When Gene Ellis announced his impending retirement, he noted that The Snapper staff would be getting a brand new adviser for Fall 2015. Few showed as much interest in the position as Assistant Professor of Digital Journalism, Dr. Robert Spicer, and when it was announced that he earned the position, Spicer was thrilled.
“I love writing and I love journalism,” Spicer said. “Also, The Snapper is such an important partpart of Millersville. So I’m really excited to be a part of that.”
One of the reasons Spicer was so excited was because this was not the first time he has advised a newspaper. Before he came to Millersville he was the former adviser of “The Minstrel,” the student run newspaper for DeSales University, where he taught for four years.
Spicer came into the position with a plan in mind. “I would like to see us build up the web presence. We’re in the middle of a website redesign that I think is going to be great,” Spicer said.
“Mostly I just want to continue the great work that has been done before I came along, to build on the legacy left by Gene Ellis,” Spicer said. He added that long-term, he’d like to see The Snapper become fully multimedia, complete with podcasts and videos.
It’s especially bittersweet that Spicer is taking over the position of adviser from Ellis. In the fall semester of his freshman year, Spicer took Ellis’ public speaking class. The two have been friends since.
“Gene was one of my favorite professors,” Spicer said. “It means a lot to me to have his support in this.”
Advising The Snapper is just one of the many facets of Spicer’s work. He teaches a wide variety of classes at Millersville, some of his favorites including Communication Research, Computer Assisted Journalism and the Press and Society. He also enjoys teaching media law, although he hasn’t taught it at Millersville yet.
As with most professors, his work doesn’t stop when he leaves the classroom. Spicer does a variety of research projects, mostly regarding politics, media and culture. He is also interested in emergingmedia and new technologies.
Currently he is working on a content analysis of news coverage of the aftermath of Freddie Gray’s death in Baltimore. A more non-traditional research project he is working on is a survey of user perceptions of Tinder. Spicer is working on this with former student Jody Sambrick. They will be presenting their findings in November at the Mid-Atlantic Popular and American Culture Association conference in Philadelphia.
Spicer knows he has big shoes to fill by replacing one of his favorite professors in this advising role at the Snapper. He is excited to help push the newspaper toward a new multimedia presence while continuing the legacy of the Snapper.