Union Hosts Southeast Journalism Conference

More than 300 student journalists, media communicators and their advisers from around the South will gather at Union University Feb. 21-23 to hear award-winning media professionals discuss media in the 21st century at the 2013 Southeast Journalism Conference.

Students will represent 25 universities in seven states, including such schools as Vanderbilt University, Auburn University, Samford University, Louisiana Tech University and the universities of Alabama, Mississippi, Memphis and West Florida.

“SEJC is traditionally hosted by much larger state universities,” said Ashley Blair, SEJC president and assistant professor of communication arts at Union. “It is an honor to host as a peer institution to these great schools and have the opportunity to return the hospitality we have enjoyed attending SEJC over the years.”

The 27th annual conference’s nine sessions will explore the theme, “The Power of Narrative: Journalism in the Digital Era.”

SEJCSpeakers will range from national to local media professionals, including Kim Lawton, managing editor and correspondent for PBS’s Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, and Steve Coffman, executive editor and director of content and audience development for the Jackson Sun.

“The theme of the conference allows us to explore the core values of storytelling while considering the challenges and opportunities the digital age brings to the profession,” Blair said. “As journalism transitions from traditional to digital experiences, it is important to reexamine its still vital foundation.”

Students will put their skills to the test Friday afternoon, during the annual Onsite Competition. Working as individuals or as small groups under a time limit, entrants from the schools will complete challenges in 11 categories: news writing, entertainment writing, sports writing, editorial writing, copy editing, page design, TV news reporting, photography, communication law, public relations campaign and public relations crisis.

At a banquet Friday evening, University of Alabama faculty will reveal “The Best of the South” awards, denoting the best college newspaper, best student writers and best student photographers in the South. In 2011, Union won Best Newspaper in the South and in 2012 received 14 awards, the school’s highest number to date.