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Q&A with PhD Student Jason Stamm

The College of Communications and Information offers students the opportunity to receive a PhD with the five separate concentrations, which include advertising, journalism and electronic media, public relations, information sciences, and communications studies. Students are ensured a well-rounded education, as they must complete a core curriculum before progressing on to their chosen concentration. The PhD program is designed for students who anticipate pursuing a career with a research-intensive establishment.

Jason Stamm is working towards a PhD with a concentration in journalism. When he is not completing coursework, he dedicates his time as a Graduate Student Assistant in the School of Journalism and Electronic Media. Prior to attending UT, Stamm worked in sports editing and publishing, where he covered teams such as Western Kentucky University, as well as Virginia Tech. He received his undergraduate degree from Western Kentucky University in 2007 and obtained his master’s degree from Radford University in 2017.

What are your career goals?

After I graduate from UT with my PhD, I plan to teach in academia at the assistant professor level. You never know where opportunities can come from, so I’m open to something else that could come around. But for now, it’s to be an assistant professor in journalism or a related position.

Why did you decide to complete your PhD at UT? What has been your favorite part of your time here?

There were numerous reasons I chose UT. I love the reputation the journalism program has and the faculty that make up the School of Journalism and Electronic Media. But honestly, I found that out even more since I’ve been here. I’ve been blessed to have worked with Dr. Erin Whiteside, who’s my advisor and dissertation chair. She has become a mentor in so many ways and I owe much of where I am in the program to her. My favorite part has been working with my students in the classes I teach. The greatest reward I’ve received is seeing them go on to achieve some great things. I had one student whom I recently wrote a letter of recommendation for and seeing her get into graduate school to work on her masters’ degree was incredibly rewarding and one of the highlights for sure. It’s a reminder of why I chose the path I did.

How do you balance your time between completing a PhD and being a GTA? Do you have any time management tips?

It’s tough. I also have two kids, ages one and four, and it’s a lot to handle at times. It’s all about planning and keeping track, which for me, is thanks to the calendar on my phone. Getting regular notifications for me is a godsend. Otherwise, I’d be lost for sure. I’d suggest not procrastinating as best as you can and trying to knock multiple things out at once. For instance, I’ve tried to gear classes and class papers toward my dissertation and conference presentations and publications. That’s not always possible, but it requires forward-thinking for sure.

Why did you decide to become a GTA? What is a typical day like?

A typical day is staring a lot at a computer screen (laughs). Seriously, though, it involves a lot of time reading, researching and writing. I’ve tried to be regimented with class by putting together the next week’s lecture and recording at about the same time every Friday. Trying to get some type of routine is crucial, so you remember everything you have to do. Then, because there’s always something to do, it’s using any free time grading, researching, whatever you can do for even a few minutes.

What would you say has been your favorite part of working as a sports editor? What drew you to the job?

I’ve covered college football and basketball in some capacity for 12 years. I was publisher of a site first for Rivals.com, then for the now-defunct Scout.com, covering Virginia Tech athletics from 2012 to 2017. I had planned on fulfilling my contract, which ran through 2019, but that changed when Scout went bankrupt, and I lost my job in early 2017. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise as I soon got accepted to UT. Looking back, it would have been too much to run that site full time AND be a Ph.D student. I had no idea what I was getting into. 

Because of my contacts, I had two other sites reach out to me, one which asked me to be the managing editor of the Rivals.com site covering Cincinnati, the other as the recruiting writer for an independent site covering Virginia Tech. I saw it as a golden opportunity to remain connected to the industry, with much lower time commitments and to make a little money on the side. I love still being able to interview and write about student-athletes and coaches and getting a few opportunities to still cover live sports on location. The best part so far was getting to cover Cincinnati’s men’s basketball team in the 2018 NCAA Tournament in Nashville. It was the third NCAA Tournament I’d covered, and for a sports junkie like me, there’s nothing better than getting to watch basketball all day.

Do you have a dream sports team you would like to edit for? 

At this point, I’m not looking to cover anyone I don’t already. It’s been an awesome career getting to cover multiple NCAA Tournaments, big events like the 2016 Battle at Bristol, and traveling to various football and basketball games. I think the top gig for most mainstream sports writers would be the NFL. There aren’t as many games, so they’re all big. I never envy baseball writers who in a normal season, cover 162 games, plus spring training and the playoffs. That’s an overload.