SUNY Oswego’s 11th annual Media Summit sheds light on diversity

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A student asks Media Summit panelists a question. From left to right: moderator Chris Collins-McNeill, panelists Kendis Gibson, Jennifer Sanders, Dave Longley and Michelle Garcia. Photo by: Erin Bischoff.

OSWEGO, New York– Students, faculty and alumni filled Sheldon Ballroom on Wednesday, October 21st for SUNY Oswego’s annual Media Summit.

This year, the topic of the media summit was “A Mile in their Shoes: Reflections on Equality and Diversity in the Media.” Among the panelists were Kendis Gibson, an ABC News correspondent, Jennifer Sanders, news anchor on WSYR-TV News Channel 9, Dave Longley, Chief Meteorologist at WSYR-TV News Channel 9, and Michelle Garcia, identities editor at Mic.com. The media summit was created back in 2005 with the purpose of bringing successful names in the communication industry to participate in a panel discussion, as well as hold small-group discussions, to give students the opportunity to learn from and network with professionals.

Student press event

The media summit  kicked off at 7:30 a.m. in the student press event in Lake Effect Café. Reporters from student media groups such as WTOP, WNYO and The Oswegonian, as well as the media summit team, mingled with career connectors. Student event co-director Victoria Love was among the group of students at the press event.

The student press event kicked off the Media Summit in the Lake Effect cafe. Photo by: Erin Bischoff
The student press event kicked off the Media Summit in the Lake Effect Cafe. Photo by: Erin Bischoff

“This media summit in particular, the discussion that we’re having is very important,” said Love. “So taking away from it the understanding that everybody’s different and everybody has a different background is important.”

Career connector Chris Horvatits, a reporter from News10NBC in Rochester, was excited to be at the event, saying he felt honored to have been chosen to come back to speak to students at his alma mater.

“Networking’s everything, so to set up networking events like this is just great,” said Horvatits.

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Classroom and breakout sessions
Michelle Garcia talks to students during a breakout session. Photo by: Mackenzie Graves.

The guests went on to speak to classes throughout the day. Breakout sessions were also held with panelists, Michelle Garcia and Dave Longley, and career connectors Mary Godnick, Stephanie Meyering, and Adam Campbell-Schmitt. Michelle Garcia, editor of the identities section at Mic.com, says she covers topics that deal with underrepresented groups in the media.

“The fact that transgender women are very highly prone to violence that’s something mainstream media would never have covered 10 years ago,” said Garcia.

She also gave a brief description of her career after Oswego, which began at The Advocate, a national LGBT activist publication where she worked for nine years. Garcia took her current position at Mic.com earlier this year. The job is rewarding but requires hard work, the digital media market is no joke, Garcia said.

Panel discussion

The panelists each brought a diverse perspective to the discussion, Kendis Gibson, a black man, Jennifer Sanders, a black woman, Dave Longley, who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, and Michelle Garcia, a queer, black latina. The panelists kept the audience captivated, keeping the mood light while discussing a very serious topic.

Jennifer Sanders discussed the importance of including diversity in news stories, and noted that it needs to be a priority when making decisions saying, “we need more people behind the scenes, the key decision makers, to be interested in diversity.”

Topics ranged from social economic status to people with disabilities, along with giving advice to students hoping to enter the field.

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Career connectors panel
Career connectors on stage in Sheldon Ballroom. From left to right, moderators Kalie Hudson, Victoria Love, panelists, Mike Toper, Stephanie Meyering, Anthony Hill, Adam Campbell-Schmitt, Mary Godnick, and Chris Horvatits. Photo by: Annie Flaherty.
Career connectors on stage in Sheldon Ballroom. From left to right, moderators Kalie Hudson and Victoria Love, panelists, Mike Toper, Stephanie Meyering, Anthony Hill, Adam Campbell-Schmitt, Mary Godnick, and Chris Horvatits. Photo by: Annie Flaherty.

The day ended with the career connector panel, where six Oswego alumni who graduated within the past ten years, had the opportunity to share their experiences with current students.  The discussion started off with frequently asked questions.  Victoria Love and Kalie Hudson, the event directors of The Media Summit, moderated this portion of the panel and asked the career connectors what steps did you take after graduation? And, what advice do you have for students who want to get into the media industry?

Chris Horvatits, spoke about the resources that the Oswego campus has.  He praised the communication studies department and the resources that it offers to its students.

Michael Toper, another career connector, graduated in 2010 and is now reporting for Time Warner Cable News in Ithaca. He agrees with Horvatits about SUNY Oswego’s resources.

“The most important thing that helped me out […] was having the TV station and the radio station… for me, that was the biggest resource,” Toper said.

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After the panel, students had the opportunity to network with the alumni and personally reach out to them.  Some, were even able to hand their resumes over. Jaime Krasner, was among the students who attended the career connectors discussion.

“The career connectors was my favorite part of the day because all of the professionals were so relatable and it was great to hear how their success was contributed to the same things that I am currently doing at Oswego,” said Krasner.