Sunday, April 05, 2009

Daniels Talks Diversity at Wilkes U. Conference

WILKES-BARRE, Penn-- What a day it has been traveling for the first time here to Wilkes University in the Wyoming Valley portion of the Keystone State.

The Tom Bigler Journalism Conference was a big success and I was fortunate enough to be one of the speakers invited to share some insights on covering issues of race, ethinicity and media. I especially enjoyed a session on that topic just for middle and high school journalism advisers.

There are also some top notch students coming from Northeast Pennsylvania. In my student session today, I saw some animated, engaged students tackling real dilemmas as relates to covering race.

Even in a somewhat racial homogeneous region of the Northeast, students recognized the richness the diversity in ethnicities represented in this region. Without much formal instruction, they immediately identified those differences that are not the same as one’s race or skin color.

Along with meeting with high school students and teachers, I had a wonderful rap session with about 20 communication studies students from Wilkes University. With just about 110 in the major, that’s about one-fifth of the students who were a part of my session where we talked about professional development issues, networking, and opportunities that can come from being involved in the Society of Professional Journalists.

Out of this rap session came lots of great ideas for SPJ programming, the beginnings of what I hope will be some networking relationships and potentially some new student members for SPJ from Wilkes University.

I didn’t realize that the SPJ chapter at Wilkes was just operating on a provisional charter, the policy in their first year of operation. I feel fortunate to help play a role in their development as a chapter. So many of the things they are experiencing in starting a chapter, we are also experiencing as we advance in our re-activation of an SPJ chapter at the University of Alabama.

The People of Wilkes University-- especially three of my hosts-- Andrea Frantz, the director of the Bigler Journalism conference, Andrew Seamon, president of the Wilkes U. SPJ chapter and Alissa Lidner, Wilkes Univ. student director for the Bigler Conference, THANK YOU!

Flying in at nearly midnight and out the next day at 4 p.m. is hardly enough time to see and experience Northeast Pennsylvania. But, I now have another reason besides Hershey, Pennsylvania or Penn State University to visit the Keystone State.

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