The Southern Regional Press Institute (SRPI) was held February 28-March 1 on the campus of Savannah State University (SSU). This year’s theme was “Diversity in Media: A-F: Grading the Media on its Efforts to Be Inclusive of All Voices.”
The opening session was held at 9 am with the keynote address delivered by award winning and Emmy nominated producer
Natalie Bullock Brown. Brown is currently chair of and an assistant professor in the Department of Film & Interactive Media at Saint Augustine’s University in Raleigh, North Carolina. Brown was presented the Louis R. Lautier Award for Career Achievement.
This year’s Institute included workshops by the region’s leading mass media professionals with topics ranging from race and gender diversity in the media, to include newsrooms photography the film industry and the arena of public relations. The opening day of events culminated with the SRPI Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame honors persons who have given tirelessly of themselves throughout the years to aid in the success of the SRPI.
This year’s inductees included former on-air radio personality Kenya Cabine, Savannah Morning News executive editor Susan Catron, WSAV anchor and reporter Kim Gusby, former executive editor of the Montgomery Adviser Wanda Lloyd, director of journalism at Clark Atlanta University, James McJunkins, former WTOC sports anchor Rick Snow, weekly advocacy newspaper, The Savannah Tribune and Novella Cross Holmes (retired) and Reginald Franklin, associate professors of journalism and mass communications, SSU. Both Holmes and Franklin have served as directors of the SRPI. Holmes served for 23 years, and Franklin has served for the past nine years.
The Institute wrapped up on Friday with the Louise Lautier Owens and Luetta Colvin Milledge Awards Luncheon held in the Savannah Ballroom of the King Frazier Student Center at SSU. Savannah native Tatia Adams Fox, vice president for global partnerships, Nickelodeon, keynoted the luncheon, sharing the great strides that have occurred as it relates to diversity in media, also noting that the need for more diversity still exists. Fox was awarded the Robert S. Abbott Award for Meritorious Service in Mass Communications. Also during the luncheon, the Wilton C. Scott Award for Excellence in Scholastic Journalism was presented to Dr. Lisa Paulin, professor, North Carolina Central University and the Louis J. Corsetti Award for Excellence in Journalism was presented to retired professor Novella Cross Holmes.
Now in its 68th year, the SRPI is a twoday mass media conference primarily for college students from the Southeast; however, a few workshops are also provided for high school, middle and elementary school students who are involved in student media. Founded in 1951, the Southern Regional Press Institute is the third oldest scholastic journalism institute founded at a historically black college and university (HBCU) after the establishment of press associations at Florida A&M University (1950) and Lincoln University, Missouri (1949). Prior to integration, it played a significant role in the training and professional development of many of the country’s most renowned African-American journalists.
Marius L. Davis is a 2006 graduate and an adjunct faculty of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications at Savannah State University, and a former managing editor of The Savannah Tribune.