Journalism is not going away; it’s just changing,” said 2008 Electronic Media graduate Jaime Koch. “There is no end to what journalism prepares you for.”

Jaime Koch and Emily GroenAn associate editor for the North American Retail Hardware Association’s print and online news production division in Indianapolis, Koch said she constantly uses the interviewing, research and writing skills she learned in her journalism classes. “When he hired me, my boss told me, ‘I’d rather you be able to write [than know about hardware]. I can teach you about the business.’ ”Koch has been with NRHA for three years. Classmate Emily Groen (’08 Journalism) was hired one year ago and holds Jaime’s original position as an assistant editor. They are part of a five-person writing/design staff that produces a monthly magazine, some 30 additional specialty print pieces and much of NRHA’s online and social media content. Their audience is the association’s 40,000 members, mostly independent retailers and some suppliers.Groen worked in advertising immediately after graduation. At Koch’s suggestion, she wrote for NRHA, then was hired full time. She’s glad to have work more closely aligned with her journalism studies. “I’ve been taking on additional responsibilities in the past year and had my first cover story published in November 2010 magazine,” she said. “Every day has a different challenge.”Promoted to associate editor in 2010, Koch enjoys working with designers to plan the look of magazine pages and stories. Articles “are not just about tools,” she said. She and Groen develop news and features about issues many small businesses face, such as employee training, sales trends and community involvement. Their goal, she said, is always the same: “How can the NRHA make life easier for hardware dealers?”Koch and Groen started NRHA’s first social media committee to develop YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook presence for the 110-year-old association. “There was some initial resistance, but now it’s a huge part of what we do today,” Groen said. “I’m happy that Butler prepared us for it.”

She is working with another NRHA editor to develop a new e-news program that will extend online outreach.Having an online presence has changed the nature of NRHA’s news coverage, Koch said. “We have to evaluate if news should go on the web or in the magazine and develop original content for the web,” she said. “Before, our staff chose what news seemed important. Now, our retailers tell us what they want to know, and you’d better be on it.”Groen and Koch each travel an average four or five days a month to interview, photograph and videotape retailers in their stores across the country. “The contacts with people in the industry is so valuable,” said Groen. Koch has spoken at some industry events. “I feel more confident in being an ‘expert” in the field,” she said.Both alumnae applaud Butler’s creation of the College of Communication, which brings previously separated communication programs under one roof. CCOM’s cross-disciplinary approach “is realistic, like the real job world.” Groen said. “I wish we could have taken this curriculum.”CCOM is “creating an environment where students can safely experiment and learn new skills.” Koch said. “It’s long overdue and exciting to hear about.”Their advice to future journalists? “Be open to new ideas about your job opportunities,” Koch said.Today, all businesses need a communications department, Groen said. Those businesses “will want you to do everything, so learn as many different media as possible.”Media contact: Mary Ellen Stephenson(317) 940-6944mestephe@butler.edu

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