Bachelor of Arts in Digital Media Design Program Page

Digital Media Professions: Unlocking the Power of Words

Ever wonder what it’s like to wield the power of words in a world awash with information? Join me, Kimberly King, as we navigate the vast seas of communication careers with the seasoned expertise of Dr. Gillian Silver and Dr. Steven Van Hook. These communication virtuosos guide us through the academic rigors and historical tapestries that give shape to the modern communicator’s role, all while sharing the thrill of crafting narratives that resonate with society.

Strap in as we dissect the dynamic and sometimes murky waters of social media and journalism. Our conversation ventures into the realm of authenticity, the influence of digital titans, and the ethical tightropes walked by professionals in the field. The landscape of media is evolving, and with it, the pathways for storytellers are multiplying. We shine a spotlight on the importance of a robust communications education that arms the intellect with critical thinking skills and the heart with the courage to speak out.

Closing the curtain on this episode, we pay homage to the unsung heroes in the trenches of communication. From the guardians of credibility to the shapers of our shared reality, communication professionals bear a weighty responsibility. Dr. Silver, Dr. Van Hook, and I offer up pearls of wisdom for the next generation of communicators, emphasizing how the fabric of a well-documented e-portfolio can set them apart in this competitive arena. We’re not just marking time; we’re marking history. Join us for a celebration of the communicator’s journey and their indelible imprint on the narrative of our lives.

  • 0:01:03 – Communications Experts Share Their Experience (102 Seconds)
  • 0:05:10 – Passion and Mission in Communication (95 Seconds)
  • 0:14:11 – Graduate Level Professional Development Skills (117 Seconds)
  • 0:17:35 – Key Takeaways from Degree Experience (103 Seconds)
  • 0:24:11 – Evolution of Journalism in the US (108 Seconds)
  • 0:27:53 – Impact of Citizen Journalism (94 Seconds)
  • 0:33:23 – Career Advice (88 Seconds)
  • 0:37:29 – Challenges of User-Generated Content (151 Seconds)
  • 0:44:53 – The Evolution of Communication and Information (122 Seconds)
  • 0:59:06 – The Value of Communication Careers (49 Seconds)

0:00:01 – Announcer

You are listening to the National University Podcast.

0:00:10 – Kimberly King

Hello, I’m Kimberly King. Welcome to the National University Podcast, where we offer a holistic approach to student support, well-being and success- the whole human education. We put passion into practice by offering accessible, achievable higher education to lifelong learners. Today we are discussing the communications field, something near and dear to my heart. On today’s episode, we’re talking to two doctors featured at National University. Stay tuned on this. But according to Forbes advisor, what can you do with a communications degree? This degree can prepare you for so many career paths, including editor, public relations specialist, writer, social media manager and spokesperson. The communication field is broad, encompassing jobs in journalism, business roles and marketing careers, among so many other professions. Take a listen to today’s very interesting show. On today’s episode, we’re talking about the communications field, and we have two guests joining us today.

Dr. Gillian Silver is a highly accomplished integrated marketing communications professional. She holds a doctorate degree in organizational leadership, a master’s in management, organizational behavior, and a bachelor’s in journalism. Additionally, she’s achieved the prestigious accredited business communicator designation. In addition to teaching at the doctorate, graduate, and undergraduate levels, she is the managing partner at Strategic Resources Consulting Group, LLC. Dr. Silver has earned nearly 800 professional awards for crisis communications projects, public relations campaigns, and news feature writing.

Also with us is Doctor Steven Van Hook. Dr. Van Hook has taught various communication courses at UCLA, California Lutheran University, Antioch University, National University and elsewhere. He’s also been a newspaper columnist, radio reporter, tv news anchor and international podcast host. He has designed and taught communication and culture classes for universities in the US and abroad for 25 years, including one of the first hybrid virtual courses for the international program at UCSB in 2000. He was a television producer and bureau chief in Moscow, USSR, from 1989 to 1991, and for three years directed public education media programs in Ukraine. Through the United States Agency for International Development, he has served as a trainer and officer for organizations including Vista, Head Start and the US Coast Guard. Wow, impressive, welcome to today’s podcast. How are you?

0:02:49 – Doctor Steven Van Hook

So glad to be here, thank you, Kimberly.

0:02:54 – Kimberly King

Absolutely. Your backgrounds- Both of you are quite impressive and I’m super excited to interview both of you today Before we get to today’s podcast. Why don’t you fill our audience in a little bit on your mission and your work before we get to the podcast?

0:03:09 – Doctor Gillian Silver

Thank, you, Kimberly. For as long as I could remember, all I wanted to do was write. I was a child who was writing articles, at six years of age, and going to the local paper and saying what does it take to be a journalist? What kind of overture do I need to make to get in the door and began as a teen reporter, went on to obviously get a journalism degree and worked in investigative reporting and did voiceover work. For me, communications is so crucial. It’s about keeping those avenues of connection open between individuals and, for our students, it’s about helping them to express to the various constituencies with whom they work the common messages of their organizations, how their companies are trying to make a difference, hopefully one beyond just profit, but one of social contribution, one of development for their communities. And telling that story takes a tremendous amount of detail and nuance, and everyone takes for granted that communications isn’t instantaneous, and it isn’t so I guess that’s my mission in that job trying to help them express.

0:04:26 – Kimberly King

I love it. No, and I can feel and hear your passion and I love that you’re starting at the ripe age of six years old. Good for you.

0:04:36 – Doctor Gillian Silver

You don’t know what to do with your life, but the thing that interests you and it provides that center of focus. And all these years later, the whole process of helping students to recognize the power of having that voice and expressing those messages is still as fascinating to me.

0:04:57 – Kimberly King

Good for you. We need those strong professional voices, especially when we have these up and coming. You know students and we need to teach them the old ways, I think the classic ways. And so tell me a little bit about you, Dr. Van Hook. What about your passion and mission?

