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Department News


November 7, 2014


Andris Straumanis, an associate professor in the Department of Journalism, has been appointed to the advisory council of the recently created Diaspora and Migration Research Center at the University of Latvia. Straumanis, who joined the UW-River Falls faculty in 2005, initiated the idea of a diaspora studies center in Latvia during the summer of 2012. The center was formally establised at the Rīga-based university at the start of this academic year. The focus of the center is to examine various aspects of emigration from Latvia, both contemporary and historic. Migration – propelled by economic conditions, revolution and war – has been a constant theme for the Latvian people, with tens of thousands of persons having left since the country joined the European Union in 2004. The center will be led by Aija Lulle, a professor of human geography at the University of Latvia. Straumanis pursues research in the history of the Latvian immigrant press and the nature of diasporic media.

MARCH 3, 2014

UWRF campus media win professional recognition

Student journalists for the campus newspaper and radio station at UW-River Falls have been recognized for their work by Wisconsin's two leading professional media organization.

Both the Wisconsin Newspaper Association (WNA) and the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association (WBA) held their annual conventions at the end of February.  Among events at the convention were ceremonies awarding the best in professional and student journalism in the state.

In the Collegiate Better Newspaper Contest sponsored by the WNA Foundation, the Student Voice won three awards for articles published during 2013.  The weekly newspaper earned a first place for best editorial.  The editorial chastised the Student Senate for not representing students professionally.  Ashley (Goettl) Hanley, who graduated last year and now works as a reporter for KEYC-TC in Mankato, Minn., earned second place in general reporting for her story about a UWRF professor acquitted of sexual assault charge.  Jonathan Reid, a professional writing major, earned third place in column writing for his remembrance of Professor Meseret Reta, a journalism adjunct who died of cancer in November 2012.

In the WBA Student Awards for Excellence, a former and a current reporter for WRFW were honored for their radio news reports.  Christopher Liermann, a 2013 graduate who majored in journalism, earned first place for a sports story about the UWRF swimming and diving team's effort to find a new coach.  Liermann also was awarded first place for sports programming for radio with his hockey pre-game show. Journalism major Maddie Berg's story on the opening of "CHICAGO The Musical" on the UWRF campus received second place recognition.

The Student Voice and WRFW are student-run campus media organizations supported primarily by student fees and advised by faculty in the Department of Journalism.  The faculty advisor for the Student Voice is Associate Professor Andris Straumanis, while the news department of WRFW is advised by Professor Sandy Ellis, chair of the department.


For further information, contact Professor Sandy Ellis, chair of the Journalism Department, at (715) 425-3169 or, or Associate Professor Andris Straumanis,



Matt-Boyd       National Murrow Award Winners

Matthew McConico and Boyd Huppert

UW-River Falls Alumni

Photo by Matt McConico

Matt is the News Director of KRNV-TV, Reno, NV.  His news department won for a series called Silver State Secrets. npp4c

Boyd is the Kare 11 TV Reporter.  Boyd won two awards.

Neighborhood of Love-feature reporting




UWRF journalism alum promoted at KSTP-TV

Mar. 7, 2012—UWRF alum Erik Altmann (class of 2010) was recently promoted from investigative reporter to a full-time position as night side assignment desk editor at KSTP-TV. 

Three UWRF students attend Wisconsin Broadcast Association's Student Seminar, one wins award

Mar. 5, 2012—Three students involved with WRFW-FM attended the day-long Wisconsin Broadcast Association's Student Seminar in Middleton this weekend.2012 WBA award

Pictured from l. to r. are Jon Lyksett, Michael Brun (WRFW News Director) and Elliot Novak (WRFW Program Director). College students from Wisconsin and Northern Illinois who are interested in broadcasting as a career attended the annual event.

Brun won a Student Award for Excellence taking first place in the Radio Public Affairs/Talk Show category with his "Haunted Wisconsin" interview with UWRF Professor Emeriti Michael Norman.

UWRF journalism alum publishes sequel to Alice in Wonderland

Feb. 2012—UWRF alum Buz Swerkstrom's second published book, a sequel to Alice in Wonderland entitled In The Time of Twelve, is available in print and e-book from Details here. Swerkstrom's first book, Polk County Places: Impressions & Explorations of Polk County, Wisconsin was published in Decemer 2008.

