Category: CIS News

Students Report on ‘Shelter’ in 5th-Annual Global News Relay

C&IS students from the department of journalism and creative media are teaming with 17 universities around the world for the fifth-annual Global News Relay. Participating countries include Bulgaria, Egypt, India, the United Kingdom, China, Japan and the Netherlands, among others.

Global News Relay is a collaboration of journalism students worldwide who produce news content for a 6-hour block under a set theme each year. This year’s theme is Shelter, which focuses on stories about homelessness, immigration, the housing crisis, urban renewal, animal habitats and others.

“No matter what major you are pursuing, it’s a really amazing experience,” said Juliette Edwards, lead producer and anchor for the GNR team. “It’s very eye opening, because it’s so much work, but when we were done filming, it was really cool to see the finished project.”

Over a dozen UA students volunteered their time producing and recording their segments on shelter. The UA portion of the broadcast will feature stories covering topics such as Airbnb, a local animal shelter, UA’s new adapted athletics facility, Habitat for Humanity efforts in Tuscaloosa following the 2011 Tornado and more.

“Football is so big here, and people are always looking for places to stay,” said Leah Doolin. “So, I centered my story around Airbnb and how it is a good alternative to staying in a hotel.”

The stories were produced and directed entirely by UA students inside WVUA 23 studios in the Digitial Media Center. Alabama’s part in the GNR broadcast will take place at 12 p.m. on Monday, April 23. Preview all of the stories they will be reporting here, and check out the livestream here.

“I’ve always wanted to be on television, and I love hands-on activities,” said Devin Bowens. “This gave me insight and behind-the-scenes knowledge of what it takes to produce something on this scale, and it has been a great experience.”

The Global News Relay was founded in 2014. UA first participated in the event in 2015 and has done so each following year.

Jalen Drummond, Forensics National Champion

Drummond, National Champion, Informative Speaking

Jalen Drummond, a senior from Wedowee, Alabama, finished first nationally in Informative Speaking at the 41st American Forensics Association National Individual Events Tournament (AFA-NIET) Championships in Colorado Springs, CO. The Alabama Forensic Council traveled to the AFA-NIET with over 20 students competing.

“Preparing to compete on the national stage is nothing short of intense,” said Drummond. “I spent hours perfecting my delivery, researching current events, and practicing with some of the most respected coaches in the nation. It is definitely grueling; however, the laborious preparation definitely pays off when you hear your name shouted as the national champion.”

Drummond’s topic focused on the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and an Obama Administration report that sheds light on details of that day. Drummond’s speech attempted to address and combat fake news and emphasizes the need for truth in reporting.

The AFC entered 24 students in 66 events and advanced nine students in 15 events to quarter-finals, five students in six events to semi-finals, and three students in four events to the final rounds of competition. AFC finished in fifth place out of 63 competing schools for the second year in a row.

“The fifth-place finish of the AFC at this year’s National Speech tournament is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the students and staff,” said Bobby Imbody, Director of Forensics. “All of the students did the hard work required to be great, and it shows. More importantly, our students tackled hard topics and spoke truth to any and all audiences in an effort to make their world a better place more than any year before.”


The AFA-NIET is the most competitive national forensics tournament in the nation with the most rigorous qualification process of any intercollegiate forensic tournament. For a full list of student winners, see below:

Pearce Barringer, Junior, Montgomery
Quarter Finals             Extemporaneous Speaking

Emma Capitanelli, First Year, Collierville, TN
6th Place          Persuasive Speaking

Jalen Drummond, Senior, Wedowee
National Champion     Informative Speaking
3rd Place          Communication Analysis

Brittany Grady, Senior, Birmingham
Quarter Finals             Impromptu Speaking

Isaiah McDermott, First Year, Morristown, TN
Quarter Finals             Program Oral Interpretation

Danielle Pacia, Junior, Morristown, TN
Semi Finals     Program Oral Interpretation
Quarter Finals             Informative Speaking
Quarter Finals             Persuasive Speaking

Alexis Simmons, Junior, Montgomery
Semi Finals                 Poetry Interpretation
Quarter Finals             Prose Interpretation
Quarter Finals             Dramatic Interpretation

McLean Stewart, Junior, Montgomery
6th Place          Extemporaneous Speaking
Quarter Finals             Impromptu Speaking

Ed White, Junior, Montgomery
Quarter Finals             Communication Analysis

Dr. Meredith Bagley Receives Other Club’s Outstanding Faculty Award

The Other Club selected Dr. Meredith Bagley (associate professor, communication studies) as the 2018 recipient of the Outstanding Faculty award as a part of their Honors Day celebration on the Mound. The award aims to recognize an outstanding faculty member who has made a significant impact in their respective area of campus, especially those whose work goes often unrecognized.

