Students should expect big changes in campus student media organizations as both The Rocket and WSRU-TV look to merge over the course of the next academic year.
This merger will continue the pattern of The Rocket changing its identity over the past year, having cut from 12 print editions per semester to just five per semester in the fall. With the combining of The Rocket and WSRU-TV looming, Dr. Brittany Fleming will oversee the project, serving as the faculty advisor to both organizations.
“It took me about a semester to learn the ropes of WSRU-TV and my biggest thing was just getting the students to work as a student-media organization and not just as a student organization,” Fleming said. “Student-media organizations are so different than regular student organizations, so the advisor has such a different role.”
Fleming was WSRU-TV’s advisor for the 2016-2017 academic year and will replace Dr. Mark Zeltner as The Rocket’s advisor next year. [Zeltner has served as The Rocket’s advisor 19 years, having taken a brief hiatus in the mid-2000s to serve as the communication department’s chair, but ultimately returning to The Rocket.] Zeltner believes that Fleming will be a great advisor to both student-media organizations, and has some suggestions as to how she can help The Rocket stay successful.
“She’s already proven she’s a great advisor to WSRU-TV,” Zeltner said. “I know she has a clear vision for The Rocket and WSRU-TV that will create a bigger and stronger media presence here on campus.”
Zeltner noted that he’s going to have to change his weekly routine now that he won’t be with The Rocket staff late on Thursday nights.
“On Thursday nights, I’m going to watch Grey’s Anatomy and have a very stiff drink,” Zeltner joked.
Along with the shift in faculty advisory, The Rocket will also replace seven staff members in the 2017-2018 year and will also welcome several new ones. Six of the non-returning staff members are graduating seniors.
Amongst the non-returns are seniors Ryan Barlow, editor-in-chief, Jordyn Bennett, assistant sports editor, Amanda Salvia, assistant copy/web editor, Rebecca Dietrich, photo editor, Kendall Scott, assistant photo editor and Cathryn Burton, advertising manager. Also among those not returning to staff is junior and current assistant news editor Logan Campbell.
Returning staff members include junior Cody Nespor, who will replace Barlow as editor-in-chief.
“I could’ve been sports editor for one more year, but in terms of vertical growth, there isn’t whole lot more that I could’ve done with the (sports) section,” Nespor said. “So moving up and being in charge of the whole paper seemed like the next logical step for me.”
Also returning is junior Daniel DiFabio, news editor, sophomore Megan Bush, campus life editor, freshman Megan Majercak, assistant campus life editor, junior Victoria Davis, copy/web editor and sophomore Eric Davies, multimedia reporter.
Additionally, The Rocket staff will feature two new members to the sports section, led by junior Justin Kraus, who will take over as sports editor and Stephen Cukovich as assistant sports editor. The photo section will also include two new staff members, with sophomore Paris Malone as the new photo editor and Carly Lutz, as assistant Photo editor. Freshman Adam Zook will join DiFabio in the news section as assistant news editor. Sophomore Heather Donat will replace Salvia and join Davis as the new assistant copy/web editor, while junior Rachel Burnett will replace Burton as advertising manager.
Nespor knows that the convergence of the two campus media organizations will be difficult, but he’s glad that he’ll be the man behind the transition.
“It’s going to be weird and it’s going to be hard to do, but I’m kind of glad that it’s me that gets to do it,” Nespor said. “Since I already do work with WSRU, I’m hoping that I can be that bridge. It’s going to take a lot of communication, cooperation and collaboration.”
Despite how difficult the move may be, Nespor is glad that he’s going to have the staff that was hired for next year to go through the process with.
“The biggest thing will be building a close relationship (with each other),” Nespor said. “That’ll be the biggest thing for these new people in the first month or so. And also building trust that they can do their jobs, which we all know they can do.”