On October 20 and 21, 2018, the IUP Journalism and Public Relations Department hosted the 2018 Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education
Collegiate Media Summit.
Michele Papakie, chairwoman of the Journalism and Public Relations
Department, started off the welcoming remarks. She noted the importance of taking risks on students and trusting them to do the great work they have been preparing to do. She felt that there were chances taken on her, so she owed that same trust to
her students. Kathleen “Katie” Mest (Journalism and PR) was one of these students, designing the program and assisting in promotion of the event. She was thankful for the opportunity to help organize the summit and attend it.
When asked why the summit was important to her, Mest said, “With technology constantly changing, it is especially helpful to hear from people in the current industry instead of learning everything just through our textbooks.” She continued, “It also provided
a great networking experience for attendees in a friendly, more intimate atmosphere.”
Other students who contributed to the success of the summit were Catharyn “Meghan” Pilch and Candace Howell (both Journalism and PR summer interns), who not only developed the website, but also assisted in the planning and execution of the event; Samantha
“Sammi” Pilch (English), the official photographer; Rachel Brieve (Journalism and PR), who promoted the event via social media and tabling on campus; and finally, Lee Vest (art history and secretary of Journalism and PR), who handled all of the speakers’
arrangements, the room reservations, the food, and much, much more.
IUP President Michael Driscoll followed Papakie,
closing his statement with a quote from President John Adams: “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” This quote helped to emphasize
Driscoll’s belief that those studying journalism have a responsibility to tell the truth without bias. He said, “One way to assure that you are truthful is to be authentic. Sometimes being truthful and authentic, requires you to be brave.”
That theme of bravery continued with the keynote speech given by Wendy Bell (pictured below). Bell is a former WTAE anchorwoman, a 21-time Emmy Award winner, and a four-time Edward R. Murrow Award winner. She is also the founder of PositivelyWendyBell.com.
Bell’s speech centered around living your story and telling the stories you
want to tell. She said, “Not all detours in life are bad, but what you do with it defines your path, who you are, and where you are going.” She stressed that where you are in 20 years might not be where you thought you would be, and that is okay.
Rachel Brieve (social media and tabling) thought it was refreshing to hear stories such as Bell’s. “She spoke of perseverance through hardships and coming out on top,” Brieves said. “As students, I feel that we are always bogged down with negatives such
as ‘there aren’t jobs in our field,’ or ‘things are too competitive.’ Hearing something like this was a departure from that and made me more excited about my future rather than worried.”
A main focus of Bell was the ability of stories to make a difference and an impact, “leaving a little fairy-dust on our hearts.” One of these stories was that of Neil Alexander, a businessman from Pittsburgh who was diagnosed with ALS in 2013. Bell followed
Alexander’s story from his diagnosis to his death in March 2015. Bell showed several vignettes she created telling his story. (You can watch one here.)
The story of Neil Alexander was emotional and is difficult to watch, but Bell and the Alexanders wanted to tell it to make a difference for those who are faced with the disease in the future. The Alexanders began the Live Like Lou Foundation, named after Lou Gehrig, who was diagnosed with the disease in 1939. The organization has raised millions of dollars used to both support ALS research and ALS patients and their families.
There were many other professionals and alumni at the event who hosted panels and workshops for participants. Some of these included: “Law and Ethics of Reporting,”
featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Susan Snyder (Philadelphia Inquirer), author/reporter Paula Reed Ward (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), and reporter Megan Guza (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and TribLIVE.com); “Using
Extra-Curricular Activities to Build a Portfolio,” featuring Kenn Marshall (Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education) and Michelle Fryling (IUP); and, “Being Persistent: Turn ‘I Think I Can’ into ‘I Know I Can,’” featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning
photographer and author of the book Delta Jewels, Alysia Steele (University of Mississippi).
Sponsors of the event included: Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union, The Elizabeth Ray Sweeney Endowment Fund, IUP Free Speech Project, IUP English Department, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education,
Randy Jesick, Erick Lauber, Stanford Mukasa, and the IUP Communications Media Department.