Tuesday, November 18, 2014

SPJ holds successful panel discussion at Thomas More College

By Alex Valentine
The Society of Professional Journalists held a panel discussion in the Chancellor’s Room of Thomas More College on Wednesday, October 29. Over 30 students attended the event. Communication majors at Thomas More College had the opportunity to ask various members of the media field about their day-to-day procedures and the ever-changing nature of their careers.

The panel included a wide range of employees in the media field, all of whom were informative and articulate about the requirements for success in the world of Communications. Bowdeya Tweh, journalist for the Cincinnati Enquirer, served as moderator for the event. Katherine Nero of WCPO Channel 9 News informed students about broadcast media, while Kevin Osborne, Director of Communications for Cincinnati Mayor Cranley, provided the public relations angle. Having worked in various branches of media for over 50 years, Emil Dansker served as the panel czar.

The resonating message of the discussion was to never stop learning. Mr. Dansker had the most memorable quote of the day, stating that, “Nothing is irrelevant to a journalist.” He and the rest of the panel emphasized this point. Members of the media must resemble sponges, soaking up all new information with which they come into contact, because some day they will likely need it.

Katherine Nero described the drastically changing world of broadcast media. First hired at WCPO in 1998, she had a unique perspective on how the requirements of the field have grown, particularly with the explosion of social media. Before the days of Twitter and Facebook, Mrs. Nero explained, news stations would often postpone the breaking of a big story for the evening news, as this time slot garnered the most viewers. Today news stations almost always break the story on social media, as this is the quickest and most effective way to reach a mass audience. Mrs. Nero emphasized that a social media presence for members of news media is not just encouraged, but essential in today’s fast-paced world.

The panel also discussed the importance of critical thinking skills in the field of media. As the primary focus of news outlets shifts from accuracy to speed, journalists and reporters still must weigh the credibility of their sources, and report the story accordingly. Nothing blemishes a news outlet’s reputation faster than putting stock into a poor source and reporting vital information incorrectly. In this new, often sensationalized world of news, journalists and reporters must still have the ability to filter through non-experts and bad information.

Thomas More College has adopted a new “Experiential Learning” initiative for the 2014-2015 school year, requiring all incoming students to serve in an internship or co-op in their major field before graduating. This initiative is intended to better prepare students for life after college, and help them understand the different doors that are opened by obtaining their degree. The SPJ panel discussion provided a valuable opportunity for Communication students at Thomas More to see their future degrees at work in the world of media.