The Marvelous Annenberg School at USC


Jacob Flowers

Students in the Journalism and Strategic Communications pathways had the one-of-a-kind opportunity to tour the Annenberg School of Journalism and Communications at USC on Friday.

Upon stepping off the bus, students found themselves immersed in a world filled to the brim with Roman-esque architecture. Hulking brick goliaths lined pristine asphalt roads as chaperones led students to the second floor of the Annenberg campus. College students nonchalantly meandered to their classes with clothes reminiscent of a typical high schooler. To many, USC could be considered the paradigm university with its turn-of-the-century aesthetic and gorgeous design. Among the gardens and ancient buildings, however, lays a spectacle of the modern age: the Wallis Annenberg Hall.

Founded in 1971, the Annenberg school is home to 2,300 graduates and undergraduates according to the official USC Annenberg website. Despite its age, the campus is fairly new. In fact, the Wallis Annenberg Hall, or ANN, was recently completed in 2014, adding an innovative marvel of humanity onto a sprawling canvas of red bricks.

Before students had the opportunity to properly tour the mesmerizing four-story campus, chaperones ushered them into a presentation room where they had the opportunity to learn about USC’s Beacon Project and its profound impact. Sasha Urban and Austin Peay, two investigative journalists who wrote groundbreaking articles on USC’s controversies, offered advice regarding law, conduct and overcoming personal uncertainty to DVC’s aspiring journalists.

“Ask for help on everything and don’t be scared to do it,” Sasha Urban said when talking about the writing process, “That’s what journalism is all about.”

Both of them talked in-depth about their struggles writing about such controversial and heavy topics. Students faces were painted with perturbed expressions as Urban and Peay both discussed the difficulties associated with such a sensitive subject.

“Take care of yourself,” Peay said, “Writing about something heavy can take a toll on you.”

As their profoundly insightful presentation drew to a close, the room erupted with applause. A roar of pleasant nonsense overcame the room as the projector displayed a beautiful picture of Annenberg, filling the void left by the controversial articles that were there minutes prior. Shortly after, students found themselves in the middle of yet another presentation generously provided by students and faculty members at Annenberg.

After a short video presentation on the benefits of applying to Annenberg, the panel of students took the stage to provide further insight into life at Annenberg. According to them, USC has a great financial aid program readily available to both undergraduate and graduate students.

“They make it really affordable,” junior Chandler France said regarding his experience with financial aid.

All of them continued describing their positive experiences being students at Annenberg. Junior Amy Wang described the unique “hands-on experience” offered while the others preached the importance of time-management and staying on top of grades.

“USC really caters to what you want to do,” junior Arielle Rubin said about the programs offered by Annenberg.

Following the conclusion of the panel, students finally had the opportunity to tour the campus with the juniors they interviewed. One by one, small groups of students were led out of the presentation room and onto the main campus. As they walked through the clear glass doors, students immersed themselves in the hustle and bustle of Annenberg’s beating heart.

Students were greeted by the centerpiece upon entry, a hulking behemoth of a media wall that showcased a plethora of news and tweets. The sleek sheen of the tile floor perfectly complemented the Bohemian style of the futuristic structure. Students traversed the forest of voices as they thoroughly explored every nook and cranny of the ANN. Inexplicably intricate aesthetic elements collided with the interwoven technology to create this ineffable coffee shop atmosphere unique only to Annenberg. 

As the small groups finished touring the hodgepodge of eccentricity, the guides finally led them to the newsroom. Juniors and seniors from both pathways found themselves submerged in a technological labyrinth and they crossed the threshold from the main atrium. In front of them hung a hypnotic ring of televisions adorned with clocks and wires like a chandelier of flashing media. A multitude of devices left at other people’s disposal littered desks all around the newsroom. Small art pieces were occasionally stapled to walls to defy the monotony, but almost every object in the newsroom was a testament to the brilliance of man.

As students left the campus enlightened about the future, they lost themselves in awe-inspired chatter. A gentle hush of conversation radiated from the line of enthralled students as they navigated the shadowy campus. The fountains fired geysers of crystal clear water skyward like hands waving the students farewell. As the brick facade of USC faded from behind the departing bus, one statement permeated throughout the students’ minds.  

“Annenberg is like a family,” Chandler said.