Taking a Media Savvy Social Work Course: A Student’s Perspective from Dottie-Jean Turenne

Ms. Dottie-Jean Turenne

Ms. Dottie-Jean Turenne

Ms. Alyssa Lotmore, from the School of Social Welfare at the University at Albany and the co-host of The Social Workers Radio Talk Show, recently wrote about her media savvy social work course. This courses helps students learn beneficial skills about seeing the public as the client and using the media to reach those who may never had considered seeing or using a social worker. As a follow-up to Ms. Lotmore’s post, I asked one her students, Dottie-Jean Turenne, to share her thoughts on the course, what it was like to use media as a social work student, and how the knowledge and skills from the course might be incorporated in her future role as a social worker. Here are Dottie-Jean’s responses to my questions:

1, What interested you in taking this class in the first place?
As you watch the news or read stories online, you often hear social workers being stigmatized as only child protective service workers (CPS) or that they only provide services to the poor, however, as this is incorrect. Social workers are not regularly recognized for the inspiration and empowerment they provide to all vulnerable populations. Taking this course became an interest of mine, once I realized that I could use media to be a strong voice. I could use my voice not only as an advocate, but to show the world the true meaning of being a social worker and the passion we have to empower others.

2. What was your initial reaction to interviewing individuals for the radio, podcasts or other public presentations?
I have always had a fear of public speaking, so initially I was nervous at the thought of interviewing individuals for the radio. To overcome these feelings, I found it most helpful to become familiar with the specific topic and to be prepared with strong questions. In my first interview, I had some great responses to the guest, but the lack of confidence was clear during the first part of the show. However, once I became comfortable with being on the radio, my confidence begin to build.

3. How did your reaction to this course change over the semester?
I began the course thinking that I just had to learn the basics, be professional, and execute the assignments. However, overtime I began to realize that you just have to let yourself relax in order to develop a great show. Of course, it is important to be prepared with strong and effective questions, but once you have the confidence in yourself, the prepared questions become more of a crutch and you are able to execute an engaging show. I honestly wish there was another media savvy course to take during my graduate career. The course is not just helpful with sharpening interviewing skills, but is a great confidence builder. By the end of the course, I learned about many different topics related to social work practice, how to execute a professional interview, and mostly, how to be a strong voice for the unheard.

4. Since you never interviewed people for radio before, what steps did you take to learn about the process, identify people to interview and develop your skill set?
In the beginning of the course, our instructor gave many resources on how to execute an engaging show. To further learn the process and develop my hosting skills, I listened to not only the radio broadcast she provided, but also to different radio broadcasts available online. Listening to a variety of radio shows helped learn the different personality dynamics and how to connect with the guests.

Our first assignments required us to partner with different classmates, in which each student took on the role of the host along with the role of the guest. Working with different classmates helped me realize that it’s important to not only be a prepared host, but to have a knowledgeable guest to produce a strong show. For my final project, I had to select a specific topic of interest and interview three different individuals outside of the class. While I was interning with the American Cancer Society, I began to become familiar with the different barriers that survivors faced while on his or her cancer journey. Therefore, I knew it was important to interview individuals who were comfortable with discussing their personal connection with cancer along with having a strong voice. I learned that when choosing your guest, it is important to know the experience you want the listeners to go through while listening to your show.

5. How do you plan to use the skills from this class in your professional practice?
I did not only learn how to develop a strong engaging show, but I was able to strengthen my interviewing skills. As an inspiring social worker, throughout my career I will be conducting many interviews along with being interviewed and am grateful for the opportunity of the media savvy social work course. I plan on taking the confidence that I have gained through the course and potentially using media for community outreach, advocacy, and social justice in my professional practice.

6. Would you recommend other students take a Media Savvy Social Work Course? Why?
I highly recommend all students to take a Media Savvy Social Worker course. Not only will students strengthen his or her interviewing skills, but they will have the ability and skills to be a public voice for the unheard. As a new generation of social workers, we can use the knowledge of media to promote the positive effects of our work and break the negative stigmas.

Click here for more information about the Media Savvy Social Work Course.

Author: Laurel Hitchcock

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