J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences
“The Department of Journalism means a great deal to me, and I am thrilled that we can contribute to its continued success with this gift. My hope is that these new facilities will create an engaging environment for students who wish to pursue careers in these fields and allow them to gain valuable experience working in settings that mirror what they will find after graduation.”
- Sue Walk Burnett, B.A. ‘68
A Gateway to Great Journalism
In 2019, University of Arkansas Student Media heads Ashlyn Brothers, Beth Dedman, Alex Nicoll and Chase Reavis broke free of the basement. The four journalists and their peers previously shared a common space in the bottom floor of Kimpel Hall, where they managed and participated in the U of A’s student media outlets — UATV, The Arkansas Traveler newspaper and Hill Magazine.
“There were no windows in the old space,” said Brothers, the 2019-2020 station manager for UATV. “And there was no awareness of us by other students because of the old location.”
Dedman and Reavis, the respective 2019-2020 editors-in-chief for Hill Magazine and The Arkansas Traveler, also worked in the old space through their involvement with the campus’s magazine and student newspaper. Dedman’s assessment of the office was “not functional,” and Reavis described it as “cramped.”
Nicoll, former editor in chief of the Traveler, said they affectionately called the basement space “The Dungeon,” but he describes their new location as “wonderful.”
The new space is the Sue Walk Burnett Journalism and Student Media Center, and it truly is wonderful. Thanks to a $1 million gift from U of A School of Journalism and Strategic Media alumna Sue Walk Burnett and her husband Rusty Burnett, students now have the opportunity to work in a facility that promotes connection and collaboration, as opposed to cramped creativity.
“It feels like a professional news outlet,” Nicoll said.
“We can learn from each other,” Brothers added. “We’re not in silos. We’re allies and can help each other. Plus, people see us! We have windows, which helps us feel connected. People are curious and asking questions. It’s raising awareness.”
Nicoll, who earned an internship at the Houston Chronicle after graduation, said the collaboration he experienced in the new space helped him become a multi-faceted journalist and advanced his skillset for the workforce. He now feels confident that he can go into any situation and have a working knowledge of all forms of journalism.
Brothers sums up the new space by describing it as a gateway. She says it opened her eyes to being a Student Media head and pushed her to be even more excited and passionate about being a journalist.
“I adore the new facility,” she said. “It’s every bit as good as a real live station. It creates lasting friendships and…just…magic. It’s a safe and inclusive environment that allows our creative juices to flow.”
Student Media Heads
Senior Director, Development & External Relations