UWRF journalism alum awarded first place for investigative reporting

Feb. 2, 2012—UWRF alum Mike Longaecker earned first place for his article, "Wrongfully accused" in the 2010-11 Minnesota Better Newspaper Contest. Read Longaecker's article in the Red Wing Republican Eagle here.

Marian B. Wolfe died Friday, Dec. 30

Marian Wolfe-Photo by Jens Gunelson 2011Jan. 2012—Marian Wolfe, wife of former UWRF Vice Chancellor Wayne Wolfe, died December 30, 2011. The Wolfes came to UWRF in 1950 when it was River Falls State Teacher's College. As a member of the English Department, Wayne taught a journalism course that he eventually built into the Journalism Department. Marian delighted in telling tales of members of the Student Voice staff coming to their home for food and relaxation after they put the weekly paper "to bed." Read more about Marian here.

Photo by Jens Gunelson

UWRF Journalism professor accompanies students to Tibetan Plateau and beyond

Aug. 2011—Prof. Tracy O'Connell was one of several faculty to accompany UWRF students on a unique interdisciplinary field opportunity to China, July 25 - Aug. 13. The trip combined touring and working collaboratively with others on projects for the China Research and Exploration Society (CERS). The CERS was founded by explorer and UWRF alum, Wong How Man. Photos of this adventure can be viewed here (


21 UWRF journalism majors earn bachelor's degrees in 2010-11

August, 2010—The following journalism majors at University of Wisconsin-River Falls earned bachelor's degrees during the 2010-11 academic year: Erik Joseph Altmann; Patrick Jay Bakker; Elwood J. Brehmer; Natalie Ann Conrad; Kevin Michael Duzynski; Blaze Rudolph Fugina; Leila Theresa Hirsch; Derek Robert Johnson; Kimberly Ann Kuhens; Jordan Rae Langer; Christina Joy Lindstrom; Steven James Linzmeier; Tennae A. Maki; Whitney Marie Mayfield; Karyn Lee Nelson; Adam Thomas Ries; James Cameron Scott; Alexis Christine Simmons; Diana Vang; Brian John Wegner and Abbigail Mary Witt.

UWRF Journalism student selected for Pulitzer Center Fellowship

August 31, 2010—Senior Journalism major Elwood Brehmer spent six weeks in Alaska reporting on the lives of Native Americans in the Yukon Flats region north of Fairbanks. Brehmer was awarded a prestigious student reporting fellowship by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. His focus: the lives of those who live in the villages of Fort Yukon, Beaver and Circle and the impact of the shrinking population of Yukon River Chinook salmon.

Brehmer is from River Falls, WI and as a child, he visited family members in Juneau and Fairbanks each summer. He expects to graduate from UWRF in December 2010.

View Elwood Brehmer's blog at

"The Pulitzer Center is interested in reporting projects that focus on topics and regions of global importance, with an emphasis on issues that have gone unreported or under-reported in the mainstream American media."



UWRF Journalism student recognized by Minnesota News Photographers Association

April 21, 2010—UWRF Journalism minor, Lezli Weis, earned an honorable mention in the Minnesota News Photographers Association's 2009 College Pictures of the Year contest. Lezli was honored in the pictorials category for an image titled, "Sunset."

Alum Boyd Huppert wins regional television awards

April 9, 2010—UWRF Journalism alum and Kare-11 TV Reporter, Boyd Huppert, is among the regional award winners announced by the Radio Television Digital News Association. The RTDNA has been honoring outstanding achievements in electronic journalism with the Edward R. Murrow Awards since 1971. Murrow Award recipients demonstrate the spirit of excellence that Edward R. Murrow made a standard for the broadcast news profession.
Watch Huppert's winning stories: 

WRFW student directors earn Wisconsin Broadcasters Association awards

March 6, 2010—Jaime Babb (WRFW News Director) and Adam Lee (WRFW Program Director) took 3rd place in the Radio Public Affairs/Talk Show category at the WBA Student Seminar held in Madison, Mar. 5-6.Nearly 200 students, along with their faculty from universities and colleges across Wisconsin and northern Illinois attended the annual event. UWRF attendees were students Jaime Babb, Adam Lee, Jon Stefonek and Diana Vang as well as Journalism faculty Sandy Ellis and Rick Burgsteiner.