0:05:15 – Doctor Steven Van Hook

If I wasn’t already a communicator, I’d want to become one. Thank you for that. I have been teaching communication courses now for about 25 years. Before that, I spent a decade as a journalist, which is a real common for people in the communication field start out working as a journalist and they get hungry and try to move on. Before that, I worked as a social worker. And journalism, social work and teaching they all take the same basic skills, which is can you connect with somebody, can you give them a resonant message that hopefully, is going to take them someplace new, and if you can do that, you’re going to succeed as a communicator. You’re going to succeed as a human being, I think. And just looking at the people in this room right now we’re all professional communicators and look at the enthusiasm and the joy we get out of living in this field. That right there, I think, speaks for itself. Why does it such a great field to get into?

0:06:11 – Kimberly King

Good for you. I love it. And boy National University is in great hands with both of you. So again, thank you for your impressive background, but again, the passion that you bring and teaching these students the art of communication. Today we are talking about communications and how to succeed or find a job in the communications field, and really it’s so broad now, isn’t it with this new medium of podcasting, but in YouTube. So when we all started it looked like it was print, TV, and radio. But my how we’ve grown, hasn’t that true? So, Dr. Silver, I’m going to start with you. Why is it important to study the field of communications from an academic vantage point.

0:06:50 – Doctor Gillian Silver

I think it comes down to understanding some of those embedded theories and the history of communications. We often talk about the professional journalist as being a member of the fourth estate, and students need to acknowledge that that is a unique role because they are both functioning as a member of society and outside of society to offer commentary. The professional journalist is bringing a variety of academic and critical thinking skills to the table, and that helps them to express ideas with accuracy. When we look at the emerging media, social media influencers they don’t always bring that same preparatory base or that level of discipline to the table, so they may not have the same ethical commitment to honoring the truth or telling the whole story with balance and objectivity.

0:07:47 – Kimberly King

That seems what’s missing these days, doesn’t it? It seems that it’s very opinion based and just that objectivity, as you’re saying, the balance news, and even though people try, it’s just so unbalanced these days. So tell me a little bit about that idea of information, Dr. Silver.

0:08:05 – Doctor Gillian Silver

Well, we are also getting continuously bombarded with information from so many sources. I’m a voracious reader of news, Kimberly. I’m guessing that you and Dr. Steven are as well. The reality of it is that if you are interested in information, you’re going to seek it out from a variety of sources, some of which have more legitimacy, some of which are more casually assembled. So part of what we need to do is discern what has integrity, and as we get bombarded with all of this information clutter, it’s very difficult sometimes to have the ability to do the research and determine what information is accurate and truthful. So, for example, if we’re looking at the economy, reading from one source or watching one television episode is not enough to tell us what’s going on. We need to look at multitude of sources to compare them and see how the story is being covered, to try to get to what the real facts are.

0:09:08 – Kimberly King

That is so true and it really goes down to critical thinking and that skill set seems to be missing and a lot of journalism, and just in the university. So I love that you both are in place to really exercise that muscle of critical thinking and looking into other avenues. Dr. Van Hook, what do I actually learn in a university communication program?

0:09:33 – Doctor Steven Van Hook

Well, I’ve got to tell you, I think it is one of the most versatile degrees that you can possibly get. I’ve earned four degrees now, but by far the most flexible and versatile degree has been my master’s in communications, and it takes less than two years to get that bang for the buck. I don’t think there’s any better degree out there. I’ll tell you good communication skills they are essential, and just about every management job you’re ever going to get and hire and just about every field you can imagine government, industry, nonprofit, corporate media they all need good communicators. There’s a fascinating article in Fortune magazine. It’s the February 9th. It talks about all the skills that employers are looking for. Right now. Communication typically is at the very top and it’s hard for them to find good communicators. And let me tell you, I teach both undergrad and graduate courses in communications and the basics of communication actually are quite simple. There’s just three easy concepts you need to master. Who are you talking to? There’s your demographic information. What messages are going to resonate with your audience? That’s where the artistry comes in. And then, what medium are you going to use to connect to your audience? And if you can answer just these three questions, your communication campaign is well underway. The rest of it, now, is just learning the tactics and the measures and how to apply your skills. And that’s what a communication degree is for.

And not to oversimplify- But really, once you’ve learned some theoretical basics, much of the rest of this is just practice and specialization. You might take courses in communications, journalism, public relations, advertising, social media, marketing. These are all communication courses. Cross-cultural relations- that’s the area of my expertise. If you can specialize in culture, cultural communications these days, boy is there a wide open niche and they all come back to the fundamental skills. It’s connecting with people where they’re at and then taking them some place new, and communication, social work, education- That’s why I think we have a room of such happy, joyful people today, because it’s just that kind of work that you’re doing. You’re connecting with the world, you’re lifting people up and it’s a wonderful way to go to sleep at the end of the day is feeling like you’ve somehow connected and made things better.

0:12:06 – Kimberly King

I love that. That’s so terrific and, again, it really is an art form. So, as you say, you received your masters in communications. I mean that is true. I mean when you hear just in the world, when you see on TV and you see it in a podcast, just the way people are communicating and I know because you’re professionals, it’s almost like fingernails on a chalkboard when you hear something and you just get so I wish I could be there to help formulate what they’re trying to say. So this is terrific that you have this. What makes the National University Strategic Communications Master’s degree so unique, Dr. Van Hook?

0:12:49 – Doctor Steven Van Hook

I’d have to say, first of all, it’s a very accelerated program. Our master’s courses run about four weeks long and they really expect these students to deeply immerse into the subject matter. It’s like you’re living these courses for four weeks and I think that’s a wonderful way to learn. Some people might appreciate a slower approach, where you get to mull and think about it, but I think that in particular it’s this accelerated immersion kind of course, where you live and breathe the subject. You take one course at a time, so that right there, I think, adds something very special to it.

