Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The 59th Annual Southern Regional Press Institute

Each year Savannah State University’s Mass Communications Department hosts The Southern Regional Press Institute, a 2-day conference, that provides students with the opportunity to attend workshops facilitated by industry professionals, learn from, and network with those persons for further insight about what it takes to be successful in the communications industry. Although students are free to attend workshops of their choice, many students choose to attend workshops that are related to their concentration.
This year's conference, "Investigative Reporting: Utilizing New Media," took place on February 25-26, in John F. Kennedy Fine Arts Building at Savannah State University.

The opening session speaker, Susan Catron, Savannah Morning News Executive Editor, dispelled a number of new opportunities available for people interested in the field of communications to break into. New media was heard in nearly each workshop as facilitators informed, persuaded and taught attendees about what they should expect from the industry.

The hustle and bustle heard in the hallways, the distribution of business cards, along with the clipped conversations between students and workshop leaders, was heard each day from nearly 9 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon.

At the conference luncheon, Betty Baye, a columnist at the Louisville - Courier Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), spoke to students, faculty, staff, and guests, admonishing them to find their calling and walk it out. With her words, Baye encouraged listeners to work whatever gift they have, and build on the natural talent by keeping a book in hand and a mind that is always in pursuit of learning something new, especially with the coming age of new media. Being proud and humbled by where she came from, Baye reminded students to never forget their struggle to become successful, in their talent; the struggle will make one appreciate the success even more.

With all of the professional/student involvement with the Southern Regional Press Institute, the 2-day conference only scratches the surface of what students will contend with upon entering the work field.

Once the conference ends, it is just as important as attending the conference to begin with. Now, students should follow up with the contacts they made at the conference with a phone call or e-mail. Networking does not end with the conference. Whether it is sending an e-mail every so often, or placing a phone call every few months just to touch bases with that professional, make the connection last. Students should ask professionals whether they are willing to review and critique work for their portfolio, to better their work and craft as much as possible.

Remember, some of what is in the books was industry standard years ago, with new media, industry standard is updating and changing more quickly than ever before, so students should prepare themselves now for the door that technology will open for them next.

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