From the desk of President Leslie K. Guice

Dr. Judith Roberts: Inspiring students while incorporating new media in journalism

May 19, 2014 | Faculty Feature


Judith and doctoral advisor Dr. Xue

Judith Roberts graduated from Louisiana Tech in 2005 with majors in English and journalism. She earned a master’s from Grambling State University in mass communication in 2008, and then finished her Ph.D. in 2013 from the University of Southern Mississippi. Judith earned a minor in Information Technology from USM because she thought learning more about IT would be beneficial in teaching students online.  When asked how these courses helped, Judith noted, “The minor helped on two levels: 1) Since many of my IT classes were either online or hybrid, I, as a student, determined what I liked in terms of how the material was being taught, what I would improve if I were teaching the class (my own personal opinion, of course, ha!), and how I could incorporate some of the same techniques in my clasess. 2) I was able to learn some new ways of bridging IT and communications, which I feel is essential. Communications and journalism touch every aspect of life, and I feel that journalism is a great tool in interdisciplinary work.” Before coming to Tech, I served as reporter and news editor at The Ruston Daily Leader.

Judith with her students and colleagues at a journalism conference

While at Tech, Judith attended an Associated Press Managing Editors NewsTrain workshop to learn about new media technologies. She also serves as faculty adviser for the Tech chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and has won awards for press releases, websites. She won second place as faculty adviser of a student publication from the Louisiana Press Women Association. Judith has presented at various conferences, has been published, and is attending a Poynter teaching seminar this summer where she will learn about the newest trends and technologies involving journalism.

Future Tech Cheerleader Alice Roberts

Judith married her college sweetheart, Kyle, in 2005.  Kyle was also a journalism major is the public relations director for the Center for Children and Families in Monroe. They have a precious daughter, Alice, who was born in March 2013 — two days after Judith’s dissertation was approved by her USM doctoral committee. Judith said, “The big joke was that the day she was born, I was playing on Facebook and put up some status about how my graduation robe was rented, all the papers were signed, and now Alice could come whenever she wanted. I went into labor an hour later. Seriously.” Judith volunteered with Junior Auxiliary in Ruston for six years, serving as chair of various committees and such. She also serves on the scholarship committee at Temple Baptist Church and helps out with their Bible Drill. More recently, Judith signed up to be a CASA (Court Ordered Special Advocate) volunteer — which she hopes can correlate with some scholarly research. Judith said, “That’s the best thing about my field — it covers just about everything. If there’s something I’m interested in, I try to figure out a way to make it a research or service-learning project. For CASA, I want to find out what role a community paper can play in advocacy. But this is still in the very early stages, and I probably won’t be able to start the research until at least the fall.”

Kyle, Judith and Alice

Judith is a devout runner.  Kyle and Judith like to take Alice for walks around the neighborhood and campus, read to her, and take her to local parks. “We’re very fortunate to live somewhere with so many local parks and opportunities to let Alice explore. I also like to swim and read.” Regarding her interests in Journalism education, Judith said, “Journalism is constantly changing, and my role as an educator constantly has to evolve, too, which always keeps things fresh and interesting. One of my favorite things to employ in my practical application classes, such as copy editing or feature writing, is a service-learning project. Again — everyone has to communicate. Everyone needs editors. Everyone needs writers. Our field is perfect for service-learning. I usually change the project up a little from year to year, depending on needs I see or new opportunities, but two of my recent favorites do stand out. For copy editing one year, the students made educational videos for high school students attending Farmerville High School who were revamping their newspaper that hadn’t been published in years. The students and I really enjoyed that project. Also, for feature writing one year, the students were divided into groups, and each group covered a different topic for the entire quarter and published it on a blog for the community to see. One covered the Lives Lost to Alcohol silhouettes that are out on the service road each year, one covered HabiTECH for Humanity, etc. It was just so great to see them cover so many facets on one project and to be involved in the community.”
Kaleb & Allison

Judith had her students do a scavenger hunt for their social media class. They tracked me down for a photo.

Judith incorporates some form of multimedia into every one of her more practical classes. She recognizes that journalists today do so much more than write — they edit, they blog, they tweet, they design, they take videos, they photograph. “Granted, our main focus is on the writing, but they need to have skills in a multitude of areas. It’s just a lot of fun. You get to talk with people, find out information, and then package it for a larger audience.” Tech’s Journalism program has a legacy of great teachers and students. Judith said, “I think all of our faculty members do so well in recruiting quality students and retaining them. Granted, we have great programs and great facilities — but our faculty members care about our students. I genuinely like my students. I want them to succeed, and if I see them struggling, I want to help. I think they know that. I tell all of them that I have the best job in the world — I get to talk about news and I get to talk with students. It doesn’t get any better than this. (In fact, as a side note, apparently I’ve talked so much about how I love my job that one of my students is planning to get his master’s AND Ph.D. in mass com — he wants to teach journalism, too!) JudithKyle&AliceAll of our journalism students know that we love our jobs. We love the field, and we love teaching the students. It’s not fake or forced; we care about our students, and they know it. We’re conducting exit interviews with our graduating seniors right now, and a lot of them mentioned how welcomed they felt in our department. I’m really going to miss them, too. But they’re a great group, and I know they’re going to make our department and Tech proud. I’m already so proud of all of them.”