WRFW Student Directors

Left to right: Jaime Babb, Diana Vang,
Boyd Huppert (KARE-11 TV), Adam Lee and Jon Stefonek

Journalism program receives grant

JULY 16, 2009—The University of Wisconsin–River Falls journalism department has received a $2,730 educational support grant from the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Foundation.  The grant will be used to purchase three digital video news kits for use by UWRF journalism students. More...

Huppert and BoydAlum calls himself a lucky guy

JULY 30, 2009—River Falls Journal article. Boyd Huppert and photojournalist Aethan Hart, a frequent working partner, prepare to cover the meeting between the two neighboring governors, Wisconsin’s Jim Doyle and Minnesota’s Tim Pawlenty, in Hudson Friday at the St. Croix Marina.  A UWRF-  journalism and political science graduate, Boyd Huppert has carved out a reputation for poignant, insightful TV reporting.  How does the son of a well-known River Falls dairy farmer go on to become one of the most recognized TV reporters in the Twin Cities? KARE-11 TV general assignment reporter Boyd Huppert said that upbringing is more important than one might imagine.  More on Boyd Huppert...

Colleen Callahan RetiresColleen Callahan retires from UWRF

MAY 2009—Colleen Callahan retired after 23 years of teaching and nine years as chair of the Department of Journalism at UWRF. The department and students expressed their appreciation at the annual awards reception on May 7. Her contributions to students, the department and to UWRF have been extensive. More on Colleen Callahan...


Diana VangMay 2009 Excellence in Student Journalism Awards

Many deserving Journalism students were honored with academic and scholarship awards at the annual awards reception, May 7, 2009. More photos...





WRFW celebrated 40 years of broadcast

Mike Norman Banquet slide show Photos by Jens Gunelson.

"WRFW: The First 40 Years" slide show Pam Jahnke

Students line up to ask questions at the Working Journalists Seminar

Students Talking

Details and photos

Professor Berg goes on Sabbatical

Berg ThmUW-River Falls Journalism Associate Professor Patricia Berg was awarded a Sabbatical to start a book about media coverage in rural communities. During fall semester she will produce two articles and a book proposal. More...





May 2008 Excellence in Student Journalism Awards

Student Awards
More awards event photos...




Professor Sandy Ellis receives Compass Award from first-year studentsDr. Sandy Ellis


Photo Contest Judging

Student ContestAPRIL 2008 - Students patiently wait for the judges' decisions in the 39th annual Photography Contest & Exhibition, sponsored by the Department. Carlos Gonzalez, photographer at the Star Tribune; Ginger Pinson, photo lab technician at the St. Paul Pioneer Press; and Jude Kroutil, former contest winner, judged 140 entries. Winning photos are on exhibit at the Harriet Barry Gallery in Davee Library from April 19-May 1.

Guest speaker Dr. Jane Rhodes

Jane RhodesFEBRUARY 2008 - Dr. Jane Rhodes, Dean for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, Macalester College, spoke about her latest book, "Framing the Black Panthers: The Spectacular Rise of a Black Power Icon." A book signing and reception followed her public lecture sponsored by the UWRF Black Student Union, Department of Journalism, and the Ethnic Studies Program.

Hometown newspaper highlights Wayne Wolfe's career

WolfeJANUARY 2008 - M. Wayne Wolfe, professor emeritus and founder of the UWRF Journalism Department, was recently profiled in his hometown newspaper, the Valley Independent (Monessen, Penn.). Photo by Niki Paton, journalism student

Journalism McNair Scholar

SamanthaDECEMBER 2007 - Samantha Wenwoi recently presented her research of news coverage on lynchings in the South from 1884-1930. Her research applied the method of content analysis to examine and quantify the changes in coverage over time, while raising issues of journalistic objectivity as well as the social and political intersection between race and the media. Samantha also presented her paper at the 16th Annual National McNair Research Conference in Delavan, Wis. (pictured above). Samantha graduated in December.

