Conference draws Emerson students, faculty

by Beacon Staff • November 3, 2011

strongKatie Prisco-Buxbaum, Beacon Staff/strong

Each year, a handful of Emerson students travel to the National Communication Association’s annual convention to provide coverage on panels involving trends in communication.

This year, Emerson will be at the forefront of the conference, as students continue to report on events and work with faculty to create more of a web presence at the conference.

Dr. Richard West, chair of the communication studies department and vice president of the NCA, will be the first Emerson faculty member to become the president of the organization this January.

“It’s quite the academic coup,” West said of the NCA. “It places Emerson in a very strategic position. We’re already one of the top communication schools, but this will position us even further in the national and international stage.”

Students will report for The Press Project, a website created by associate professor of communication Dr. Gregory Payne to document happenings at the conference. Payne began the project in 2005, when he served as public relations chair for the NCA, and said he has improved the website to include podcasts, broadcast segments, and blogs.

“Instead of Inside Hollywood, it is Inside NCA,” said Payne.

The NCA is the largest professional association in the country dedicated to communication and the study of communication, with members from around the world, according to its website. Based in Washington D.C., the NCA works with other for profit and non-profit communication organizations globally, studies communication, and practices communication, said West.

This year’s conference will be held in New Orleans Nov. 17-20.

Alex Castillo, a senior political communication major, is one of the eight students attending the conference as part of The Press Project. These students will blog, create video segments, interview speakers and community members during the conference, and according to Castillo, the group is still in the process of coordinating.

“We’re figuring out how we want to approach the conference,” said Castillo. “We want to cover some topics [such as] lifestyle and what to do in the city and what it’s like to be a part of the conference.”

Kaitlin Barnes, a second semester graduate student studying communication management, will also be part of the Project. She said they want to not only interview people at the conference, but to gauge thr impact the conference has on the community.

Barnes said she heard about the program through friends and Payne approached her this year about participating.

“It will give me more of an experience in a reporter situation,” said Barnes, as opposed to purely focusing on communication management.

Several Emerson faculty will attend the conference as guest speakers and mediators for the Press Project, including dean of the school of communication Janis Andersen, Technology Director Jonathan Satriale, and associate professor Janet Kolodzy.

“Students learn to create multimedia journalism on a very tight deadline,” said Satriale, who has been involved in the program since 2006. “The goal is always to cover as much as possible.”

Kolodzy, managing editor for the website, said she believes covering the conference is a unique opportunity for students in all majors.

“It encompasses all of the various areas of communication that Emerson offers,” said Kolodzy. She said the conference could be more inclusive than a conference just on journalism or just on communication.

NCA member and presenter, Val Fabj, said that both Emerson faculty and alumni have been very involved in NCA for a long time, and that she is happy to see student involvement.

“Having a web presence is important and [Emerson students] do a good job of that,” said Fabj. “The on-spot interviews are not things that are typically covered, and it is a helpful highlight to what is going on at the conference.”

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