Members of Pegasus Creative, Oglethorpe’s student communications agency, recently attended Georgia State University‘s second annual Modern Media Conference as part of our field study internship requirement. The Pegasus team included Twain Carter ’14, Christie Pearce ’15 and me, Lyssa Beck ’14. Also attending were Tali Schroeder ’16, editor of the Stormy Petrel student newspaper, and Debbie Aiken ’12, assistant director in University Communications.
Conference attendees were encouraged to participate in a variety of seminars about journalism, marketing, photography, music, etc. Each seminar was unique and the openness of the speakers was surprising and welcome.
The conference began with featured speaker Monica Pearson, retired anchor and reporter for WSB-TV in Atlanta. Pearson focused on accountability and media and journalists’ responsibility to their audience. She cautioned that there are usually three or more sides to every report. For example, in a story about a car accident, there is the story from the police, the first driver, second driver, any onlookers and the objective truth. Beyond this, the truth is more than the recitation of facts. Pearson emphasized that the truth is found through the comprehensive viewing of these facts while highlighting the unique qualities of the story. She reminded attendees that people care about other people and that the human angle of a story should never be ignored. We were amazed by the number of communications theories we’ve learned in class that we were able to pick out without the speakers specifically mentioning the terms.
One common theme that I noticed throughout the conference was Twitter. Every speaker that I visited had a Twitter account and encouraged everyone to maintain one too. We were also specifically told by Bryce McNeil, the director of the conference, that we should be Tweeting about our experience so it was “okay to have your phones out.” This was surprising at first but gained momentum as students were re-tweeted by the conference’s Twitter account.
Christie Pearce ’15 says that the conference was useful to her because she plans to pursue her Ph.D. in Political Marketing. She stresses that students, regardless of field, can benefit from these conferences because “they are reached by dozens of forms of media every day and there is no doubt that their lives are impacted to some degree by the information they absorb from these sources. Having a knowledge of ‘what goes on on the inside’ will allow you to better filter and understand the information that is constantly flowing around you. And, whether you realize it or not, the more you study media the better your communications skills will get.”