Student Media Director and Journalism Faculty Member Named Top-10 Educator

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In the latest edition of Crain's NewsPro magazine, Robyn M. Starling-Ledbetter, director of Student Media and instructor in the U of A's School of Journalism and Strategic Media, was listed as one of the country's top-10 journalism educators of the year.

"I would like to think that I took the things I learned along the way, even during the short time I spent in a newsroom as a news reporter and anchor, and used them to be a good teacher who's relatable but also innovative," Starling-Ledbetter said. "I come up with ideas that are very innovative, but also applicable to the industry for our students, and so that's a strength of mine."

Starling-Ledbetter oversees the U of A's six student media entities: UATV, The Arkansas Traveler, Main Hill Media, the Hill Magazine, the Razorback Yearbook and KXUA.

Her vision played a major role in the convergence of these different outlets, and she said she is excited to continue working with these groups as they utilize the new, state-of-the-art Sue Walk Burnett Journalism and Student Media Center that began operation last semester.

Tiffany King, instructor and faculty advisor for UATV, said Starling-Ledbetter's focus on journalism's evolution made for many of student media's subsequent improvements.

"Robyn's enthusiasm for student success is infectious. She is a problem solver and always searches for ways to enhance the learning experience through student media," King said.

Under Starling-Ledbetter's leadership, students who would have been limited by their respective curriculum tracts in past years are now conquering new frontiers together, said Bret Schulte, a news editorial professor and faculty advisor for The Arkansas Traveler and Hill Magazine.

"Robyn has guided University of Arkansas student media into a new era of convergence that reflects the rapidly changing news media landscape," Schulte said. "Students are working together like never before under her terrific leadership, and they're winning a raft of awards for their work."

While Starling-Ledbetter's tireless work inside Kimpel Hall has resulted in many advances, her willingness to promote the program and glean new ideas by attending events may have been the driving force behind her nomination to the list, she said.

"I think it's just my steadfast presence there in academia and presenting at the [Broadcast Education Association] conference," Starling-Ledbetter said. "This is probably year seven or eight for me, and we actually are presenting again this year. I submitted a proposal that is solely about our convergence model, how we are really studying audience and workflow patterns in student media dealing with all six of our student media outlets, particularly the Traveler and UATV."

According to the article by Dinah Eng, those included on the top-10 list "encourage students to excel" and "were nominated by readers and members of the Radio Television Digital News Association, the Society of Environmental Journalists and the Broadcast Education Association." Ledbetter has been involved with the BEA for years.

The other schools represented in this year's class of top-10 journalism educators of the year include Arizona State University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Western Illinois University, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, University of Missouri, City University of New York, Columbia University, Ohio University and Syracuse University.

Read more in Crain's NewsPro Magazine.

A version of this story also appeared in the Fulbright REVIEW.


Andrew Epperson, graduate assistant
School of Journalism and Strategic Media


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