The 71st Virtual Regional Press Institute of the South ignites the JMC department | News

An HBCU takes pride in the traditions and accomplishments it offers to students and the community. Savannah State University offers students many opportunities to succeed in their future careers after graduation. The Department of Journalism and Mass Communication held its 71st Southern Regional Press Institute from Thursday, February 24 to Friday, February 25 with various academic sessions. SRPI is a conference for students to connect with professionals in the fields of multimedia, public relations and journalism.

The theme of this year’s conference was “The New Order: The Post-COVID World of Information and Communication and George Floyd”. The theme highlighted the impact of the COVID pandemic and the murder and trial of George Floyd on many journalists, reporters and filmmakers. The event kicked off virtually for the second time Thursday at 9:00 a.m. with keynote speaker, co-founder and director of the Social Media Research Foundation, Dr. Marc Smith.

Dr. Marc Smith discussed the interest of individuals using computers to communicate with each other. His foundation is non-profit and based in California, where his team creates software to help non-programmer voices form a useful opinion on social media. Dr. Smith is also a sociologist and uses sociology to dissect social media in smaller perspectives. Her workshop focuses on how social media can be seen from a sociological perspective and using that perspective to improve the way we use and produce social media.

“We want to enable non-programmers to access social media datasets and tell stories about them that are empirically based. Which have quantifiable objective bases, which can be validated by other people, something you can share with someone and say “test my result”, said Dr. Marc Smith about the basis of his foundation.

The sessions started on Thursday and ended on Friday, there were eight sessions focusing on multimedia, journalism and public relations:

Session I: “Race, Covid, and Reporting: A Snapshot on How These Events Changed How We Anchor and Report” with Amber Grigley, new presenter and reporter at WKRG 5-News; Asha Gilbert, Online Content Producer at USA Today; Sydnee Little, executive producer at WWSB; Dawn Baker, presenter at the WTOC; Greg Coy, presenter and reporter at WJCL; Edward Moody, presenter and journalist at WSAV; and Wanda Lloyd, retired editor.

Session II: “Organizational Awareness: Discussing Public Relations Tactics During the Race and Health Crisis” with Jasmine Sam-Jackson, Ph.D, Director of Public Relations at FrontRow Public Relations, LLC; Ronald T. Jones Sheilds II, Clayton County Public Schools Communications Specialist; Catalina Garcia-Quick, president of First City Public Relations; and Dr. Serajul Bhuiyan, professor at SSU.

Session III: “Challenges and Opportunities for Reporters Post Covid” with Brandy Simpkins, freelance journalist; Xavier McKnight, senior producer at ABC WWSB-TV; Briana Collier, Communications Specialist with the City of Richmond Hill; and Dr. Vicki Brown, assistant professor at SSU.

Session IV: “Status of the Film Industry Post-Covid” with Beth Nelson, Executive Director of the Southern Regional Film Commission; Arzoo Raina, assistant at CW and Warner Brothers; and Mr. Will Martin, Director of WTRT-TV at SSU.

Session V: “What is TikTok and why should PR professionals care?” with Preshus January, Owner and Head of Social Media at Lets P Creative PR, LLC; Dr. Theo Plothe, Ph.D., assistant professor at SSU; and Jasmine Sam-Jackson, Ph.D, director of public relations at FrontRow Public Relations, LLC.

Session VI: “Print and the Role of New Georgia-Based Outlets in Reporting the Ahmaud Arbery Murder Trial” with Tanya Milton, Vice President and Publicity Director at the Savannah Tribune; Raisa Habersham, watchdog and investigative reporter for The Savannah Morning News

Session VII: “LinkedIn: Tools for Professional Advancement” with Frank Mendelson, Acquisitions Editor and Professor at SSU; Robin Sherman, Head of Editorial and Design Services; and Mr. Jason Johnson, Assistant Instructor at SSU.

Session VIII: “Keynote Speaker: Dr. Chuck Wallington, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Communications Officer of Cone Health, Greensboro, NC”

Session IX: “Tips for Entry-Level Jobs – Recent Graduate Reviews (Student Panel – Webex)” with Asha Gilbert, Online Content Producer at USA Today; Xavier McKnight, senior producer at ABC WWSB-TV; Arzoo Raina, assistant at CW and Warner Brothers; Neisha Rogers, founder and producer of Freed Minds Productions; and Arabia Turner, public relations intern at BRAVE Public Relations.

Session X: “Journalism, Social Media and Grassroots Movements” with Dr. Theo Plothe, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at SSU; Bria Bolden, multimedia journalist at WTOC-TV; Lee Ivory, president of Ivoire Communications; and Krystal Hart, public relations consultant and writer at Sparrow Communications.

Session XI: “Producing Content Remotely” with Asha Gilbert, Online Content Producer at USA Today; Wanda Lloyd, retired editor; Neisha Rogers, founder and producer of Freed Minds Productions; Shantez Herrington, media technician; Chavis Carter, lecturer and television studio assistant at NCU; and Adam Van Brimmer, opinion content editor at Savannah Morning News.

Session XII: “Covering the Ahmaud Arbery Murder Trial (Student Group)” with Mr. Jason Johnson, Assistant Instructor at SSU; Eden Turner, student at SSU; Kalel Akins, student at SSU; and SSU student Reanna Haynes.

Session XIII, with Nakia Stephens as keynote speaker, ignited a crowd full of proud faculty and staff and mesmerized students. Stephens was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, but is an alumnus of SSU as well as an alumnus of the JMC department. She is currently an award-winning independent screenwriter and filmmaker.

Nakia Stephens has accomplished so much in her life like Cream x Coffee and been featured in RollingOut Magazine. The panel was an inspiration to JMC students and a reflection of Savannah State’s slogan, “You can go anywhere from here!”

The 71st SRPI conference concluded with student networking with SSU alumni, professionals and international colleagues. Mr. Kareem McMichael, Head of Online and Content at SSU, led the conference for the consecutive time, breaking down barriers by creating a refreshing virtual networking environment for students and professionals.

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