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Poindexter Is Force Behind News Engagement Day

By WILL CLARK

Dr. Paula M. Poindexter, an associate professor in the School of Journalism, wants young people to engage in real news.

Poindexter is founder of News Engagement Day, an effort designed to encourage millennials to connect with news through social media and mobile news. On Tuesday, professors and students at the School of Journalism and at universities and news outlets around the country will listen to panels, use social media and use the hashtag #newsengagementday to build up awareness for the initiative. Reporting students in J310 are live-blogging the day, interviewing people around campus and producing videos and blog posts about the initiative.

 “The public may think any crap out there is journalism, and it’s just not,” Poindexter said. “Part of the process is not only encouraging the importance of engaging with news and becoming informed but also encouraging the news media to do a better job of helping the public understand what is reliable journalism and to be more transparent.”

 Much of Poindexter’s research has focused on news engagement, and she recently received the Eleanor Blum Distinguished Service to Research Award.  The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication recognized Poindexter for her work promoting excellence in journalism research.

 The award is one of the most prestigious given by AEJMC, with only 14 recipients in 36 years.

“I was very honored, and I was very proud to receive this award,” Poindexter said. “I have done a lot of things to promote research, but not for the purpose of getting an award as much as I felt there was both a need and there was something we should be doing that we weren’t doing.”

UT journalism professor James Tankard won the Blum award in 2006. After he died the following year, Poindexter honored her colleague by proposing the Tankard Book award, which annually recognizes the most outstanding book in the field of journalism and mass communication.

 From founding the Tankard award to creating an international journalism conference in Chile, Poindexter focuses her work on research that helps journalists engage readers.

Poindexter said she hopes News Engagement Day will help build respect and understanding between news media and news consumers.

 “News Engagement Day is one of the most important thigs that we can do,” Poindexter said. “It really speaks to the future of our country, of a democratic society. We really, really have to get [the younger] generation involved in becoming informed about the news. We really do not have a choice.”

Clark is a freshman journalism major.