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JCOM’s Communicators Guild hosts students, alumni in first event

December 2nd, 2011 Posted in Opinion

By Max Parker Dahl

LOGAN—TV news anchor-turned-PR executive Amanda Butterfield spoke to students, staff and alumni Wednesday night for the premier event for the Communicators Guild, the new student association of the Journalism & Communication Department.

Despite poor weather and many campus events (including a basketball game) vying for attention, 50 students, 11 alumni and three faculty members came to hear Butterfield, a 2000 JCOM alumna, as she reflected on the world of professional communication, and her evolution from a KSL-TV news reporter and anchor, to a public relations executive for Salt Lake’s Method Communications.

Butterfield moved last year from broadcast news to PR, two traditional areas in the JCOM department.  After anchoring the news for five years at KSL, including reporting from the Olympics in Beijing and Vancouver, Butterfield found herself facing a career crisis.

“I knew I wanted to be in TV since I was 8 years old; it was always what I wanted to do,” Butterfield said. “When I got let go in January I felt like I was 18 again, thinking, ‘What I do I want to be when I grow up?’”

After considering the commitment and irregular hours of a TV anchor, she started to factor in family time and holidays. An expectant mother and newlywed of about 18 months, Butterfield started looking for a more consistent schedule. An opportunity arose with Salt Lake public relations firm Method Communications, directed by fellow JCOM alumnus (and former Statesman editor) Jacob Moon, which she accepted in March.

“I wanted more stable hours, so for me it was definitely a lifestyle decision,” Butterfield said. “I wanted 9-5 and Christmas off, not driving to Wendover Friday at 2 a.m. to cover a homicide.”

Butterfield’s husband said he can’t recall a holiday that she did not work, and says he’s excited about their future.

Butterfield said the transition from news to business communications and public relations has been invigorating.

“It is natural, and such a great segue, if you are in PR getting into journalism or vice-versa,” she said. “You know what makes a good story, you know how to write, and it’s just the connections I made that have proven very valuable.”

Butterfield spoke extensively on the massive shift in media induystries, which will make traditional careers more difficult to find. She noted that even larger stations were reverting to a “one-man band” approach, where a crew member writes the story, carries the camera, recording equipment and edits the story solo.

“More people watch Youtube than all the big ABC, CBS, NBC stations combined in the evening,” Butterfield said.

Butterfield also gave advice to get hands-on training at smaller media outlets and to study comprehensive journalism skills to remain useful in the future of journalism.

JCOM Professor Ted Pease said he was very happy about the first formal event organized by the new student association, which formed this fall. “The faculty challenged the students to take ownership of their department and their future,” Pease said. “As we can see from tonight’s event, this is a way to help JCOM students connect with each other, and with former students.”

Senior Jessica Vasil, president of the Communicators Guild, pointed out the goals of the group in welcoming students and alumni to this first event: to create a mechanism for the 400-plus current students to get to know each other outside of their professional media areas, and to find ways to engage JCOM alumni.

Pizza and door prizes were provided by the Communicators Guild, a student association created to connect USU JCOM students to each other and alumni.

Stations were set up for USU alumni to network with students and exchange information. Representatives from ATK, KUTV 2, LDS Public Affairs, Cache Magazine, Cache Valley Magazine, WestHost, Logan Regional Hospital public relations, Utah Public Radio, the Logan Herald Journal and more came to offer career advice and internship opportunities to students, and to reconnect with each other and with their USU roots.


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