Five students from the Department of Journalism and Creative Media participated in a mock press conference with public safety officers from across the state of Alabama last Friday, November 13.
Hosted by the Alabama Fire College in Tuscaloosa, the event provides an opportunity for University of Alabama students to gain valuable live-interview experience as public information officers from the Alabama Public Safety Leadership Academy (APSLA) simultaneously receive a test in having to answer their questions.
“I’ve had a relationship with the APSLA and conducted this training with them using RTDNA members and students from my classes since 2014,” said Dr. Chandra Clark. “It’s really good training for both. Future and current public information officers practice responding to the media with different safety and pressing issues, and our student “reporters” drill them to try to get the answers they need for their stories.”
The students who participated in this event are Lacey Beasley, Crimson Jeffers, Hannah Jones, T.J. Ross and Martha Glen Sease.
“There’s not many opportunities to practice being a member of the press in news conferences—you typically just jump right in and hope your experience interviewing for stories will translate to a conference,” said Sease. “The members of the APSLA kept thanking us for coming and letting them practice, and I’m not sure they realized until we were able to speak more with them that they were also helping us.”
With the amount of hands-on educational experiences being limited by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the students jumped at the opportunity to assist the APSLA in the press conference—maintaining appropriate social distancing and wearing the necessary protective face masks.
“It was great to have exposure to real-life scenarios that could happen in a real news conference with first responders and officials,” said Ross. “This was a really fun and educational experience.”
The Alabama Public Safety Leadership Academy exists to broaden and enhance the management and leadership skills of select members of Alabama’s public safety agencies through a directed program exposing members to key strategic elements relevant to public safety organizational success.