The university’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists hosted a panel discussion in conjunction with the Atlanta Press Club the morning of Saturday, March 26.
Held in Kennesaw State University’s Social Sciences building, the event was called “Get the Scoop” and featured three working journalists who answered questions from the audience about the ins and outs of working in the field. According to Dr. Carolyn Carlson, a communication professor at KSU and adviser to its SPJ chapter, around 50 students attended the event, most from KSU. Two students were from Georgia State University, and there were also two high school students in the crowd hoping to learn more about the profession. Carlson says this was one of this SPJ chapter’s biggest events in at least a year.
“This is the first time we’ve ever had the Atlanta Press Club do something at Kennesaw State, so that was very exciting,” she said. “Having such a good turnout was a good thing.”
The panel included three journalists from a variety of areas. Elly Yu is a reporter for WABE, Atlanta’s National Public Radio station, where she actually began as an intern after graduate school. Roger Newton graduated from KSU and now works at the Center for Sustainable Journalism as a video editor. Christina Lee is a freelance music journalist who has covered the Atlanta Hawks and OutKast and submitted pieces to Creative Loafing and The Guardian, among others.
From how to handle emotional interviews to the pros and cons of working in freelance, the panelists answered questions about journalism in the real world for over an hour and a half.
“Everyone was excited, and they looked really engaged,” Bishop Nesby, president of KSU’s chapter of SPJ, said.
Nesby is a senior majoring in communication with a concentration in journalism. He attributes much of the event’s success to the enthusiasm of Lee, Yu and Newton.
“Our panelists did a wonderful job,” Nesby said. “They were very personable once we got into the networking setting.”
The networking lunch was the last portion of the event. After the Q&A session, students were treated to a free lunch and were invited to sit with the panelists, who were each seated at separate tables. This setup allowed students the freedom to introduce themselves briefly or sit down for a conversation over lunch, whichever they preferred. Each of the panelists stayed and chatted with students for over an hour, giving them a chance to ask more questions or exchange business cards.
“I was very impressed with how interested the students were and how much they wanted to learn about being a working journalist,” Jay Lawrence said. He is a board member with the Atlanta Press Club, and he was also excited about the number of attendees.
“The turnout was great, more than we expected,” he said. “We were really glad to see so many students give up their Saturday for this.”
According to Carlson, KSU’s chapter of SPJ has plans to continue this trend and see even larger crowds.
“We’re talking with the Atlanta Press Club about doing this annually, so hopefully we’ll have another big event next year,” she said.
Lawrence agreed and lit up at the prospect of returning to the campus.
“Absolutely, we want to come back to KSU,” he said.
Disclaimer: The writer of this article is the secretary of KSU’s chapter of SPJ.