Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania hosted its fair share of big-name media professionals this past weekend at the first ever PASSHE Collegiate Media Summit. Media students representing their respective schools’ newspapers, radio, TV stations, and other student media outlets gathered from universities across the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) at BU for the conference. Over 200 people registered to attend this event.
To be honest, as a freshman, with no concrete idea of what to do in Mass Communications, I wasn’t really expecting to get much more than just information from experts. I wasn’t even planning on staying for the entirety of the two days. My mind changed pretty quickly when the opening speaker, investigative journalist Andy Mehalshick, gave his presentation. Mehalshick’s presentation focused on his own extensive coverage of the Penn State sex scandal. While journalism is not my primary interest, Mehalshick exuded excitement and passion about his career that he conveyed to the audience with stories of the many good times and challenges he had in journalism. He set the mood for the entire rest of the conference, getting everyone excited to get involved and ask questions.
The presentations to follow continued on the momentum that Mehalshick created. Speakers from all areas of the mass communications community spoke, and I had the privilege of hearing from young upstart public relations executives Katrina Foster, president and founder of KKPR marketing and public realations and Vince Benedetto, owner of the Bold Gold media group and former counter-intelligence specialist for the US military. Quite a few of the featured speakers were Bloomsburg graduates, such as Ted Hodgins, the Senior Director of Video Production for Comcast, and Jeremy Powlus, a Google-trusted photographer. In fact, a handful of current Bloomsburg students accompanied the professors from our very own Mass Communications department in their presentations to talk about how they already have a jump start on internships and media careers.
From listening and talking to other students at the conference, it was clear that I wasn’t the only one impressed. Everyone in attendance seemed to be having a really great time, excitedly moving from session to session, eager to hear what insight the next speaker would offer.
I did end up staying for the entirety of both days, but the conference flew by. At the end of an exhausting two days, keynote speaker Sree Sreenivasan, chief digital officer at Columbia University who appears regularly on CNN, talked to the attendees about the power of social media in businesses and its critical importance in our lives. To close, Ken Marshall, Media Relations manager for PASSHE, asked one question of the hugely successful media summit: “What are we going to do for an encore?”
Of course, anyone who attended the conference has the hope that the PASSHE Collegiate Media Summit will become an annual event. To everyone’s surprise, PSECU stepped in and has agreed to sponsor $10,000 for the next two years. I sincerely hope that in future years the conference lives on and blossoms into something even bigger than it was this time around.