And on top of that we are dealing with an older student, not your traditional kind of student. So typically our students coming in they’re older students. They’re already in the working world quite often, some of them quite advanced in the working world, already holding professional communications jobs, but they come in to refine their skills. So I would say it’s the immersion aspect of it. It’s the classmates, the colleagues that you’re interacting with, or at a very different level, they’re very serious, they know what they want to do and they’re working to get it done. And that right there makes it, I think, a more focused, a valuable kind of learning experience. I know you’ve had quite a bit of experience with our students as well.

0:14:15 – Kimberly King

Yes, do you have anything to add on that?

0:14:17 – Doctor Gillian Silver

Well, I love the fact that at the graduate level it’s all about transfer and application. So students are learning about how to put what they have gained in their assignments, in our conversations, through our live chats, directly into action. They’re learning about new concepts, but they’re really developing analytical skills, and that is another set of attributes that are very beneficial to them professionally as well as personally, because we need problem solvers in business. We need people who can dig deep and do the research and get to the heart of the matter and then, to capitalize on what Dr. Steve was saying, it’s about then developing a message that’s relative to the stakeholders with whom that organization is communicating. So our students take what they learn in the classroom and the next day can put it to work in their office, and it really helps them to advance professionally. But, more importantly, it helps them to create a message campaign of consistency and sincerity for the organizations that they represent.

0:15:26 – Kimberly King

That’s such a great skill as well, because, again, in this day and age it seems, especially with the younger. So I love that you said that these are a lot. Some of these students are older, they’re adults, they’ve been established, but I feel like sometimes in the younger set, because of social media, it’s really so arrows inward, right, me, me, me, rather than what you’re explaining in a communications degree. It doesn’t have to be about me, me, me, but about the organizations that you’re representing, whether it be nonprofit government and outside of that. So it really is telling their story rather than our story, which it feels like these kids these days. You know we want to again push those arrows outward.

0:16:08 – Doctor Gillian Silver

And Kim, I’m going to jump in at this moment. We have classes that evaluate social media from that same position of strategy. How much information is formulated? How much is truthful? What do we know about influencers? How many of them are on someone’s payroll to be a product ambassador? And we also have a legal and ethics class, where we talk about the regulations and ethical considerations that exist when we communicate, so that we engage in these activities in not only a fruitful way, but a highly responsible way.

0:16:42 – Kimberly King

Will you come back and talk about that in the future, because that’s fascinating and I think that that message needs to be heard. What a good – good for you for teaching that and having that available.

0:16:54 – Doctor Gillian Silver

Really, we’re all consumers of information, so for when you consume it, we should know whether it has merit, and we should be very selective in what we believe and accept as true.

0:17:07 – Kimberly King

And it seems like back in the day we just bought it right. It was just because we had truthful, that we thought you know people telling the news or there was really only a limited amount of resources. But, as you say, I mean we really do have to be selective and know how to critically ask those questions to find out if it’s fair and balanced, if it’s legal, what is behind that. You know, who’s paying for them, as you say, with these influencers. So what are the key takeaways, Dr. Silver, from the degree experience?

0:17:39 – Doctor Gillian Silver

Oh my gosh. I’m going to support what Dr. Steven said. We are creating informed individuals who are able to participate in a different way, both corporately and as members of society. We are building critical thinkers, not people who tear things about to be a critic, but who use intellectual assessment to determine what information has validity, has reliability, and we’re also, on a personal level, helping people to understand how to make those very vital connections with each other.

0:18:20 – Kimberly King

Very good. And no, I think this is again. I think the best time is the present that you’re teaching this and putting this out there.

0:18:30 – Doctor Steven Van Hook

If I could add to that just the point of what they’re taking away with this degree. If you saw the Wizard of Oz, remember the Scarecrow when he finally, he was always smart all along. He just never had the diploma. And here’s a funny thing you notice this in the students say come in. They already have bright ideas, quick minds, very expressive, but they’re lacking in that self-confidence. And that, I think, is what the degree does. It’s the gold star on your chart that certifies that you have the abilities that you knew you had all along, and they just need the credentials sometimes. That’s all.

0:19:10 – Kimberly King

You make me want to go out and get my master’s in communications. Now I’m thinking about it. I’m going to join your club. I love that. So, Dr. Van Hook, how might I first break into work as a journalist?

0:19:24 – Doctor Steven Van Hook

Oh, we have a room here full of former journalists. You know just how hard it has always been to break into the field and it’s only gotten harder over the decades. Newspapers and magazines are folding. Local radio is pretty much gone. Isn’t that sad? Outside of the cities and television stations…

So the bad news is a traditional reporter’s job is a rare score, but they are out there if you work at it. Right now. Media opportunities they’ve never been more democratic and merit-based. The cost of entry into media is almost nil. You can have a YouTube channel, LinkedIn. You become a social media influencer, launch your own website. It’s fairly easy to do, to get out there and establish your credentials with a portfolio of examples. So these are foundational steps anyone can take, and cheaply or free, and that’s the good news. The bad news is well, anyone can do it, and that makes it hard to stand out sometimes, and a lot of bad people are out there doing it. You know that’s true.

Let me share one of my favorite tips for you. If you’re getting in and you’re wondering what should I be covering, go ahead, take a look at what books are selling on Amazon. What are the best sellers? Well, there is current and valuable data of what people are thinking about talking about. So work your topics around this. If you’re going to start a podcast, so check out what keywords are popping up when you search a topic. Well, those are the kinds of words that people are searching on. So that’ll give you some additional ideas- what you might develop in story, ideas that are going to connect with people.

