Monday, February 13, 2012

A European Atmosphere

By Emily Brown

After three years of taking classes in the journalism school at the University of Missouri I can tell you one thing I have learned for certain: J-schoolers are a proud and close-knit clan.  We walk in packs to the J-CafĂ© for coffee, proudly display Missouri School of Journalism apparel, and can frequently be heard boasting of going to the best school around.  Many critique these behaviors, but I ask why shouldn’t we be like this?  The journalism school at Mizzou, often revered as one of the best in the nation, provides us with a phenomenal education, no matter your emphasis, and offers fantastic opportunities that other majors can only dream of.

One such opportunity is the Europe Tour study abroad program.  Students from each journalistic sequence get to experience the sights and wonders of Europe while getting a taste of daily life and work abroad in their emphasis.  Various visits to media outlets and agencies allow students to not just feel pride in their own major, but also to appreciate all the other sequences that their journalistic comrades are involved in as well.  As a strategic communication major, I was much more enthusiastic about tours and lectures from advertising agencies like McCann-Erickson and public relations firms like Hill+Knowlton, however, upon entering various news outlets and getting the chance to be a fly on the wall for a couple hours gave me more appreciation for my fellow journalists in their respective emphasis areas.

Each agency or news organization was unique with its own characteristics and mannerisms, however, after visiting a handful of places I began to notice a pattern.  Each sequence of work has similarities in the type of people that work there, the speed of duties carried out, and the overall atmosphere.
I had my suspicions (based on my personality) about how all three of these characteristics applied to my own sequence, but my hunches were completely confirmed upon entering McCann-Erickson on our first day in Prague, Czech Republic.  As soon as we stepped through the agency’s front doors, we were greeted by a younger man and woman who were very friendly (with little to none of the stereotypical reserved manner of many Czech people) and fashionably dressed.  They led us through their modern and artful building into a conference room that was as chic as it was high tech with automatic blinds and other gadgets.  The presentation was well prepared and thorough, but fairly casual and laid back. 

Creative inspiration at McCann-Erickson
As we exited the conference room for a quick tour we saw this theme of casualness continue.  Many employees had stepped out for their hour lunch break so the offices were fairly empty and as we cruised through their open and colorful work space it was clear that these employees enjoyed their work and were not afraid to have fun with it.  Our tour guide mentioned along the way that many meetings were held on their outside patio when weather was nice and also that funny clippings were often cut out and pasted on one wall in the creative office as inspiration and entertainment.  McCann-Erickson produces great work and is efficient and affective at what they do, however, the atmosphere was relaxed, casual, and fun…just what I expected and was delighted to find.

Our next visit to a company in the strategic communication industry would prove to be very similar.  Hill+Knowlton Strategies in Brussels, Belgium is a very successful and competent public relations firm housing many younger employees that have great respect for what they do, but have fun with it too.  The overall atmosphere was comparable to McCann-Erickson in that it seemed somewhat casual, however, the speed seemed a bit faster as many employees have to be very on top of scheduling and the processes of the European Parliament (also located in Brussels).  These PR experts are responsible for lobbying for their clients within parliament as well as monitoring coverage in the media.  Due to this added pressure the setting was not as laid-back as in Prague, but still much different than our experiences in our visits to various media outlets.

The wide expanse of media outlets that we had the great opportunity to tour while on our European excursion encompassed many forms of news sources including newspaper, magazine, television, and radio.  The atmospheres differed slightly in each; however, I noticed many common threads that differed from those companies in the strategic communication industry.  Overall there seemed to be a much more rushed pace of work and although the reporters and other employees seemed to love what they do they were a bit more serious and had a more intellectual, seasoned way about them.

The first news outlet we dropped in on was Le Monde newspaper in Paris, France.  Immediately upon entering I found the atmosphere to be more hustling and bustling with reporters, editors, and designers working in tandem to pull together the latest issue before deadline.  The employees seemed to be old veterans to the process, flipping through their dictionaries and producing the layout with confidence and grace.  As we entered the new digital floor the employees became younger, fresher faced looking with less intensity but with that same drive that all of the older reporters also seemed to possess.

The other print medium that we toured, Slate Magazine, contained the same type of hardnosed and hardworking writers and reporters with only a slight give in intensity.  They also had a passion for news and took great pride in producing a quality publication.

Our tour guide on a stylish set at France Television
The broadcast sequence, I found, to be one of the most glamorous atmospheres on the European tour.  France Televisions, France24, and even Vatican Radio all contained the intensity and speed of the print news outlets with all of the glam found at an advertising agency.  Stylish reporters, producers, and directors were on a deadline, but still made time to stop and chat with the group and tell a couple jokes in the process. 

J-Schoolers at the University of Missouri are a proud clan.  We like to strut our stuff and tell everyone about the journalism school.  After taking part of the Europe Tour through the journalism school, I now have one more reason to brag about my school and my colleagues.

Click here to contact Emily Brown.

No comments:

Post a Comment