A Q&A with School of Journalism and Strategic Media’s Gina Holland Shelton
Gina Holland Shelton
Instructor and Internship Coordinator, School of Journalism and Strategic Media
In this conversation, Shelton talks about her love of journalism, her experience reporting for The Associated Press on the U.S. Supreme Court beat, preparing her students to get jobs through hands-on experiences, helping students get dream internships, working on the Lemke Journalism Project, and sailing to beautiful islands across the world.
Q: Tell us a little about your research, academic passions and/or role within the college. What excites you about this?
My specialty is legal and political reporting. Before coming to the University of Arkansas, I spent 17 years with The Associated Press, including five years on the U.S. Supreme Court beat.
I covered the death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, and the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor as well as confirmation hearings for Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito.
That experience has been incredibly timely in guiding students through analysis of the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
One semester I took legal affairs reporting students to the Supreme Court, where they interviewed Justice Antonin Scalia, covered a hearing and met with Scotus reporters.
I was persuaded to teach a news reporting course as an adjunct in 2012, a few years after we moved to Fayetteville from Washington.
The classroom experience was energizing. As a second generation journalist, I was worried about the career’s future and saw this as a really important time to join the front lines of preparing students for the news business.
It’s rewarding to see students get excited about – and then pursue occupations in – something that I love.
Q: What do you most hope your students remember from their classes and/or interactions with you?
Students tell me that I prepare them for jobs. I don’t sugarcoat the challenges they will face. Students leave my classes with hands-on experiences.
My honors colloquium students last semester worked on a Freedom of Information Act project that covered all 75 counties in Arkansas, produced television roundtable discussions and provided live mid-term election night analysis for UATV, held a focus group on media consumption trends, and recorded podcasts on timely subjects like immigration reform.
Q: What do you like to do during your time outside of the university?
My husband and I sail. We charter sailboats and spend vacation time navigating islands, from amazing French Polynesian spots like Bora Bora, to places a little closer including Belize, the British Virgin Islands and St. Martin/St. Barts. We also have a small sailboat on Beaver Lake.
Q: What’s up next on the horizon for you?
In January I switched my energy to directing the journalism school’s high school diversity program.
Northwest Arkansas high school students take a bus to campus for six Saturdays. They are trained in media literacy and produce a newspaper and television newscast. The main outreach is to Hispanic teens and first generation college students.
The Lemke Journalism Project was started 17 years ago, and faculty volunteer their time to keep it running on a tight budget. We want these students to become part of the Fulbright College.
We have graduates in media jobs around the country. Locally, you can watch KNWA anchor Jennifer Peñate.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add or let readers know?
As the school’s internship coordinator, it’s been gratifying to help students get dream internships in cities like Los Angeles, New York and Washington.
The skills we teach in the J-school (writing, researching, social media, public relations campaigns and data analysis) translate into so many positions.