You can call in radio talk shows and practice those kind of skills. You can write letters to the editor and opinion pieces for your local newspaper. You can write organization newsletters. Well, there’s an easy publishing credit. Or you can become a public radio station volunteer. They’re always looking for those. I produced a drive-time newscast as a volunteer because nobody else wanted to get up at six in the morning to do it, five in the morning. So there are opportunities out there. Public access on cable. If you’re a student right now, you can write for a student newspaper or a member of your organization. Lots of ways that you can go and try to find a foothold in here.

0:21:49 – Kimberly King

I love that. That’s so- great advice and I know that again that framework has changed so much, but the opportunities really are available. You kind of answered this a little earlier about what other jobs might be available to the skilled communicator, but how do we get those? You mentioned government nonprofit, but if it’s not just a journalist, what other jobs and how do people get those?

0:22:15 – Doctor Steven Van Hook

Well, journalism is always a good start, by the way. It’s always a good item to have on your resume. If you can get some kind of experience in a public forum, even if it’s just a public radio, they can be the hardest jobs to get, ironically, and also the lowest pay for working ungodly hours, you know, that’s true, but what you do is you pay your dues and you learn how to crank out copy in minutes rather than weeks. I always laugh when somebody tells me it’s going to take me a week to prepare this report, because as a journalist, boy, do you learn how to crank out copy. Journalists, then they often turn to public relations or lobbying or teaching or other communication jobs that make a real living in. A journalism position is a really good leap into that, whether it’s in media or government, corporate, nonprofit, international affairs. There’s lots of positions out there that are hungry for skilled communicators. If it’s your passion and you bring that to the job, I guarantee you will find something sooner or later that’s going to put your talents to work.

0:23:21 – Kimberly King

Great, yep, it is so true. And it’s funny because now I have a PR agency, so I went from being a journalist to going you know what I got to make some money here.

0:23:32 – Doctor Steven Van Hook

So I’m working better, Kimberly, are you working better hours these days?

0:23:35 – Kimberly King

I was just going to say. I used to wake up at 2:30. I had to be on the air at 4:30. And then when I first started, we talked about paying your dues. I was a traffic reporter, so I did the morning drive in the helicopter and then the afternoon, so I did a split shift. And who wants to work that this day and age, right? Now, that was put up at home.

0:23:52 – Doctor Steven Van Hook

It just sounds so thrilling there, but in reality I’ll work pretty much as work when you get there, right?

0:24:01 – Kimberly King

Now I kept saying in the beginning am I really getting paid for this? How much fun. But then all of a sudden those hours kicked in and I’m like, oh boy, next job. [laughs]. But, Dr. Silver, can you share some insight into the historical underpinnings of journalism?

0:24:16 – Doctor Gillian Silver

I really am an advocate for the First Amendment. And if we look at journalism within the United States, we’ve had a very instrumental impact. It began with the penny press and the right of the common person to hear the developments of the day, and even if people were not literate, they did not have the opportunity to learn how to read and to write. Producing content meant that other people could read it to them, and they could become well informed, and these messages then started spreading through society. If we look further into the history of communications development, we then saw the creation of the muck-raking journalist, who was looking at societal challenges such as people being unfairly supervised at work, which would result in injury or death or not being compensated correctly. So journalists played a very significant role in the development of unions within the United States. Another splinter was the creation of public relations, the idea that corporations needed representation. Some of them needed it because they were doing things that were unsavory and needed explanation and protection, and some of them needed it because they were making contributions that were very significant.

Now, flash all the way forward to Walter Cronkite and some of those more recent historical leaders. We saw the emergence of broadcast journalism, going out into the war field and sharing information in real time and helping to take away that sanitized image of what conflicts really look like.

When we look at all these different aspects of the communication function, they’re all centralized around three basic intentions. The first one is simply to inform, to share information in kind of a neutral way. The second is to educate, which is the focus of a graduate program, to educate people about the nuances of the work that they will do, the positive and the negative, about the transferability of that knowledge. And then the last part is the somewhat prickly side, which is the intention of persuasion, helping people to actually use their intellectual processing skills to determine what is actually correct, what is truthful and what might be contaminated information. So the United States has a really elaborately developed, interconnected history in which we’ve always honored communications. But the way we’ve executed the function and the way people as professionals have provided these services to society has changed. And I think that the evolution is only going to continue to be fostered with new ways of looking at social media, influencers, citizen-related journalism, where anybody as Dr. Steven said, can articulate a position and help spread information.

0:27:26 – Kimberly King

Right, that’s so true. I love that and that little moment of history there, as the penny press. I think you said. Talk about the elements of newsworthiness and if you can expand on that concept. Thank you, Kimberly.

0:27:42 – Doctor Gillian Silver

Well, essentially, this is the whole space that social media and influencers work in. It’s about finding something that’s really developing around us this moment. We just had this conversation in my crisis communications class last night, because now anybody with a phone can be a journalist. They don’t have to have a degree, they don’t have to have time on the ground, they don’t need to have some of these form-life skill development experiences. They can push record and they can contribute a story.

We were talking about an airline that had a mid-flight disaster. Long before the Boeing wing was detaching from the fuselage a couple of years ago, there was a gentleman who noticed everybody was boring into him with their eyes. He knew that he was the center of attention and finally he realized it wasn’t really him. It was a spot above his head and he looked up to the top of the plane and realized there was a tear in the fuselage. Before the plane landed, he had captured footage in real time, and it was on the ground and all over the media.

It started going through AP Newswire before the airline even had an opportunity to provide explanation or, I would hope, some statement of accountability. So this is a person who hasn’t had any training or preparation, who’s capitalizing on technology. So these are the dilemmas that we’re facing now. In that case, it was accurate information, it was a person’s lived experience, but in some cases, as you noted earlier, a person’s lived experience is coming because they’re being paid to wear a certain designer or because they have fostered a certain opinion without doing research. So I always return to the fundamental need for accountability. If we’re going to take this wonderful opportunity that we have, this privilege of communicating, don’t we also have an obligation to validate what we know and to understand whether it’s truth? Amen.

