Media are evolving and the multimedia skills students at The University of Texas-Pan American are learning will make them more competitive in the job market, said media professionals at the first annual Communication Showcase at UTPA April 20.
Lilli Lopez, Bronc TV station manager; Brian Silva, Pan American Newspaper editor and chief and Daniel Flores, Panorama Magazine co-editor and chief, approached Dr. Timothy Mottet, professor and chair of the communication department, one month ago with the idea of inviting key media professionals to give students the opportunity of interacting with those already successful in the communication business.
Bruce Collins, program director for KURV Radio; Will Ripley, reporter and anchor for KRGV Channel 5; Ana Ley, reporter for The Monitor; Jeff Smith, copy editor and designer for The Monitor; Rodrigo Rodriguez, owner and director for Rio Bravo Pictures and Lynda Lopez, director of Special Projects at UTPA were those invited to the showcase.
Speakers shared their personal experiences during what Smith calls a transitional period in history for news. They also provided feedback on student work and gave advice about a student's future in the business of media.
"When we invited our guests our intention was for them to emphasize the value and importance of gaining experience," Lilli Lopez said. "This event happened the way I envisioned it and all of it was possible with help and support from Dr. Mottet."
The communication showcase also served as the launch of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) chapter at UTPA, the first and only student chapter in the Rio Grande Valley.
NAHJ is the primary association for Hispanic journalists to encourage and support the study and practice of journalism by Hispanics. Its mission is to further the employment of Hispanics in the media and to improve coverage of the Latino community.
"An NAHJ chapter here in the Valley was so long overdue; we of all places should have one," Mottet said. "I am excited because this is an incredible student organization, especially in terms of its networking power."
Lilli Lopez, a communication student who is also one of the founding members of NAHJ at UTPA, said creating this organization on campus was obtainable because of the many students interested in becoming official members of the association.
Students were impressed with the outcome of the event and what each professional had to say. Jessica Wells, a broadcast journalism major, said she learned a lot from an experience she will never forget.
"I would love to see an important experience like this be continued here on campus," Wells said. "It was a privilege being critiqued by professionals and told how to make it better. This is something that everyone in the communication field should get the chance to do."
Mottet and Lilli Lopez said there will be more of these events in the future. Mottet feels they not only serve to be educational for students, but help put the UTPA communication department on the map and assist in building partnerships with local media outlets.
"We want local media to be aware of what is going on within our department and we want them to know who we are and what we do," Mottet said. "Just from this event our best and brightest students were noticed and it was interesting to hear our guests say they had not realized the amount of talent here and that our students are already successful, they just don't know it yet."