Jackson professionals share expertise about media

Brad Isaacs, operations manager for The Jackson Sun, displays a metal plate used to adhere ink to a newspaper page. Communication arts students visited a local TV station, radio station, newspaper and advertising agency during "Media Day." | Photo by Beth Spain

By Holly Michele Naylor

The smell of ink hovered in the air above the students. The clicking of fingers on the keyboards could be heard in each writer’s cubicle. Mountains of newspapers were stacked all around the mail room.

This was the scene at The Jackson Sun headquarters, which was one of the stops along the journey titled “Media Day” at Union University. Students from different aspects of media studies — including public relations, journalism, broadcast journalism and digital media — arrived at Jennings Hall Nov. 11 to begin the tours of various media channels in the Jackson community.

Reasons for attending Media Day varied among students, but Katlyn Moncada, junior journalism major, was involved to learn more about her major.

“I am a new journalism major, and this is my first semester taking journalism courses,” Moncada said. “Attending Media Day has helped me see how   each person in the media works in the real world.

Media Day was sponsored by the Center for Media, Faith and Culture. Students visited WBBJ, the local ABC television affiliate, where they witnessed a segment-taping and a tour. They also had several questions for a morning anchor and a weather forecaster — a new employee to the station.

Radio station WTJS, the next stop on the trip, is home of Froggy 104 and Rock 92.3, as well as talk show host Mike Slater. There were four production rooms with microphones and switchboards, where occupants broadcast daily.

Students also participated in a studio audience for two 30-minute newscasts on “Jackson 24/7,” a television show produced by Union students. They interacted with Steve Maroney, guest and local attorney, by asking questions about the political climate and recent elections. In another segment, questions about the media and politics were discussed with Todd Starnes, national correspondent for FOX News. Next on the learning excursion was The Jackson Sun, where students learned how newspapers are produced by the printing press and how stories are allotted for the front page at the  daily news budget meeting. The Sun headquarters is also where the Cardinal & Cream is published.

The advertising and public relations agency DCA/ DCPR, formerly Davidson and Chandler Advertising, makes magic in creating just the right advertisement for a certain client and product.

Finally, students gathered at Old Country Store to eat a home-cooked meal and listen to guest speaker Starnes. His key focus was to explain to the students how to be a Christian journalist and to keep God at the center of one’s life. Starnes said God had planned for him to be working at FOX.

“I never envisioned myself working in New York,” Starnes said. “My life goal was to own a newspaper in some mountain community, but that’s just not what God had planned.”

Starnes said he returned to Union to speak to the students because he loves the university and its Christ-centered and excellence-driven education system. He advised students to listen.

“A lot of times journalists like to hear themselves talk, and sometimes it’s good for us to just be quiet and let people answer our questions,” Starnes said.

Despite meeting numerous people, covering an average of five stories a day beginning at 3:30 a.m. and appearing on shows such as “Hannity,” Starnes stays grounded in his Christian faith by remembering his favorite Bible verse, Habakkuk 3:19, which he quoted to the students: “God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on the high places.”

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The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.