0:29:50 – Kimberly King

I would say to you that’s great, and I believe that 100 percent it is. We’re in that wild, wild West period. It feels like where we are. We really do need to come back to some traditional ways of making sure that truth is being told, and it is a privilege to be able to communicate, so I love what you’re saying. This is such great information. It’s one of my favorite shows and we all speak this language, so we have to take a quick break, so just don’t go anywhere. We’ll be back in just a moment. And now back to our interview with National University’s Dr. Doctor Steven Van Hook and Dr. Gillian Silver, and we’re discussing the fascinating world of communications. We were saying that communicating is an art and a privilege, and so I’m going to come back to you, Dr. Van Hook. What is life like for a journalist and how different are other communications jobs?

0:30:42 – Doctor Steven Van Hook

Well, we’ve been talking about that a little bit, since our room is full of a former journalist today. We all know how hard a reporting job a regular reporting job I’d say eight to five, but in September, you know, it’s more like two AM to midnight. A regular reporting job where you get a paycheck and you have an editor and your reporting is accurate and precise. Well, those are hard jobs to get. First of all, you have to learn how to steer with your elbows while making notes and eating your lunch to go.

It’s long hours, it’s short weekends, no holidays that I can recall, and you always- this is the hardest part you always feel like you’re on the edge of trouble with a missed deadline or a misquote. You have this constant churn in the belly that when you make a mistake in communications, it’s a big one and people notice. Everybody’s nodding their head. I’m sorry you can’t see this in the listening audience, but there is an enthusiastic yes in the room. In Soviet Russia, they were killing journalists and confiscating gear. But you know, I loved it there. It was hard to beat in terms of excitement and engagement and you get paid to travel. But then you compare that with other communication jobs, government affairs, public relations, education, you have better pay, much better hours, you get holidays off and you’re still using the same basic skills of a reporter. It may not be as thrilling, but it is grown up work, isn’t it?

0:32:12 – Kimberly King

It is true, and I love that. I keep thinking you need to write a country song because you’re very descriptive and driving with your elbows. I love that. You really nailed it. So can you expand a little bit, Dr. Van Hook, on the ability to travel and get paid to have a job in international communications?

0:32:33 – Doctor Steven Van Hook

Oh well, that is the truly wonderful part of it. You get to travel overseas, you get to fly in a helicopter, Kimberly what wonderful experience that is. Alan Watts- he’s a philosopher, writer. He asks, what would you do if money weren’t the object? And if you can answer that, I want to travel, I want to see the world. Well, there’s ways to do it, first of all. Well, here’s some tips that work with international students. They’re so hungry to connect with Americans and language tutoring. Or maybe serve as a host factory, a host family. It’s the next best thing to travel and they actually, they pay the airfare. Most importantly, I advise my students learn another language, learn two, learn three. That right there is going to put you far above the community, your competition.

I studied Russian 10 years earlier in college, only because a girlfriend wanted me to, but that is what ultimately got me a bureau chief in Russia, competing against network people. But I was the only one who applied that had Russian language skills on my resume. So pick an odd language that a lot of people aren’t studying. You know the Middle Eastern languages, the Slavic languages, Chinese, Japanese, Korean those are good languages. Spanish, French, everybody speaks those. So that’s my best tip Study a foreign language and you’re also. You’re going to love it. The best job is a foreign bureau chief, where the bosses are in a different country and they’re sleeping in a different time zone. If you want to travel, I’ll tell you that’s the best way to go. If you’re used to working independently and you’re not afraid of being alone with a crew, there’s no better job in the world than international journalists.

0:34:21 – Kimberly King

I love it. I love that you’ve opened that window up and really shared your expertise there. And, it’s funny, I had an old boyfriend that wanted me to take Italian, so I can only still speak a little bit, but wouldn’t that be fabulous to go there and become a bureau chief? That’d be amazing.

0:34:37 – Doctor Steven Van Hook

Is it on your resume?

0:34:40 – Kimberly King

No, but you just made me think about that. Maybe I need to put that out there. Send me, So, Dr. Silver, how is social media shaping communication? We talked a little bit about this, but if you can expand on that, the primary way is expediency and delivery, lots of information being pushed out immediately.

0:35:02 – Doctor Gillian Silver

We can certainly talk about filters and distortion. I think that there are some sociological impacts, particularly upon young people in our country, because their idea of beauty isn’t realistic. There’s same people who have been packaged for them. That’s not their real self, and we also package when it comes to information and we’re using these character based snippets to share detail that is much more elaborate and requires much more expansive understanding. So social media is kind of I don’t want to be negative in saying dumbing down, but it’s kind of reducing the caliber of information and many people like the bite size material that they can get, but they don’t make the effort to determine what they haven’t heard yet, what they haven’t seen yet. And to tell you a funny little story last I think it was last summer, it could have been the summer before I was in Portofino, Italy, and I happened to be there at the time the Kardashians were getting married and without their filters they don’t quite look the same.

They’re so beautiful but they’re beautiful, and they’re flawed and they’re not quite as thin as they appear to be. And when I show up to my students they say well, you know, I love Kim and I love Kourtney, and those are my models. And I keep telling them any information that has been packaged for you may not be accurate, may not be complete, and you should evaluate the veracity of it so that you understand what you believe, because if it’s not reliable, then you’re doing a disservice to yourself by accepting it as truth because it isn’t true. So in our classes we get a chance to talk about how communication is distorted in all of its various formats, but social media in particular, I think, has a unique vulnerability.

