The University of Memphis Department of Journalism and Strategic Media will host the 45th annual AEJMC Southeast Colloquium, a three-day academic research conference that will be held from March 19 to the 21 at the FedEx Institute of Technology.
Over the course of three days, about 140 attendees will be able to view 150 presentations on a range of media topics in six categories, including Electronic News, History, Magazine Media, Newspaper and Online News, Law and Policy, Visual Communication. Presenters will include four UofM graduate students, one alumnus and one faculty member.
“The AEJMC Southeast Colloquium was originally created to serve as a venue for Ph.D. and Master’s students at southeastern schools to get together, talk about research and get their feet wet as a first academic presentation before proceeding to the big national association,” said Matt Haught, assistant chair and associate professor of creative mass media with the Department of Journalism and Strategic Media. “It grew from a partnership between those three schools to become a regional conference for the southeastern United States. In the past 45 years, it has been hosted as far west as Texas and as far north as Kentucky.”
The conference will kick off on the evening of Thursday, March 19, with an opening reception and keynote speaker featured as part of UofM’s annual Norm Brewer First Amendment Lecture. Frank Bruni, an op-ed columnist in The New York Times, will discuss politics and the 2020 presidential election. The event begins at 6 p.m. in the University Center Ballroom. A reception begins at 5:30.
This year marks the second time The University of Memphis will host the AEJMC Southeast Colloquium, the first being in 1981 when the college was still known as Memphis State University.
“With the renewed interest in research efforts over the last few years here at The University of Memphis, this conference seemed like a natural fit for us to show that we’re doing our part to be part of the University’s research agenda,” Haught said.
On Friday at lunch, Marc Perrusquia, Director of the UofM’s Institute for Public Service Reporting, will deliver a brief lecture on the state of nonprofit efforts in journalism in the Mid-South and how the institute figures into them. The Colloquium will also include a research-in-progress roundtable as an opportunity for researchers to share and get feedback on projects that are in some stage of development.
“Research efforts at the Department of Journalism and Strategic Media are mission-critical for us,” Haught said. “Every new idea that comes into our program comes through research in some way, whether informally by way of monitoring our various professions or formally by understanding how audiences consume media, research is at the core of every single curriculum and professional advancement in our department.”
One of the initial goals going into the conference, Haught said, was to display just how much this particular branch of higher education has evolved over the years within the Department of Journalism and Strategic Media.
“So much has changed here at The University of Memphis and with our program in particular that we really wanted to show it off,” Haught said. “This includes a range of new facilities, faculty members and academic programs that now comprise our department.”
In addition to the research competition, the colloquium will host a session about academic citizenship to help graduate students and early-career scholars learn some of the skills of presenting at a conference, reviewing research and networking.
“Because this conference is focused mainly on graduate students, this, for many, is their first time attending an academic conference, their first exposure to AEJMC and their first chance to break into the national scene for mass media research,” Haught said. “We want to raise them up the right way and give them a primer on how to grow yourself and gain respect as both a scholar and professional in this field.”
Haught credits an internal push toward new research efforts within the Department of Journalism and Strategic Media for translating personal faculty academic research into the classroom, which has helped set UofM apart from schools that lack a strong research culture.
“The fact that we pair that research with so much strong professional experience from so many of our faculty members really makes this a great place to study journalism and strategic media,” Haught said. “With this conference, one of the cool things we decided to do to show off that blend is something called a GIFT session.”
GIFT sessions, based on an acronym that stands for “Great Ideas For Teaching,” encourages academic professionals to bring their particular branch of teaching expertise to the table in the form of a brief, highly compressed five-minute session designed to share classroom methods. One of the 17 GIFT sessions slated for this year’s AEJMC Southeast Colloquium will be hosted by UofM Public Relations Professor Kim Marks Malone.