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Eric Mansfield Discusses His Career Change

By Rich Heldenfels Published: March 21, 2012

Here's the work in progress I'm preparing about his move from TV news to media relations at Kent State:

WKYC’s man in Akron is heading to Kent.
Eric Mansfield, long the Akron reporter for WKYC (Channel 3) and the anchor of a former Akron-based newscast, is leaving Cleveland NBC affiliate WKYC (Channel 3) for a job at Kent State University.

Beginning June 1, he will fill the newly created position of executive director of university media relations, Mansfield said Wednesday. “I’ll be working with journalists on behalf of Kent State every day, working with them on getting good stories out about Kent State and things going on there. ... I’ll also be teaching in the journalism school — not sure how many hours yet, but that’s also part of the deal.”

Mansfield joined WKYC in 1994 as an Akron reporter after two years with WAKC (Channel 23), now WVPX. He also  anchored a newscast focusing on Akron and Canton which WKYC produced for WVPX and then Time Warner Cable from 2001 to 2008. He is currently a weekend anchor for WKYC as well as a reporter.

He said Kent State approached him about three weeks ago “about an idea they had about expanding the media relations department,”

“It’s a great opportunity,” said Mansfield, 43. “I’ve been in TV for 20 years, the last 18 at Channel 3, and I’m ready for a change.” WKYC has seen a lot of changes of late — including the departures of Romona Robinson and Mark Nolan, and the arrival of former CBS newsman Russ Mitchell. But Mansfield said those were not a factor in his decision.

“Channel 3 has been very good to me,” he said. “This will provide more time for me to be with my family. ... I want to be off more when my kids have plays and performances. I miss an awful lot of that.”

And he had been thinking beyond TV news. He will complete work on a master’s degree in public relations at Kent State in the fall. (He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Dayton.) He pursued the degree in part because, as an Ohio National Guard major with Iraq war experience, “I qualified for college benefits ... (and) that kind of told me I should use them.” At the same time, he said, “I’ve tried to keep my options open. Broadcasting has been going through a lot of changes, and I wanted to make sure I was best prepared for whatever the future might hold.”

Mansfield would not discuss his contract with WKYC beyond saying “I’m at a point where I can leave, and the station has blessed ... this, and so has Kent State.”

Rita Andolsen, news director at WKYC, said, “I wish him well. I think the world of Eric, and this is a great opportunity.” She said she had not yet decided what to do about replacing him.

Mansfield said he is looking forward to teaching journalism.

“There’s only so much you can learn in journalism school,” he said. “You learn so much being in a working newsroom. And today’s newsrooms are a lot smaller, but a lot more is expected of you. So I’ll be able to go in there and talk to them about really being a hybrid — in that they bring more to a job opportunity than just knowing how to write. That they also take pictures. That they also know about sports and weather. That they also know about social media. ... There’s more now than just meeting that one deadline every day. ... For the last three years, I’ve shot my own stories pretty much every day,” he said.

“I think the one thing that I want to drive home to (students) now is that, unlike when I came out of college, there is nobody there to teach you. You get to a newsroom now, you’ve got to know what you’re doing on Day One. The mentors that used to be around when I started and could help me cut my teeth ... are gone. ... So the more they can learn in college, the better they’ll do.”

As for going into media relations, for many journalists that’s the same as going to the dark side.

“I keep wondering, am I going to the dark side or leaving the dark side?” Mansfield said. “I guess it depends on who you talk to. I have great respect for people in public relations,” he said, adding that his master’s was “so I could have a better understanding of what PR is about. ... This is an opportunity where I think I can grow and could be there (at Kent) for a long time.”

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