September 09, 2010

Rachel Gartner named River Region news director

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Rachel L. Gartner is returning to familiar surroundings as the new news director for Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s acclaimed River Region Evening Edition.

Gartner was the assistant news director while working as a graduate assistant with the award-winning student-run television newscast from 2005 to May 2007. She begins her duties on Monday, Sept. 13.

"We are thrilled to have Rachel Gartner joining our River Region team,” said Gary P. Kolb, dean of the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts. “The newscast will benefit from her knowledge and experience. River Region Evening Edition is the best student newscast in Illinois and one of the best in the country as evidenced by recent awards. We expect this tradition to continue under Rachel's guidance.”

Since June 2007, Gartner has been a senior reporter and fill-in anchor at WSIL-TV Channel 3, the ABC affiliate in Southern Illinois, southeast Missouri and northwest Kentucky.

Gartner said she is looking forward to returning to the campus newsroom. In 2007, while assistant news director, the Broadcast Education Association judged River Region Evening Edition the “Best Newscast” in its national competition.

“What I want to see is a professional and student environment combined,” she said. “This is a launching pad for the professional realm and it also has to be an opportunity for students to learn.”

About 70 SIUC students are involved with Evening Edition each semester, where they produce, present and crew the show that airs at 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday, on WSIU-TV Channel 8. Newscasts this semester will begin Oct. 4.

In addition to working with the nationally honored news broadcast, Gartner will also teach a news writing class each semester and likely over the summer, as well, Kolb said.

Eileen Waldron and Joey Helleny, senior lecturers in the Department of Radio-Television, believe Gartner will provide strong leadership for students.

“Rachel Gartner will provide excellent leadership for our students in the River Region Evening Edition newsroom,” said Waldron, who was a search committee member, adding that Gartner is a “terrific TV news reporter” with previous management experience.

“Rachel is a fantastic mentor for young journalists and will guide our student newscast to even greater accomplishment,” Waldron said.

“Rachel has done some great work as a video journalist,” Helleny said. “Her experience as a combination reporter and videographer will translate well to teaching SIUC students the contemporary skills needed in the rapidly changing field.

“When she was a graduate student here, we were able to clearly see Rachel’s ability to mentor less experienced students. Now, with some professional experience behind her, I’m sure she’ll be an even better teacher and counselor,” he said.

A 1999 graduate of Christopher High School, Gartner earned her bachelor’s degree in electronic media marketing/management from SIUC in 2005. She will earn a master’s degree in professional media practice upon completion of her thesis. While working on her graduate degree, Gartner was with The Washington Center for Internships & Academic Seminars from May through August 2006, where she worked as associate producer on PBS’ “To The Contrary.”

Gartner said she believes her own experience in the River Region newsroom, where she started on the assignment desk making telephone calls during her junior year, will be beneficial to students as they work to hone their skills.

“I want to see them learn every aspect of the news industry,” she said. “This is not just about sitting in front of a camera reading a teleprompter.”

Gartner said she will encourage students to continually look for ways to improve the news broadcast. She also wants to see continuing cooperation between the newscast, the Daily Egyptian, SIUC’s student-run newspaper, and the School of Journalism. She would also like to see more use of the Internet and technology.