Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects


School of Journalism and Broadcasting

Document Type



During a time when news is fast, frequent and easier to find than ever, it has become harder for news outlets to not only generate revenue but to establish a need with their readers. Sponsored content pieces, also referred to as native advertising, have offered creative solutions to this problem for student media groups and professional news outlets across the country.

Using WKU’s first-ever content agency, Cherry Creative, as a case study and by analyzing various other news outlets in the U.S., this project aims to develop a series of recommendations for the future of Cherry Creative and student media, at large.

The qualitative approach used for this project used methods ranging from phone interviews with professional news outlets to video chats with creative directors, and advertising managers at student media. Peer reviewed journals were also referenced for trends in sponsored content today. Many publications refused taking part in the study because it was being published, excluding much insight and influential brands in the industry.

The results benefitted WKU Student Publications and presented future journalism students with alternative career options. This project also addresses ethical concerns of professionals in the field when considering the combination of editorial content and advertising.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Mac McKerral


Journalism Studies | Public Relations and Advertising