Members of the WANE 15 staff are stepping out of the newsroom and into the classroom here at Taylor University.
Since the beginning of the school year, multiple WANE 15 employees have started teaching in TU’s journalism department: those include Joe Carroll, Jenna Huff and Dirk Rowley. Carroll serves as the digital director at WANE 15, Huff is the news director, and Rowley handles nightly anchoring duties.
All of them desire to nurture and assist the next wave of journalists.
“I feel like we have a lot to give and a lot to show interested students,” Huff said.
During the fall semester, a small group of students in the communication department took broadcast news and web producing, a new class taught by both Huff and Carroll. For the first half of the semester, the students stayed on campus.
But for the second half of the semester, the format shifted with the class moving to the WANE 15 studios.
Students had the opportunity to see how a professional newsroom operates and become more familiar with all of the moving parts involved in live TV.
Alan Blanchard, associate professor of journalism, said, “WANE 15 adjunct instructors have been an invaluable addition to our journalism program.”
Huff said she’s grateful the university was willing to be flexible. As the newsroom director at WANE 15, she knows the classroom can’t teach students everything they need to know.
“What we do is very unique, and you can’t learn it in a book,” Huff said.
Huff enjoyed giving students a hands-on, behind the curtain experience, and an experience students don’t always have access to.
While Taylor University might have been unfamiliar territory for Huff and Carroll, that’s not the case for Rowley, who this semester is teaching Intro to Multimedia Storytelling.
Rowley is an Upland native who graduated with a degree in mass communication from Taylor in 1989.
“I kind of liked the idea of specifically coming back to Taylor,” he said.
Although he said between the cost of gas and the mandatory Ivanhoe’s visits, he might actually be losing money. (For those wondering, Rowley’s go-to is the grilled chicken sandwich with a side of tater tots. A strawberry shake with banana slices satisfies his sweet tooth.)
And while the chance to reconnect with old friends and places has been fun, Rowley also understands he needs to advocate for his profession. Rowley said there are fewer and fewer individuals willing to serve and inform communities with their storytelling.
“I would say it’s a service,” he said.
At the same time, Rowley understands the constant grind that is the television news industry. It’s a lot of long hours with typically not a lot of pay.
According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary of a news reporter in Indiana is just shy of $29,000.
He said you don’t get into the job for the paycheck.
But for those who don’t mind the hours and pay, Huff, Carroll and Rowley are ready to engage.
Huff is hopeful the broadcast news and web producing class can continue to be offered.
“If I have something to give to the next generation, I’m here to give it,” she said.