June O Nicholson
Professor, Journalism and Director of Graduate Studies
B.A., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
M.A., American University
June O. Nicholson, associate professor and director of graduate studies in the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture, works with the School’s director to oversee the strategic management of both the undergraduate and graduate programs. The School has two M.S. fast-track degree programs in mass communications, with concentrations in Strategic Public Relations and Multimedia Journalism. The multimedia journalism program was launched in summer 2008.
As associate director for graduate studies from fall 2007 to spring 2008, Nicholson guided development of the multimedia journalism immersion program that is designed to prepare graduates to work at a high level in newsrooms as companies move rapidly to provide content in a variety of news “platforms.” In 2006-07, she led the task force that created the new master’s program in multimedia journalism.
Nicholson also helps manage the School’s M.S. degree in Strategic Public Relations, which began operation in 2007. That same year the School designed a new dual degree in strategic PR with Fudan University in Shanghai, China, that is part of the VCU-Fudan partnership. Nicholson works with the coordinator of the dual degree to implement that program.
She also is liaison to the School’s Brandcenter, a two-year master’s program that has gained national recognition for preparing students to work at top advertising agencies. Nicholson serves on a steering committee for VCU’s interdisciplinary Ph.D program in Media, Art and Text, that is offered in conjunction with the School of the Arts and the Department of English.
A former award-winning reporter for newspapers in North Carolina and Virginia, Nicholson has been a faculty member in the School since 1984. She has taught introductory and advanced journalism courses, as well as international media, honors and graduate courses. Nicholson’s teaching specializations include government, enterprise and depth project reporting and coverage of beats such as science, health, education, urban affairs and the environment. She helped to integrate multimedia journalism into the School’s undergraduate curriculum. and in 2004 collaborated with a broadcast colleague to produce a “convergence” project on young voters in the 2004 election, under a national Best Practices in Journalism grant.
She headed a planning group in 2006-07 that developed a Mass Communications Honors-Scholars program, which allows undergraduate students in the School to graduate with honors from both VCU and mass communications. Nicholson has worked to increase the number of honors courses offered by the School. In recent years, she also has helped to increase international offerings in the School and at VCU. During 2006-07, Nicholson co-developed with a broadcast colleague an immersion honors course Covering Contemporary China, in which 14 students from VCU spent two weeks in China in spring 2007 to do a multimedia reporting project. The students were among the first undergraduates in the nation to do reporting in China. Students in the course produced a half-hour show for Richmond’s PBS cable station and other content. Nicholson also created a course International Media Coverage: The Middle East, that addresses cross-cultural issues. Students from VCU and approximately three dozen other universities in the United States, Europe and the Middle East are linked via Webcam and online technology with students from predominantly Muslim nations in the Middle East. In real time, the students discuss media coverage as well as political, religious, social and economic issues in the various nations.
The School was one of only a few programs in the United States and the Middle East in the pilot project during 2003-04 for the Connect Program, that offers the online discussions. The colleges and universities that have participated in the United States include Harvard, Georgetown, Tufts, Bryn Mawr, UNC-Chapel Hill, the University of Maryland, the University of Iowa and the University of Maine-Machias. The online discussions are coordinated by the Soliya non-profit organization, which was formed to build cross-cultural understanding.
Nicholson’s scholarship interests include the role of women in contemporary journalism. She is the lead editor for a book The Edge of Change: Women in the 21st Century Press about the status of women and challenges and issues in 21st century journalism, published by the University of Illinois Press. Two dozen top female executives, editors and leaders in the news industry have contributed original essays for this volume. Nicholson is the author of chapter of a book Women in Mass Communication (eds. Creedon and Cramer, 2007) on gender issues for women in the newspaper industry since the 1980s. She is co-author of a chapter on the status of women in U.S. media for the book Women Journalists in the Western World (eds. Frohlich and Lafky, 2008), about the status of women in journalism around the globe.
Nicholson has been a leader in the Society of Professional Journalists, the nation’s largest organization for print and broadcast journalists, for two decades. She chairs the International Journalism Committee of SPJ, is a member of SPJ’s Journalism Education Committee and was chair of Journalism Education from 2000-2007. Nicholson also served as Journalism Education chair from 1989-91, and served previously as a member of the committee for a decade. She served for more than a decade as a member of the national SPJ Professional Development Committee that develops seminars and plenary sessions for SPJ national conventions.
Nicholson also is co-developer of SPJ’s diversity curriculum that is part of the organization’s extensive newsroom training program. She has developed and/or participated in dozens of SPJ national seminars for professionals and educators.Nicholson is a former member of national SPJ committees on Freedom of Information, Diversity Among Journalists, Minority Affairs, and member of a task force that planned a national SPJ lecture series featuring women and minority journalists from across the country. She has written articles for national SPJ’s Quill magazine, one of the leading magazines for professional journalists and journalism educators, on multimedia journalism and issues of diversity in journalism and mass communications education. Nicholson also coordinated annual education editions for Quill. She is a former president of the Virginia professional chapter of SPJ, a current board member of the Virginia SPJ chapter, and has held a number of other leadership positions with the state organization.
Nicholson is a former vice president of Virginia Press Women, former board member for many years, and directed a number of initiatives for the VPW. In 1987, she received the VPW Communicator of the Year award, given for outstanding contributions to the journalism profession and to VPW. She has been a member of the Virginia Press Association’s Journalism Education Committee since 1986.
From 1985 to fall 2007, Nicholson directed VCU’s Urban Journalism Workshop in which a dozen participants spend two weeks each year at VCU, learning the basics of journalism and producing a 20-page newspaper. The workshop is sponsored by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the national Dow Jones Newspaper Fund, VCU and the Virginia Press Association.
The workshop is one of the most established and successful DJNF summer programs in the nation. Nicholson is a member and former chair of the UJW advisory board, and has worked recently to increase funding and the statewide scope of the program. Nicholson’s journalism career began in 1968 when she joined the staff of the News and Observer newspaper, in Raleigh, N.C., and was a general assignment and city hall reporter. Nicholson moved to Virginia in 1972, and covered the Virginia legislature, statewide politics, issues and state agencies for more than a decade. She worked for United Press International and was Capitol bureau chief for the Alexandria Gazette. Nicholson established and was editor of the Virginia News Service, which provided government coverage for selected daily newspapers. She has won a number of state and national awards for her coverage.
Nicholson is a member of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) and various divisions of AEJMC, as well as the Committee of Concerned Journalists, the International Women’s Media Foundation, Investigative Reporters and Editors and the Society of Environmental Journalists. Nicholson is a member of the VCU Faculty Senate and former president of the College of Humanities and Sciences Faculty Council. She is a former member of VCU’s University Council, the Faculty Senate’s EEO/AA Committee, the VCU Diversity and Equity Committee, University Honors Council, University Promotion and Tenure Policy Review Committee, the H and S Executive Committee and VCU AAUP Executive Committee. She is a former chair of the College’s Tenure and Promotion Committee and a former College academic honor policy coordinator.
In 2008, Nicholson was named recipient of the Robert P. Knight Multicultural Award, given by AEJMC for her contributions to promoting diversity in America’s newsrooms. In 2007, Nicholson was selected as recipient of the College of Humanities and Sciences Distinguished Service Award, for outstanding service to the profession of journalism and to VCU. Nicholson also is a former acting director (1997-98), associate director (1993-97) and assistant director (1986-90) of the School.
Nicholson holds an M.A. degree in public affairs journalism from The American University in Washington, D.C., and a B.A. degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.