New Faculty: Amy Zerba
Assistant Journalism Professor Amy Zerba, JM 1996 & MAMC 2003, always had her eye on coming back to the University of Florida. Last fall, after earning her doctorate degree in journalism at the University of Texas at Austin in December of 2009 and working a stint at CNN.com in Atlanta, she returned to the College to teach in the Journalism Department and continue her research on the news habits of young adults.
“I always wanted to come back here,” said Zerba. “UF was always on my radar.”
Zerba specializes in teaching multimedia storytelling skills and devices in applied and visual journalism courses and is researching young adults’ motives behind media use, news avoidances and expectations of hard news.
- Favorite movies?
“Hoosiers” is my all-time favorite. I can watch that film as if I don’t know the ending every time. Other movies include “Up,” “Monsters Inc.,” “Shawshank Redemption,” “Crash” and “Mona Lisa Smile.”
- Favorite food?
Burrito Brothers. Yes, I know it’s not a “favorite food,” but it should be. And that’s saying a lot from someone who spent six years eating Mexican food in Texas.
- Beach or mountains?
Beach. Nothing beats a day spent at the beach – with sunscreen, of course.
- Music you enjoy?
Meaningful music. I do like songs that make me think. I listen to artists Lady Antebellum, OneRepublic, Natasha Bedingfield, Matt Nathanson, Amos Lee, Pink and John Legend. And songs that have a beat you can dance to, like artists Taio Cruz, the Black Eyed Peas, Far East Movement and Usher.
- What publications do you read?
CNN.com, Mashable and CNET regularly – all online.
“For the past 10 years I’ve been studying young adults and their news habits and non-news habits,” Zerba said. “The Millennials – those born between 1982 and 2002 – are searchers of news. If they hear something, they go find it, but they’re not regular readers of news.
“I had a lot of curiosities about journalism that could not be answered in a newsroom,” Zerba continued. “Why are young people turning away from print newspapers and news in general? If news were more interactive and engaging, would more young people follow the news? My curiosities are what brought me to graduate school.”
The search committee believed Amy’s curiosities and interests would make a great addition to the journalism students’ experience. “Zerba really brings a different perspective to our Journalism faculty,” said Dean John Wright. “Her research on better understanding young adults’ expectations of hard news stories is very important in the training of our own students. We need to look to our own students for ideas for change.”
For Zerba, it’s nice to be back at UF. “I was born in Gainesville, so I’m a true native and both of my parents graduated from UF. My father, Ray Zerba, has worked as a horticulture extension agent for the University for almost 35 years. So being a Gator runs in my family.”
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