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Ken Ward joins the comm department

Ken Ward, assistant professor in communication, explains the partisan polarization found in newspapers after the American Revolutionary War to his history of mass communication class. Ken Ward is taking the place of Mark Arbuckle after Arbuckle has retired. Dominic Santiago

Ken Ward will be teaching as an assistant professor with an emphasis on multimedia journalism. 

He graduated from Bethel College with an undergraduate degree. Ward then received his Ph.D. in 2018 from the School of Journalism at Ohio University. After graduation, he became an assistant professor at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. He will be teaching the history of mass communication, the law of mass communication, and photojournalism this semester.

Ward said he enjoys studying the history of journalism and its effects today. 

“I’m a historian and so most of my research is in journalism history,” Ward said. “I specifically researched the journalism of the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains.”

When asked why he chose journalism as his area of study he said, he said it was because of his love of writing. 

“I knew that I wanted to write. And my advisor said, ‘Hey, do you want to make money writing and if so, communications are probably where you want to focus?’ So, I just took more and more classes in that department and didn’t look back,” Ward said.

Ward had many opinions to share with new journalism students and students looking at journalism as a potential area of study.

“There’s a lot to de-incentivize students from going into journalism, right?” Ward said. “I mean, it is a scary industry to go into right now because we’ve lost a lot of jobs… However, I think that we’re actually starting to turn the corner on that, so one reason that students might be optimistic about journalism right now is we have all kinds of new startups and businesses happening.”

Ward talked about his transition from online teaching at his previous school to teaching in-person at Pittsburg State University.

“I stepped out of the classroom when we left for spring break of 2020 there at Lamar and I did not come back,” Ward said. “I was never back in a classroom at Lamar because we were online. The rest of that spring and then I taught online all last fall and all last spring. So, the big transition for me has been coming here and we’re in person… It seems like it’s proving relatively safe to do this in person, and I know it’s where I’d rather be. I think it’s where most of the students would rather be to everybody is happy to be back in face to face.”

Ward sees social media as a new way for journalists to share information.

“(Social media) definitely won’t replace journalism,” Ward said. “But I’m also not sure that it’s going to be another iteration of journalism… I think journalism is going to exist with journalists participating in social media and their content circulating on social media, but still mostly independent of social media in terms of where that information originates.”

As a historian, Ward expressed how he sees the current media environment.

“A second reason students should be interested in journalism is if they are looking around at the world right now and they’re recognizing all of the problems that we face,” Ward said, “A couple of years ago we had a big surge in enrollment in journalism programs across the country because there was an attack on the media as fake news. A lot of students were able to look at that and say that I can I see this is not true. I want to be a part of countering that false narrative about what the media is. And I encourage students to do that right because the only way to counter the lie of fake news is to produce high-quality content.”

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