Marquis Munson Wins Best in Broadcast ABBY

Marquis (right) with Ryan Fowler

Marquis Munson was a post-graduate journalism major, working retail in his home state of California when Ryan Fowler direct-messaged him on Twitter, asking him to fly to Alabama to produce his sports radio show, “The Game with Ryan Fowler.” Marquis worked for Ryan in 2015 as an intern. Marquis bought a Greyhound Bus ticket and headed back to Tuscaloosa.

A few months later, he and Ryan won an Alabama Broadcasters Association (ABBY) “Best in Broadcasting” for best medium sports show. This award recognizes excellence in broadcasting in the state of Alabama.

Marquis is no stranger to hard work and credits his time in C&IS as a major push toward his success. His relationships with professors like Meredith Cummings and Lars Anderson helped him dive into his field and learn through experiential learning and hands-on projects.

“At C&IS, while you’re a student you get put in the field and you work. To be able to get on-air experience as an undergraduate is something that a lot of schools don’t offer,” Marquis said. “All of the professors helped me somehow in this business and still help me today.”

Marquis developed his love for sports and radio from listening to “First Take” and Jim Rome shows as a kid. He calls sports an escape from other things going on in the world.

When asked about Ryan and his relationship to the host, Marquis is quick to praise their collaboration in the studio.

“We are total opposites, but we share the bond of sports. He’s the reason I have a job in radio and our teamwork makes the show,” Marquis said. “People who are different from you can help to bring out things you didn’t know were possible, Ryan and I have that chemistry on-air.”

Marquis noted that winning an ABBY is a major professional and personal success for him because it marks his hard work paying off. The journey that he had to take was not easy but he knew that if he stuck to his path, it would all work out.

“Saying that hard work pays off is cliché, but it actually does,” said Marquis. “I tell our interns now, don’t take an opportunity for granted. Work hard and make yourself as useful as you can.”

Marquis is living his dream of working in radio as a producer. His time in C&IS offered him the learning environment he needed to be ready to jump into opportunities like his partnership with Ryan.

Moving forward, Marquis plans to keep winning ABBYs. “My job is to continue the success that we’ve had, my goal is to win again next year and the year after that,” he said. With his hard work and creativity, Marquis can be sure that this ABBY is just the beginning.

Ad Team Finishes 2nd in District 7 NSAC

C&IS’ Ad Team finished 2nd in the American Advertising Federation’s National Student Advertising Competition for District 7. This is the 24th year in a row that Alabama’s team has finished in the top four of District 7, and the 19th year out of 33 that they have finished 1st or 2nd.

District 7 includes a total of 20 universities in Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. This district founded the NSAC over 30 years ago and has a long, competitive history in the competition. East Tennessee State University and Loyola University finished first and third, respectively.

The National Student Advertising Competition is the premier college advertising competition, annually providing more than 3,000 students with real world experience through the production of a strategic advertising, marketing and media campaign for a corporate sponsor. This year’s corporate sponsor was Ocean Spray.

“Our team did an awesome job on their presentation,” said Jay Waters, Adviser, Ad Team. “We had had good practices leading up to the competition, and the presenters did a great job continuing to push themselves to get better. That really showed on presentation day.”

The Ad Team accomplished many of their personal goals, including improved quality of video production and creative thinking, as well as doing a better job hitting the deadlines they set for themselves.

The Ad Team is not the only award winner from District 7. Waters was awarded the Donald G. Hileman Memorial Educator of the Year Award. This honor recognizes a college educator for their outstanding service to advertising students through an advertising team, a student advertising club and teaching of superior quality.

