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Jerry Ceppos

New Dean Plans on Keeping LSU at the Forefront of Media Education

LSU's Manship School of Mass Communication has always worked diligently to remain on the forefront of the ever-changing world of mass media. That is something that Jerry Ceppos has always admired, and it's work he plans to continue as the Manship School's new dean.

Jerry Ceppos
Jerry Ceppos takes over as dean of the Manship School of Mass Communication after a 30-year career in mass media and three years as dean of the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada-Reno. Jim Zietz/University Relations

Ceppos took over for John Maxwell Hamilton, now the university's executive vice chancellor and provost, after spending the previous three years as dean, professor and Fred W. Smith Chair in Journalism at the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno.

"This is the opportunity to work at a five-star journalism school," said Ceppos. "It can be hard to distinguish between the characteristics of some schools, but the Manship School intersects media and public affairs in such a unique way that I really couldn't pass it up."

Prior to joining the University of Nevada, Reno, Ceppos served as a fellow in media ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University in 2007, following a 30-year career in the newspaper business, including six as as vice president for news at Knight Ridder, which was then the second-largest newspaper publisher in the country. In that role, he oversaw news and editorial-page content, set quality and ethical standards, identified and recruited top editors, and diversified the newsrooms of the company's 32 daily newspapers. He had direct responsibility for the Washington and foreign bureaus and was one of eight members of Knight Ridder's Management Committee. Ceppos also previously served as executive editor and senior vice president, managing editor and associate editor of the San Jose Mercury News.  He has also worked for The Miami Herald and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

In that time, Ceppos has seen mass media evolve from the morning newspaper as the dominant medium, to television, the internet and now up-to-the-minute updates via social media.

"One of the things I hope we can do here at the Manship school is to emphasize those changes," he said. "I want our students to understand how to work on every platform, whether it's print, broadcast, web or social, because once they get out in the field, doing one thing isn't enough anymore."

He added that political communication is one area where this type of diversity is increasingly important.

The mission of the Manship School is to produce highly competent communicators with broad knowledge and training in the liberal arts and the media. The school promotes effective communication, critical thinking and ethical responsibility. Through its teaching, research, and public service, the school is committed to leading the study and practice of media and public affairs. Believing that media should reflect and provide leadership to society, the school seeks diversity in its outlook, student body, faculty and staff.

"Ten years ago, would anybody have guessed the President would be doing something called 'tweeting'?" Ceppos noted.

Political communication is a cornerstone to the Manship School, which is the only school in the country that offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in media and public affairs.

Two other areas that Ceppos sees the future of mass communication education heading into are journalistic entrepreneurship and media literacy. On the former, Ceppos notes that in his many years living near Silicon Valley he saw how good ideas could explode into cultural phenomena very quickly.

"When I see tablet devices like the iPad, that may be the thing that saves the newspaper industry," Ceppos said. "Our students need to be working to develop things like apps for those platforms."

When it comes to media literacy, the new dean believes that the public is growing increasingly hungry for knowledge in that area. The Manship School is home to the Wendell Gray Switzer Chair in Media Literacy, a position that Ceppos hopes to expand upon.

"Hundreds of non-mass-communication majors take our intro media literacy course here," he said. "That tells me there's a market for people who want to learn how to evaluate the coverage they're receiving for themselves. Are we satisfied with that being something that we only deal with in an introductory course, or should it be its own topic?"

Ceppos has taught and co-taught courses in journalism, media and politics, media management, and mass communication at Santa Clara University, San Jose State University and the University of Nevada, Reno, and is an expert in media ethics.

For nearly 20 years, including six as president, Ceppos has served on the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications, which sets standards for university journalism programs. He twice was president of the California Society of Newspaper Editors, and he now serves on the boards of the First Amendment Coalition and the Student Press Law Center. He also is a member of the Board of Visitors of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, from which he graduated.  He was honored as a distinguished alumnus of the university in 2001.

Ceppos has served as a Pulitzer Prize juror and has racked up a list of awards and accolades for his work as both a journalist and an educator. He and his wife, Karen, have two college-aged children.

For nearly 100 years, the Manship School has been on the forefront of media education. With concentrations in print and broadcast journalism, advertising, public relations and political communication, the Manship School is home to approximately 720 undergraduate and graduate students. The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and dMass Communication reaccredited the school in 2010. Underpinning the school's strength in media and public affairs is its Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs which sponsors annual symposia, surveys, public policy fellows and publishes a book series, Media & Public Affairs. The school's research facility serves as a university and state resource for securing grants and advancing research. It enjoys a productive relationship with the Department of Political Science. Additionally, the Manship School has LSU Student Media, which consists of The Daily Reveille, Tiger TV, KLSU-FM, Legacy magazine and the Gumbo yearbook, since 2008.