0:37:05 – Kimberly King

I love that you’re teaching that and that you saw them unfiltered. That should be the headline there. Everybody needs to know. I feel like the filters are showing up earlier and earlier. Can we just get back to what we really look like and sound like and what the truth is? You can see I’m not a big Kardashians fan, so, but don’t get me started. Dr. Silver, what is the downside of user-generated content?

0:37:32 – Doctor Gillian Silver

I think it goes back to the question that you asked me earlier, Kimberly, about what are the credentials, what is the authenticity of the content? If you are picking up a phone and you’re reporting on a story, how are you getting the entire story? How are you going through the process of verifying the information? Are you making certain that you’re referring to others who have new dimensions to share? A user-generated package of content normally comes from one person’s perception, as we know from the psychology of perception. When we selectively perceive, we’re throwing a lot of it out. We’re choosing only to focus on the things that interest us. When it involves reporting, we should be reporting balanced information that has integrity, and we should let the viewer or the listener make their determination about what they believe and what they need to research independently and what they accept as complete.

0:38:40 – Kimberly King

Good, I love that. Let’s talk a little bit about how does the history of the field shape today’s performance by industry professionals. I’m going to throw that out to you, Dr. Van Hoek.

0:38:54 – Doctor Steven Van Hook

Well, we all walk the roads that others have paved. Walter Cronkite is still a name that resonates deep in my heart. We all stand on the shoulders of giants. I think the lessons of the past still resonate with us, even as we’re using this new technology and if it does get drowned out, sometimes in the chaotic den. But I’ll tell you another trick I use in media relations is I still send out faxes. They stand out, they linger longer and nobody’s using faxes anymore, but they still have fax machines and they actually have to touch it to throw it away. I still use phone calls, and text messages. Even these days are an unusual thing for a lot of people old schools. I do post a little on social media, but I still use the old school communication techniques and not only do they work, but they even stand out these days.

0:39:51 – Kimberly King

I love that and that’s true. I mean, when you say fax, some people may even not just realize what is a fax. What does that mean? Like a typewriter. [laughter].

0:40:03 – Kimberly King

So if I’m a first generation university student without legacy benefits, successful role models or the money, but I do have a passion and some talents, is that enough to succeed?

0:40:15 – Doctor Steven Van Hook

Well I got to tell you. First of all, that’s a lot of our National University students right there. They’re outside of that regular path and you know it’s not an easy position. I know it well. I’m first generation in my family to get a college degree. My mother was the first in her family to graduate high school and we still have a lot of people these days coming into college. You know, I was a dropout high school dropout. I was homeless at 17, and that’s a pretty low place to start. But now here I am. I’m a university professor, I have my doctoral, research has been published by the United Nations and I ran a TV news bureau covering the fall of the Soviet Union. And now here I am talking to you.

So it can be done with just some basic tactics, first of all. First is probably the thing you’ve heard from your grandparents you have to knock on 100 doors, and I bet it’s pretty close to that. Each job I’ve ever gotten I’ve had to knock on 100 doors to get it. I promise, if you have the right skills, one of those doors is eventually going to open. Every no puts you one stop closer to yes, and then what you need to do is, once that door opens, you’ve got to give it all. You’ve got 100% right from the start.

Realizing just one mistake in communication can doom you forever and almost every decision might make a mistake. But if you are ready to step up and meet that head on with the energy and the enthusiasm that I see in all the communicators in this room, that’s what it takes. And you too can’t succeed, and I bet if we went around this room everybody would have a similar story to tell of obstacles to overcome, especially in such a competitive field. But they can be overcome. Just keep knocking, knocking, knocking. Keep account. By the time you’re nearing that 100, you know a door is going to open somewhere, I promise you.

0:42:06 – Kimberly King

I love your enthusiasm and how both inspiring you both are Really. I mean, it’s that’s again really lifting up people when they could be at their lowest, and people I think that’s the difference, I think, from my opinion in social media who’s going to post something super negative that, hey, I’m homeless and you know they’re not going to put the most you know challenging point of their lives out there. They usually only just paste it with oh yeah, here’s the filter, here Everything is happy and wonderful, but you’ve really ripped off the band aid and you’re still lifting them up. So, thank you.

0:42:38 – Doctor Steven Van Hook

I think this is important for that, Kimberly, and if I could just expand just a little more on what you said, you know, I think a key to success is not so much who you know or what you know we hear this all the time. I think, ultimately, what determines your success is what you are. Do you have a voice, do you have a message, do you have a foundation of truth and integrity? And ultimately, I think that’s what’s going to pay off for you, rather than the social climbing that we see happening so much right now.

0:43:08 – Kimberly King

I love it. I love that. It’s so true and needs to be heard. Dr. Silver, how has the field of journalism changed during your career? Oh my gosh, I. How long do we have right?

0:43:23 – Doctor Gillian Silver

I think it used to be easier to be able to knock on those doors that Dr. Steven was talking about. If you had ambition and interest, it was easier to say let me prove myself. Let me write a couple of articles, let me show that I can adapt to your style. I’m a first generation college student as well. I grew up with poverty. My mother and father did not even finish college, finished high school. My mom went back for a GED at 67. And my father was very determined that, as a young woman, I acquire education. And he said intellect is something no one can take from you and it is not lessened because you age or you marry, or you make money or don’t make money. It’s what gives you the ability to prevail, and I thought that was extraordinarily wise information.

So I learned from an early age to make opportunities. I learned that journalism was about constantly honing your skills and being able to provide something, to mirror it to your employer. If I didn’t know how to do something, I dug in and I learned how to do it, and that created adaptability. It meant that I could move across the written platforms to broadcast. It meant that I could move into public relations, because I understood that it was about utility. It was about functioning in a way that brought value to whoever my employer or client might be, and I think that that also relates to our earlier conversations about communicators are expressive people who want those connections to be made in a fruitful way.

