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College of Information and Communications

CIC hosts inaugural Digital Media Academy

Posted June 6, 2019
By Rebekah Friedman, rebekahb@mailbox.sc.edu, 803-576-7270


From journalism to corporate public relations, the ability to create high-quality video content has become a sought-after skill in a variety of industries. Thanks to a new program at the College of Information and Communications, students from diverse backgrounds can now add that skill and others to their resumés.

The CIC’s inaugural Digital Media Academy was held May 13-19 at the School of Journalism and Mass Communications. Here, participants learned the basics of shooting and editing video on their phones, as well as the principles of effective interviewing and storytelling. They also networked with local professionals and got insight from a series of guest speakers.

The event wasn’t just for Gamecocks — students and recent graduates from Columbia College, Claflin University, South Carolina State University and Voorhees College also participated.

“I wanted to learn more about the technical side of things because I’m a public relations major, so I don’t always get to learn about cameras or editing,” says Christal Harvin, a junior from the University of South Carolina. “This was an opportunity for me to hone those skills.”

The Digital Media Academy is similar to programs offered by the University of Georgia and Clemson University. Dean Tom Reichert says each of the three universities offers something different for participants and hopes the three can work together to advance diversity in media.

“Industry leaders are constantly asking us to send them diverse talent,” says Reichert. “The academy is a way for us to meet their needs while also offering a valuable educational experience for underrepresented students from our university and others.”

SJMC assistant professor Kevin Hull and Ph.D. student Denetra Walker led instruction throughout the week. Both worked in broadcast journalism before joining the university and gave the students hands-on training through lessons and exercises. To practice their new skills, participants were divided into teams to work on video projects for presentation at the end of the week.

But the week was about much more than technical skills. 

Longtime broadcasters Judi Gatson and Rick Henry from WIS-TV in Columbia came to campus to share about their career journey and offer advice. Attendees also heard from Boeing’s Meaghan Norman, who explained how video can be used in the corporate PR setting.

Harvin, who has an interest in corporate social responsibility, says she benefitted from the campaign examples Norman provided.

“That’s something that I think will be really helpful for me as I go into CSR, where I can create campaigns that tell a meaningful story through video,” Harvin says.

Off campus, the group visited local communications firm Chernoff Newman, where they learned about the rise of the consumer-based marketing model and saw how the agency uses video to enhance consumer engagement.

“I liked the fact that they brought in real people who actually worked in television, news, social media and public relations,” says Tariq Edwards, a Claflin University student who traveled from Dumfries, Virginia, to attend the academy. “It gave us a real, genuine feel for what this field is like and the different avenues these people took to get to their goals.”

At the end of the week, the five teams presented their videos on campus safety to the three judges: Randy Covington, CIC director of special projects; Shirley Staples Carter, CIC associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion; and alumna Therese Griffin, manager of energy efficiency and demand management for Dominion Energy.

Members of the winning team were Tariq Edwards, Claflin University, Juliet Smith, University of South Carolina, and Shamari White, University of South Carolina. In addition, Dwayne Banks, South Carolina State University, received the Most Engaged DMA Fellow award.

Each participant received a certificate of completion. The college also created a LinkedIn group for the students to keep in touch with each other and academy organizers.

But Carter says they also came away with the skills needed to make a bigger impact in their industries.

“The inaugural class of Digital Media Academy Fellows represents students’ desire to learn more about how this trend transcends all media content and transforms how we prepare students for digital media careers,” Carter says. “The DMA has extended our outreach to first-generation and underrepresented students and equipped them with a skill set in video and digital media technology they can add to their toolkits, while advancing diversity in the field.”


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