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COVID-19 Alumni Interviews

In the fight against COVID-19, the accurate dissemination of information to a global audience is a key part of the battle. Many of our alums are in the fight and have seen so many aspects of their jobs change.

C&IS faculty members Dr. Chandra Clark and Shane Dorrill have spoken with a few C&IS alumni who have seen their worlds change in the past few weeks. Hear their experiences in “the new normal” by watching the videos below!

Jack Royer, News Anchor – CBS 42 Birmingham, AL: https://youtu.be/N3vCQFEVuZg

Sam Luther, Multimedia Journalist – WTVC Chattanooga, TN: https://youtu.be/3eouNyVbk6A

Kristen Fisher, Morning Show Producer – WCCB Charlotte, NC: https://youtu.be/5jguV1-LPI0

Eryn Cooper, Multimedia Journalist – WTVC Chattanooga, TN: https://youtu.be/AtsAhtXeEvw

Sydney Basden, Digital News Producer: WCTI New Bern, NC: https://youtu.be/rLuvV2jGq8Y

Spotlight on PRCA

The UA student chapter of the Public Relations Council of Alabama hosted an event to honor American veterans. The C&IS student organization collaborated with an established cause, A Million Thanks, to sign holiday cards expressing gratitude to men and women who have served in the U. S. Military.

This is one of two annual service projects that PRCA does to give back to the community. It began with a desire to find an organization or cause that is meaningful and has a wide appeal to a variety of students. With Veteran’s Day in the month of November, this was the perfect opportunity.

“It’s something that everybody can connect to in some kind of way,” said Justin Washington, vice president of projects for PRCA UA. “Whether it’s a family member, or a friend—everyone knows somebody who has served in our military.”

While only one dollar was being asked to be able to sign a card, many students offered more. In addition to raising money for their cause, they were able to collect over fifty cards.

“Our veterans have done so much for us,” said Mary Catherine Molay, President of PRCA UA, “it’s the least we can do to give something back.”

Collaboration and unity are celebrated in the College of Information and Communication Sciences as core values. PRCA demonstrated these values through their work with A Million Thanks and their peers to proactively treat others with dignity and respect.

A Million Thanks began as a short-term, community service project to send a million cards and letters of appreciation. This has now grown into a full organization that grants the wishes of injured veterans, funds the education of fallen veteran’s children and continues to collect letters and cards of appreciation.

PRCA UA is an organization that give students an inside look into public relations as a career and a field of study. They are associated with a larger organization, PRCA of West Alabama.

Electionland at UA

The College of Communication and Information Sciences’ Department of Journalism and Creative Media is partnering with a coalition of organizations to create a virtual newsroom that will produce stories on voting problems as they happen. The initiative, termed Electionland, is one of the first of its kind.

By creating a virtual newsroom to produce stories on voting problems in real time, and by distributing leads about voting problems to local journalists who can follow up on them, the project aims to help those who might have been turned away to cast their ballots. It’s an issue ProPublica believes is particularly urgent this election cycle because of new legislation that could affect citizens’ access to the ballot box, and because of the doubt cast on the validity of the system by one of the presidential candidates.

“There is no more essential act in a democracy than voting,” ProPublica stated in a news release announcing Electionland. “But making sure that the balloting is open to all and efficiently administered has been, at best, a low priority for many state legislatures, a victim of misplaced priorities and, at times, political gamesmanship.”

Chip Brantley, senior lecturer of emerging media, and his team of C&IS faculty and students will aid the organization in its initiative this Election Day from their own newsroom on The University of Alabama’s campus. Using a variety of social networking sites, data software and reporting systems, the team of approximately 30 students will monitor polling sites across the states of Alabama and Mississippi.

By viewing users’ posts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, the “feeders” will report voting problems to a team of professional journalists assigned to specific regions of the country. From there, the national Electionland desk – also staffed by professional journalists – will liveblog pertinent election happenings and appear on national media to discuss these issues as needed.

The University of Alabama’s Department of Journalism and Creative Media is one of only 14 journalism programs in the nation selected to participate in this year’s Electionland. Other programs include: Columbia University, CUNY, the University of North Carolina and the University of Missouri. Corporate and organizational sponsors include: ProPublica, Google News Lab, Univision, First Draft, and USA Today Network.

C&IS professors Dr. Kim Bissell, Dr. Scott Parrott, Dr. Jen Hoewe and Meredith Cummings have also contributed to the UA Electionland project.

An Advocate for the Deaf: Dr. Darrin Griffin

Dr. Darrin Griffin, assistant professor of communication studies, is an advocate for Deaf* culture and has conducted research on nonverbal communication, interpersonal communication, lies and deception. As a child of deaf adults (CODA) Griffin’s experiences have shaped his interests and scholarly work on nonverbal communication since the beginning of his academic career.

Griffin’s understanding and exploration of Deaf culture has led to several Deaf culture initiatives in the College of Communication and Information Sciences. Most recently, he hosted a training session for local law enforcement officers on best practices when working with deaf and hard of hearing individuals. Officers also learned basic sign language to use during traffic stops and key components of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In addition to his work with public officials, Griffin has piloted an interim course on Deaf culture. This summer, students spent two weeks immersed in Deaf culture studies on campus before traveling to Washington, D.C. where they visited Gallaudet University – a private university for the education of the Deaf. Griffin has plans to expand the curriculum to include a winter interim course with a travel component. This time, the group will head to Austin, Texas – Griffin’s home town and one of the hubs for Deaf culture in America.

*in reference to the culture surrounding individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, the “d” in deaf is capitalized.

Dr. Darrin Griffin received his undergraduate degree in Deaf studies and deaf education from the University of Texas at Austin. He then moved to Buffalo, New York where he earned his PhD. His dissertation focused on deaf schemas. For more on Griffin’s work, visit this site.

 

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