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This item originally appeared in the February 17, 2005 issue of The Tech Talk.


Staff Writer

Students will get the chance to pick the brains of several professional journalists including Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. this weekend at the 2005 Southeast Journalism Conference.

"The Changing Face of Journalism" will be the focus of the conference.

Students, regardless of their major, are invited to attend the seminars on Tech's campus.

"It's a great learning experience for journalism students and journalism faculty, so we are honored to host the conference," Wiley W. Hilburn Jr., the head of the journalism department, said. "It's a landmark event for the department and the university."

The conference will include opportunities to participate in seminars, the SEJC Job Fair and competitions. Professional journalists will speak at various seminars on topics such as investigative reporting, covering deadly violence and media and the military (the latter two limited to SEJC registrants.)

"I am really excited that [Tech] has this opportunity to host the conference," Judith McDaniel, student co-president of SEJC and a senior journalism major, said.

"One of the best parts of the conference is journalism students can come together and learn from the best people in the journalism profession."

Dr. Reginald Owens, an associate professor of journalism, said many students and faculty are expected to attend.

"In the past, we have had about 200 to 250 people show up to the convention, and we are expecting that much for this conference," Owens said.

Pitts, of the Miami Herald, is the keynote speaker for Friday's awards luncheon at 11:45 a.m. in the Student Center, Main Floor. The deadline for luncheon registrations was Tuesday.

"He was chosen because of his outstanding achievements as a journalist and as a Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist," Owens said. "We think he will have a good message for the students."

Speakers include Teddy Allen, columnist for The Times in Shreveport; Sonja Bailes, co-anchor of "First News," KTBS in Shreveport and Bob Mann, communications director for Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco. Topics that will be discussed include police use of deadly force, First Amendment laws and covering disasters.

"We have tried to address current issues in the media and have invited people who are actively engaged in those issues," Owens said.

Sallie Rose Hollis, president of SEJC and an associate professor of journalism, said as well as the seminars, on-site competitions will be held in 14 categories such as photography, feature writing and copy editing. The on-site competition and SEJC's Best of the South competition will give students a chance to win awards and recognition.

"Students get a chance to compete against other students all across the South, and it gives them a chance to get their work out there and judged solely on their own merit," Hollis said.

For more information about the conference, contact Hollis or Owens at 257-4427.

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