Communicators feel deeply that we need to build understanding. They feel that, despite changes in technology and platforms, and whatever the go to approach to messaging might be today, the inherent approach needs to be the same. It’s that genuine human interest in creating meaning and providing explanation and helping people to recognize what information is indeed valid. So I’ve been. I’ve been through it all. I mean I’ve. I’ve done it with electronic computers that were just the first generation a giant room of computers in my college classroom to now texting updates that immediately are uploaded to social media. I think that those are just delivery techniques. I think that’s the most important thing to know that they’re being responsible in everything that they do.

0:46:23 – Kimberly King

The rip and read method back in the day. People don’t even know what that means. Right, you’re running into the newsroom with it, right off the press.

0:46:36 – Doctor Gillian Silver

And it’s just learning between what is accurate and is inaccurate information, and it comes down to again being diversified in your reading and your consumption of information, not being gullible, don’t read one source and believe it’s everything.

0:46:55 – Kimberly King

So true.

0:46:55 – Doctor Gillian Silver

Domestic news, read news from across the international community to find out what really is happening and how other people are viewing the actions of your country. Now that we are embedded in so much conflict in the Middle East and the Ukraine, you cannot just have a narrow scope. You have to have a wide understanding of how those actions are being communicated, how they’re being interpreted, where they’re being criticized, where they’re being upheld.

0:47:28 – Doctor Steven Van Hook

Looking at small.

0:47:30 – Doctor Gillian Silver

It doesn’t help us to understand what the situation really involves.

0:47:35 – Doctor Steven Van Hook

Yeah, so well said, doctor. That gets back to the point. I think ultimately, what determines our success is what we are. You know, as a journalist I’ve been able to interview heads of government and top power brokers and sometimes you got to wonder how did these people ever get to the position that they’re in? They’re no smarter than us, they’re no better than us, they’re not especially insightful or even decent. But here is what they did. They put it on the table, they stepped up, they said, let me give it a try. And the same is true for all our aspiring journalists out there. You got to go to the coach, say, hey, put me in the game. And if not you, why not? And who else is going to step up and do what you are able to do? And I think that gets back to not only do we have to keep ourselves informed and knowledgeable, but we have to keep ourselves decent and on the right path, or we’re going to wind up like so many other people just a quick flash in the pan, hot one day, gone the next.

0:48:39 – Kimberly King

Right and you know it is so good. I think you both have really touched on the In the international community. How do they view us as the Americans and through travel, through reading about other, you know other journalistic capabilities there all across the globe. I was traveling in Italy over the summer and I was at World Youth Day in Portugal and the youth that were talking about just their perspective about the United States. It was really appalling but also truthful. Where are they getting their resources? But just how they view us. I think it’s so important to have that international really foothold and knowing you know what they’re hearing about us as well, so I love that you’re both really bringing this up here. What about? Let’s talk about the responsibility to stakeholders and how does that play into. What does that term mean Stakeholders? Let’s talk with Dr. Silver first.

0:49:43 – Doctor Gillian Silver

All organizations have obligations to the various communities in which they’re operating. So when we talk about social responsibility or being a good corporate citizen, it’s about acknowledging that the organization has to be motivated by more than just making profit. Many CEOs think that that’s their primary accountability. The communication professional acts as a counselor and an advisor, and in many cases, they’re the only representative of all those other stakeholder groups. Now it gets confusing, Kimberly, because we use different terminology. We sometimes talk about them as constituencies in public relations textbooks and we talk about them as audiences and publics in organizational communication, and journalism likes to talk about them as readers and viewers, but there are always a multitude of groups that are following our actions and are judging us. They’re trying to determine whether we’re operating with credibility. So the stakeholders include members of the professional media who are reporting on the organization, those elected officials who are looking to create new regulatory decisions that will impact our operations, the people who are our customers, who are buying our products and services and giving us their goodwill, and I could go on and on, but the most important stakeholder, in my view, would be the team member or the employee, the people who come in and work for us each and every day and give us their goodwill and act as our cheerleaders, and they hope that we are going to be honorable with them. They hope that we’re going to tell them the truth, not disguise anything, not represent anything incorrectly, with intentional falsehood. They want to take pride in the contributions that they make, investing so much of their life and energy in their employment with us.

So the communicator has to have a consciousness of where all these different stakeholders are sitting in terms of their view of the company. They have to represent all of those interests simultaneously, not just the companies, and say to the CEO that they’re advising and counseling. You need to be concerned about how your vendor and supplier is going to react to this news. You need to worry about the residents in our immediate community and how they’re going to view our actions. You have to contemplate that your competitors are going to be worried about whether you’re going to contribute to skepticism that will lead to very complicated laws with which you’ll need to comply in the future. I don’t think there’s another role in corporate America that plays that delicate balance of articulating and guiding and representing the interest of the stakeholders with the level of genuine concern that the communicator has to present.

0:52:53 – Doctor Steven Van Hook

Just a quick thought on that. Talking about stakeholders that a clever student the other day mentioned that well, even our competitors are stakeholders because they have an interest in what we’re doing as well, and I think in this inner interconnected age that everyone we should consider as a stakeholder. Ask not for who in the bell tolls. We all impact each other. We all have a stake in one another’s wellness and failure. Buddha said tug at a blade of grass and you find the world attached. And isn’t that the truth. Any subject we pick at just a little bit, suddenly it opens up into this great field of people impacted by what we do and say.

0:53:34 – Kimberly King

It’s such a great point and I love that, that viewpoint that we’re all stakeholders and everybody really does have a bias. We all have our interests and so we do really need to make that top of mind, that we’re speaking to everyone, not with our own bias. So that’s the old school way that we, we were raised, and when you say, Walter Cronkite, that’s what we feel, I think, is that on my experience.