“To be honest, I wasn’t really paying attention to the announcement,” said Waters. “When they called my name, it kind of startled me. I was completely blindsided by winning. Overall, I’m really humbled and honored to win the award.”

Waters describes Ad Team as a department-wide effort, as it has three additional faculty advisors: Mark Barry, Randall Huffaker and Janet Walker. The Ad Team also utilizes the talents of several other faculty/staff members in the process of perfecting their campaign, including Gray Lloyd and Amy Martin, who assist with video production, and Tracy Sims, Susan Daria, Teri Henley and Joe Phelps who provided insightful feedback on their presentation.

Members of the 2017-18 University of Alabama Ad Team are as follows:
Allie Burton
Mary Buzbee
Charlotte Frank
Piper Giddings
Grace Golden
Caleb Ledbetter
Hughston May
Alli Ninmann
Lindsay Rudoff
Connor Schobel
Rachel Sowell
Elizabeth Swartz
Patricia Sylvia
Nelle Thomas
Abigail Wolfe

DMC Production Team:
Alexandra Cherry
Rhianna Israni
Reagan Wells

C&IS Honors Day

C&IS Honors Day

Honors Day is a time-honored tradition on The University of Alabama campus and within the College of Communication and Information Sciences. As the academic year comes to an end, we recognize the accomplishments of our most outstanding students and alumni. Selected both within their academic units and college wide, the individuals honored today have contributed excellence to the College and are distinctive representatives for our field.


Bert Bank Distinguished Service Award – Josiah “Jo” Robins Bonner, Jr.

A dedicated public servant who served in Alabama’s First District in the U.S. House of Representatives for 10 years, Josiah “Jo” Robins Bonner, Jr. has been an advocate for Alabama his entire life. He received his B.A. in journalism from The University of Alabama in 1982 and since then has served the state and country. Notable achievements include $5 billion in contracts for Alabama-based companies to work with the U.S. Navy to build new ships. Bonner’s influence and leadership have bolstered the state’s economy and have earned him numerous awards, including the Distinguished Public Service Award which is the highest honor the U.S. Navy bestows to a civilian. He and his family live in Mobile, AL. C&IS is proud to award Bonner the Bert Bank Distinguished Service Award and to host him on campus.


Betsy Plank Distinguished Achievement Award – Marie Robinson 

After serving in The University of Alabama’s Army ROTC program, Marie Robinson graduated with a degree in journalism. She joined Walmart and launched their first e-commerce distribution center while working as their first female vice president of logistics. Robinson now works as the senior vice president of corporate strategy and chief operations officer for Michael Kors. Her day-to-day tasks include overseeing the company’s global operations and creating strategies that will enhance the company. Robinson has held other positions with top brands throughout her career. A leader in strategy and operations management, Robinson is the ideal recipient of the Betsy Plank Distinguished Achievement Award.


Outstanding Alumnus, Advertising – Cameron T. Watson

Cameron T. Watson is the group creative director-North America for Red Fuse Communications. He oversees all shopper marketing and e-commerce. Watson’s career has spanned two decades in the creative industry where he has worked in advertising agencies, in-house creative studios, retail firms and more. He has done strategic work for international brands, including Coca-Cola, Royal Caribbean and more. He was active on campus as a Crimson Tide cheerleader and in his work for The Crimson White. Watson is an advocate for diversity and inclusion in the advertising field.


Outstanding Alumna, Communication Studies – Angela R. Gillespie

Angela Gillespie is the chief strategy officer of W20 Group, one of America’s most ambitious and innovative healthcare communication and marketing agencies. Her work breaks industry-wide standards for integrating communication into the healthcare industry. While a student at UA, Gillespie was on the Alabama Forensic Council and credits her experiences as a student with her current success. In addition to her professional career, Gillespie strongly values work-life balance and has pursued culinary pursuits and nonprofit work.


Outstanding Alumna, Library and Information Studies – Irene “Renee” Blalock

Irene “Renee” Blalock received her master’s in library service in 1981. She spent her professional career at the Birmingham Public Library, the largest public library in Alabama. Blalock served in the literature department and southern history department, as a branch head, collection department manager, regional coordinator, operational coordinator, associate director and finally director from 2009 to 2014. Blalock became a huge contributor to the volunteer community in Birmingham and was affiliated with many community initiatives. She has also served on committees of the American Library Association and on the board of the national Public Library Association.


