Kathleen Hansen is a professor and director of undergraduate studies at the School of Journalism & Mass Communication. She received her M.L.S. and M.A. degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her research centers around the preservation of digital and print news archives, information access and serious games in the news. Here, we learn more about her research and her role at SJMC.
You've been with SJMC more than 30 years. What's changed the most?
I was hired to teach a course on gathering and evaluating information. In terms of tools and resources, that field has completely changed. I started teaching that course before the Internet! But students both then and now don't fully grasp what goes into creating a message. The research and diligence that goes into a story or an ad concept is ignored by many. There's a misconception that it's all about creativity. While yes, that's a part of it, the creativity has to be rooted in research.
You recently developed a course on digital gaming. What will students learn?
The course is really about storytelling, commerce and play. This is an area where mass communication researchers have a stake in the ground because it's a form of communication. Brands, political campaigns and activists are all using gaming to send ads based on what game you're playing and what location you're in. Games as stories and the gamification of news are other issues.
As DUS, you're in-charge of SJMC's curriculum. How does the curriculum reflect industry standards?
While we aren't servants to the industry, we have to look at what is going on in the industry and get in front of what's next. We want our students to go into the field knowing how they can bring this to their organizations.
How do you continue to focus on archiving in your research?
[Fellow SJMC faculty member] Nora Paul and I are editing a special edition of the Newspaper Research Journal all about archiving in the digital age. In the issue, we're including a study of the archiving practices of 10 major news organizations around the country. We're finding that with digital, archiving is lost. Going forward, it is going to be easier to find an article from 1814 than from 2014!
You recently received the Tate Award for Advising. How has advising students affected your work?
I've learned as much from students as they have learned from me. It's simple: from working with students, I've learned how to work with students. Every interaction helps you understand your next interaction.