Student Voice staff honored in state contest

DECEMBER 2007 - Two staff members of the Student Voice won awards at the Better Newspaper Contest by the Wisconsin Newspaper Association. Ben Jipson earned 3rd place in column writing for his piece, "Cereal is essential." Josh Dahlke earned honorable mention in feature writing for his story, "Student postpone schooling for military duty."

Alum wins regional Emmy

KeslerOCTOBER 2007 - Nick Kesler (2004 graduate) received an Emmy from the National Televison Academy for Best Documentary "Anthony Bonsante".

Pictured with his wife Marnie, Nick Kesler is a producer/photographer/editor for Fox Sports Net North.

Alum wins national Emmy

Huppert BoydSEPTEMBER 2007 - Boyd Huppert (1984 graduate) received an Emmy from the National Televison Academy in September for a feature story on an artist who paints portraits of soldiers killed in action. "Portrait of Compassion" aired on KARE-11 News Extra and NBC Today Show.
"If we don't open our eyes to the stories that uplift, we can get mired in the bad and the social ill," Huppert says. "It is important that we tell those stories, too, but we have to remind ourselves that there is also good in our communities and good in the world." View the story


2007 M. Wayne Wolfe Outstanding Graduating Senior

Helen WEBMAY, 2007 - Wayne Wolfe, founder of the Journalism Department, presents the Department's highest award to Helen Clarke at the annual awards reception. Photo by Niki L. Paton, journalism student

On-line journalism

Brett LongdinMARCH, 2007 - Brett Longdin, executive producer at Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Online, describes the organizational structure at JSO Online at a daylong meeting on media convergence March 31 with faculty and students. Longdin is a 1997 journalism graduate. The Department is preparing to offer students a practicum in on-line journalism. Photo by Niki L. Paton, journalism student

3 students win award for video documentary

WBA AwardsFEBRUARY, 2007 - A video documentary entitled "High Hopes" produced by three UWRF students received second place in the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association's student competition. The documentary revealed the challenges of young mothers returning to high school to receive their diplomas. Students created the documentary for a semester project in the Documentary Production class taught by Ellis in Fall 2006. From left to right: Sandy Ellis, Journalism professor; Laura McLuen; Connie Regan; and Anjali Ranieri. Photo by Niki Paton, Journalism student

Student journalists win awards

WNAFEBRUARY, 2007 - Jennie Oemig, assistant editor of the Student Voice, received second place in feature writing at the Wisconsin Newspaper Association's annual competition Feb. 9 for "The Heat is On," a behind-the-scenes account of the Central Heating Plant on campus. Other winners are Helen Clarke, former Voice editor and now education reporter at the Manitowoc Times Reporter, and Keighla Schmidt, Voice Viewpoints editor. Clarke received second place in editorial writing for "Protesters Lack Respect." Schmidt won a certificate of merit in Investigative Reporting for "Illegal Leaking."

Journalism professor interviewed on WPR

sandy WEBJANUARY 19, 2007 - Sandy Ellis, broadcast professor, discussed issues of race and prejudice in journalism on the Wisconsin Public Radio program "Conversations with Kathleen Dunn" in mid January. Ellis teaches "Race, Class and News." Listen to the interview. (Select Jan. 19 for date and scroll down to 10 a.m.)

Al Murray donates vintage photo equipment

Al MurrayDECEMBER 14, 2006 - Al Murray, director of Engineering at WRFW, polishes a Speed Graphic view camera, one of several vintage photographic artifacts he donated to the Journalism Department. The camera was used by his father, Mark Murray, in the 1930s and 40s when he worked as a news photographer at several Wisconsin community newspapers. The Journalism Department hosted a reception Dec. 14 to acknowledge Murray's generous gift. The items are housed in a display case on the Third Floor of North Hall. Photo by Niki L. Paton, journalism student

Department recommended for re-accreditation

Site TeamOCTOBER 25, 2006 - Members of the site team who evaluated the Journalism Department are (from left) Paul Smeyak, professor and graduate coordinator at the School of Journalism and Broadcasting at Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Okla.; Dan Lattimore, vice provost of Extended Programs and Dean of the University College at the University of Memphis; and Carolina Gonzalez, consultant and freelance reporter from Brooklyn, N.Y. Photo by Niki L. Paton, journalism student.

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715-425-3169 phone
715-425-0658 fax

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