a passionate, dedicated, and witty UNC-CH professor who served as editor for News and Record in Greensboro, N.C.  Upon receiving my e-mail, Professor Robinson quickly responded asking me why I wanted to be in the class.  Essentially he wanted me to prove to him I was a qualified and driven student.  Unlike many professors who respond almost exactly the same way…

“Thank you for your e-mail.  I cannot help you at this time.  Please monitor the class seat availability.” 

….Professor Robinson wanted to know why I was interested in the class.  He wanted to see me use my brain.  He was curious about my thoughts.  And to this day, I swear he was also testing out to see how much I would brown-nose him…isn’t that right Professor?  Regardless, it was an unexpected response and I took full advantage to share my own reasons as to why I wanted to take the class.

Well, I did get into JOMC 240! End of story, right? No, wrong!

If Professor Robinson’s original email wasn’t odd enough, a few weeks after registering for spring classes, I got another e-mail from him.  This time he had sent out a mass e-mail to the entire class offering extra credit for those who responded to him with what they wanted to learn in the course.  Okay, two things came out of this.  1) Any time you see the words EXTRA CREDIT in college, you should go hug a tree, call your momma, or run around in your PJs singing “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang.   2) My professor had just asked me what I wanted to learn in the course.  Normally, professors create a curriculum purely based on their own self-interest.  Instead, Professor Robinson was curious as to what I wanted to get out of the course.  Gracious, I should have known then…he was not an ordinary professor.

Consequently, I came to the first class of the semester expecting the unexpected.  The class met once every Monday for 3 hours.  What could we possibly talk about for 3 hours straight?  I myself was hesitant in the beginning.  Yet, I quickly learned that when you are in a class with Professor Robinson, anything is possible.  Right away Professor Robinson dived into interesting topics discussing “Kranzberg’s 1st law, privacy on the internet, targeted advertising to consumers, virtual reality, and future technological trends.”  And every single class was an open discussion.  Professor Robinson did not lecture us…instead, he made us talk.  He forced us to speak our minds, he wanted us to form our own opinion.  It was fantastic!

*As a disclaimer, I am a huge talker and find discussion based classes much more meaningful than classes where the teacher just lectures us from a slide show presentation.

Anyway, Professor Robinson introduced to me the idea that mass communication encompasses just about 99% of our daily lives. It amazed me how little I had ever considered this concept.  In our everyday lives, mass communication influences us in some form or another.

Enter in blogging and our assignment to blog about anything related to mass communication.  Professor Robinson asked us blog at least 3 times a week.  Essentially, he wanted us to expose ourselves on the internet.  At first I was unsure about this.  I mean, I didn’t even know how to manage a proper blog.  However, roughly +45 posts later, I have learned a thing or two.

1.  Blogging is a great way to form an opinion and voice your opinion.  At times I was often unsure how to tackle controversial articles I had read and wanted to talk about.  However, blogging enabled me to create my own discussion and communicate my own thoughts and ideas.  Although I was 10 times more vulnerable on the internet every time I posted, I was free to write whatever I wanted.  It was exhilarating!

2.  Blogging about mass communication reemphasized the lessons I had learned in class.  Mass communication is everywhere!  It plays a role in everything.  Therefore, the more knowledgeable we are in mass communication, the better communicators we will be in the world.  Those who are mass communication savvy will advance amongst the rest.  Mass communication is the future, and we must be prepared for it.

In addition, to parallel our class discussions and blogs, for our finals Professor Robinson asked us to predict the future of mass communication.  The assignment was this: we were to pick one area in which mass communication played a role and predict how mass communication will affect it 10 years down the road.  Like most of our assignments in the class, Professor Robinson gave us full reign to pick whatever we wanted and present it however we liked.  Being a Political Science and Public Relations double major, I decided to take a tackle social media’s influence on political campaigning.  As promised in my previous posts, I would publish my video on my blog.  So, here it is!  Please keep in mind that I am in PR, not multimedia…I did try my best.

As the title of this post states, all good things must come to an end.  Sadly, as I turned in my project to Professor Robinson today, I had to say good-bye to JOMC 240.  However, thank you Professor Robinson for making it an amazing class.  Your class taught me the importance of mass communication, the value in blogging, and the essential skill of voicing my own opinion.  From our chats after class, to our conversations on Twitter…I have thoroughly enjoyed being your student.  It goes without saying, I will definitely be keeping in touch!  To all my 240 peers, best of luck on your bright futures ahead.  I know each of you will go off and do remarkable things in the world of mass communication.  And finally, as for my blog…I do plan to continue posting!

Until then, Rachel

Ohhh…and one last thing…GO HEELS!!!!!!