Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Southeast Mass Media Department names photojournalist new chair

Monday, August 20, 2012
Dr. John Zibluk talks to the Arrow staff in its office in Grauel Building.

Dr. John (Jack) Zibluk has worked in mass media most of his life. What started with the editor position at his grade school paper has flourished into a position as chair of the Department of Mass Media at Southeast Missouri State University.

"Stay with your beliefs, work with the things you love to do and you'll find your way," Zibluk said. "Through my ups and downs and ups I have ended up here, and there must be a reason for it. If I can be any kind of example it's not of being particularly talented, it's of being persistent."

Dr. Z, as he is commonly referred to, has been interested in journalism and photography from an early age and is a part of a mass media-centered family. Not only is his wife, Sara McNeil, involved in the communication aspect of media, but also their daughter Kate Zibluk began her school's first newspaper, The Blessed Sun, at the age of 10.

Zibluk began his career in Connecticut, where he established himself as a newspaper writer, editor and photographer. In 1998 he earned his Ph.D. in mass communications at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

While still in school, Zibluk was hired as a professor at Arkansas State University in the photojournalism program. He taught writing, design, research, methodology courses and was the faculty senate president.

Zibluk left this position after 19 years and spent a year searching for new career opportunities. After an almost year-long process he accepted the chair position, replacing the retiring Dr. Tamara Baldwin.

As the mass media chair, Zibluk oversees all options in the accredited mass media department. He hopes for greater integration of the multimedia programs in the future and to have video and online all integrated under the same umbrella.

"If this is the team, I guess I am the manager," Zibluk said. "And issue No. 1 is the accreditation."

Southeast is provisionally accredited by The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. Accreditation is important because it shows the program meets all the standards of the council. Southeast's accreditation benefits students because it shows future employers that students have earned a quality education.

"We [Southeast] were cited by the accreditation agency as being out of compliance in governance because there was instability in my position and assessment," Zibluk said. "Just having someone who's committed to being here a while should address most of those governance issues."

The stability and competence of the department's leadership is considered part of the evaluation of governance.

The assessment portion of accreditation evaluates the department's goals for student learning, its written plans for measuring learning and data collected from faculty, students and alumni that is used for improving the curriculum and instruction, according to the council's website.

Southeast and the University of Missouri are the only colleges in Missouri that are accredited.

"We stand out because of our relationship with the [Southeast] Missourian, and we stand out with the film festival," Zibluk said. "I mean, we have some real things to be proud of, and we need to brag a little bit."

The Southeast Missourian is Cape Girardeau's daily newspaper. It formed a partnership with the university to manage the Arrow in 2011. The Faultline Film Festival is an annual film competition.

Zibluk will teach two sections of the Mass Communication 101: Mass communication and society class.

"I am going to go in and talk about what the media does, its basic functions and why it matters," Zibluk said. "Everybody needs to understand his or her rights and responsibilities as a citizen working in a media environment."

He also said it was important to promote the department.

"I think we can do more for the students of the region," Zibluk said. "So many of them do go up to Columbia [University of Missouri], and they do a wonderful job there. But you get more attention here, and I think not enough people still know we are here. It is a big goal to get the word out and work with alumni and assorted media."

Zibluk will leave other changes in the department up to students.

"I want to see what are the changes that you want to make," Zibluk said. "This is not my program. I'm from a Connecticut factory town. This is your school, and I want the students and the faculty and the staff to determine what the next level looks like."