0:53:59 – Doctor Steven Van Hook

Even our enemies were connected to. Isn’t that true?

0:54:02 – Kimberly King

Right, it’s true, and just really having that critical viewpoint there. What about how can we build on the idea of duty to our audiences and the public, and why is this concept so vital to professional, professional communications? I’m going to ask you that, Dr. Van Hook.

0:54:20 – Doctor Steven Van Hook

Well, I think that people who communicate, they’re the ones who record our present for the future. Isn’t it that we’re the first run at history here? is what they say, the first draft. I think we are the personification of the right to speak and our first amendment protections as journalists, as communicators. I think they’re going to look back on us and they’re going to rely on just how well we passed it forward and I hope we make. I hope we make ourselves worthy.

0:54:52 – Doctor Gillian Silver

I think communication begins and ends with duty. If we look at the characteristics of the traditional journalist, most of the individuals who work in media have a master’s degree. Most of them have an interest in discerning the truth and in being accountable. Duty is represented in the way that we do our jobs. Mass communication means that you’re taking an idea to the masses. You have to verify that information. If you don’t take seriously your professional obligations and you don’t function with ethics, you can do harm to society. Misinformation on creating more clutter without value. That, I think, is very, very detrimental to people, having not only an educational construct of an issue, but it leads to a lack of compassion, it leads to arrogance. Communication is so fundamental to us operating as the human beings we wish to be as credible characters in the world around us, professionally and personally.

0:56:08 – Kimberly King

Great. I’m so proud that both of you are in place and where you are, and really teaching our future. And I love, Dr. Van Hook, what you said recording our present to the future. I mean it’s true when we speak to that, this truth, and being held accountable and, and, Dr. Silver, creating clutter without value. I mean these are such important and sometimes we just go through life without saying it out loud and realizing, looking back and we are affecting what this next generation looks like. So I’m just so glad that you are offering this viewpoint to our future, our future. How do you help students bridge from academic studies to professional performance, Dr. Silver?

0:56:54 – Doctor Gillian Silver

At National University in our strategic communications master’s, we actually utilize something called the e portfolio. So we help our students to create this very portable presentation that demonstrates their skill set and it includes both academic assignments and professional projects. So if they go to a PRSA meeting, they go to a Chamber of Commerce meeting, they can say Kimberly, it was lovely to meet you. If you ever have a need for a guest on your program, here’s a little bit of insight into what I’ve done and so many of our students now are actually functioning in that world as consultant. They’re taking gig jobs, are taking one project at a time. It allows them to be very expedient and to present their capabilities to someone. It’s the next level of a CV or resume because it’s really demonstrative.

0:57:58 – Kimberly King

And so just a question about that and I love that you’re doing that because it is everywhere and because it’s. You know, video is king now, so does that include so in your e portfolio? That would mean a resume, your cover letter, your anything that you’ve done public speaking. I mean, does that kind of cover all of the elements hit on that point.

0:58:17 – Doctor Gillian Silver

It can be very encompassing and it can be my lies. Yes, unique area specialization for the individual. So I have had students who are graphic artists of their portfolio looks very different than somebody who’s operating in broadcast. People who are blogging can have samples of their blogs. If they’ve been handling a social media launch, they can have social media messaging across different platforms. They can have speeches and press releases. They can show the full span of experience that they offer to his perspective employer.

0:58:54 – Kimberly King

Great, wow, good for you. And you’re right, it is next level, and I think you know if you’re teaching your students to graduate with that in hand, wow, they’ve already hit the high marks there, so great. My last question is what guidance might you extend to our listeners, and why does communications remain such a compelling field? We did kind of hit on this in the very beginning. But to wrap things up, Dr. Van Hook, I’m going to toss this one to you.

0:59:19 – Doctor Steven Van Hook

Well, great, well. Communication. It is a top skill that employers are looking for. The data out there proves it and, most importantly, they’re having a hard time finding good communicator. So that’s where you want to be, dear listeners out there. You want to be where there is low supply and high demand, and that’s just good business. It’s a smart career move. I’ve never regretted choosing communications as my field to study, as my field to teach, as my professional career, and I hope someone out there in the audience today can get to say the same thing sometime near in the future.

0:59:57 – Kimberly King

Excellent and Dr. Silver, any last, any thoughts here?

1:00:00 – Doctor Gillian Silver

We advocate of education and I think we need to be greedy about it. Right, we need to live in the world of ideas and constantly be learning and growing and developing. If you have the ability to get a graduate degree, I think it is the most fascinating level of inquiry because it’s not about memorization, it’s about taking the ideas and building the connections and creating the transfer, and it changes the way you think and that’s what we really need right now in contemporary society people who are deep thinkers, people who are analytical, who are able to identify and solve problems. That’s what gives us professional utility and, personally, that’s what gives us enrichment. It allows us to be the best, most fully developed person that we can be, and I like to look at education as an iceberg. This greeting is about- Education is extremely important because, whatever we think, we know, it’s absolutely nothing compared to what there is to learn. I’m reminded every day of the need to be humble and to come in with that learning mentality and to grow from every conversation, every interaction.

1:01:22 – Kimberly King

I love that. And you’re never too. You’re never too old to get your education in place, so I love that was never too old to be humbled. I love to speak with both of you today and again, congratulations for all of the influence that you have and teaching the truth and critical thinking and just the art of communications. I really appreciate you sharing your knowledge and, if you have you want more information, you can visit National University’s website at and thank you both so much for your time today.

1:01:57 – Doctor Steven Van Hook

Thank you, Mike and Kimberly, for making this so enjoyable.

1:02:01 – Kimberly King

Absolutely, thank you. Thank you, you’ve been listening to the National University podcast. For updates on future or past guests, visit us at You can also follow us on social media. Thanks for listening.