Outstanding Alumnus, Library and Information Studies – Timothy Alan Lewis

Timothy Alan Lewis received his master’s in library service in 1982 and his law degree from The University of Alabama School of Law in 1984. Lewis has spent his professional career at the Library of the Supreme Court, where he has served as a readers services librarian, associate director and finally director. He has worked as the state law librarian since 1992. Lewis advises and assists county law librarians with legal information needs and provides leadership to the law library community in Alabama. He has given presentations and written numerous articles concerning legal information.


Outstanding Alumna, Public Relations – Breeanna Beckham Straessle 

Breeanna Beckham Straessle is a two-time graduate of The College of Communication and Information Sciences, earning her bachelor’s in public relations and her master’s in advertising and public relations. Straessle began her career in a boutique digital agency, heading their marketing division. Since then, she has served as the director of public relations for Vocus and director of corporate communications for Cision. Straessle now works as Cracker Barrel’s corporate communication manager and primary spokesperson.


Outstanding Alumnus, Journalism and Creative Media – Clayton Collins

Clayton Collins moved to New York City to produce MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” after graduating from UA. Since 2014, he has overseen and built creative productions for NBC Sports’ original programming and development group. Collins has produced and directed feature shows, digital vignettes and social activations on the NFL, NHL, NASCAR, Golf Channel and Premiership Rugby. He and his wife Danielle live in New England.


For more information on each recipient and to read their full bios, click here.

C&IS Wins 4 SPJ Mark of Excellence Awards

C&IS students were awarded four Mark of Excellence Awards by the Society of Professional Journalists, Region 3. The award placement qualifies each of the recipients for competition at the national level.

SPJ Region 3 includes universities in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In all, University of Alabama students were finalists in 10 categories of the Region 3 awards. For the full list of finalists, click here.

C&IS’ Montanari Named PRWeek Student of the Year

From Left: Tish Carmona (2017 PRWeek Student of the Year), Maret Montanari, Dr. Joe Phelps and Jacquie McMahon

PRWeek has named C&IS Junior, Maret Montanari, its Public Relations Student of the Year. Montanari, of Beaumont, Texas is the University’s first PRWeek Student of the Year winner. Katie Gatti was runner-up in 2017.

“It still kind of feels like a dream,” said Montanari, “This is such a big honor, and it’s a testament to this College, its outstanding program and its professors who equip their students to excel beyond Tuscaloosa.”

This year’s campaign prompt challenged applicants to create a campaign, using digital channels to increase millennial visitors to the state of Delaware. Montanari’s campaign, “Delaware on Demand,” capitalized on creating a customizable travel experience for interested visitors.

A Journey For Truth

Discovering the People Behind “the Media”

For Meredith Cummings, the media is a collection of people­—male and female, rich and struggling, liberal and conservative, optimists and pessimists—working as copywriters, editors, producers, broadcasters and radio personalities. The 20-year news media instructor knows it is virtually impossible to put them all into a box, and she does not try. Instead, she ventured out on a road trip to discover the people behind the media who have, over time, become a faceless, nameless entity used to group together all journalists. Along her journey, she interviewed more than 100 people so she could bring their stories back to the classroom.

Spotlight on Women’s History Month: Honoring Autherine Lucy

The Autherine Lucy Clock Tower at Fosters Auditorium

Every Monday in February, as a way of honoring the legacy of Autherine Lucy and Black History Month, Dr. Meredith Bagley (Professor, communication studies) hosts tours of The University of Alabama’s campus, highlighting key places and moments in Lucy’s brief, first enrollment at UA.

On a flyer advertising the tours, Bagley summarizes Lucy’s experience at UA this way: “On February 3, 1956, Autherine Lucy became the first African American student to enroll at The University of Alabama. She and her support team showed tremendous courage and fortitude in the face of administrative resistance, ill-prepared law enforcement and, eventually, violent segregationist mobs. On Monday, February 6, 1956, the mob violence led UA Board of Trustees to suspend Lucy from campus ‘for her own safety.’ “