/Local high school students get hands-on at Exploring Mass Comm Day 
Students at Exploring Mass Comm Day. Photo by M.K. Bryant.

Local high school students get hands-on at Exploring Mass Comm Day 

By M.K. Bryant 

On Sept. 27, the University of Montevallo’s Mass Communication Department invited local high school students to visit Strong Hall for Exploring Mass Communication Day. This annual event is intended to give students a preview of the major.  

Throughout the morning, students participated in workshops simulating classes in the mass communication department’s broadcast production and multimedia journalism concentrations. These workshops included running a film set, on-camera directing and producing, DIY mobile video production and newswriting.  

The event was also covered by WBRC reporter Jonathan Skinner, a 1983 alum of UM’s mass communication program. 

This was mass communication instructor Kayley Martin’s first Exploring Mass Communication Day as a UM faculty member.  

“I got to come to Exploring Mass Comm Day when I was a staff member here years ago, just to help out, so it’s really fun being on the faculty side now and telling the students how I was shaped by this program,” Martin said.  

Martin hosted the DIY mobile video production workshop. The purpose of this workshop was to show students different ways to get quality mobile footage without the use of professional equipment. These methods included DIY gimbal shots where a student sat in a rolling chair, filming while another student pushed the chair down the hall, and attaching their phones to bricks with rubber bands to see how it stabilized their footage.  

Montevallo High School senior Isabella Ramirez said, “We were trying to work with stability with our phones by using something that’s not as high technology and figuring out how to make it look the same way that expensive cameras and tripods and things like that look.” 

Members of the Strong Hall production team also helped to facilitate some of the workshops.  

Junior mass communication major Kaitie Wayne helped set up equipment for Dr. Logan Freeman’s film set workshop.  

“We’re really just there to help facilitate high school students getting to experience what it’s like to be on set without actually having to be on set, because that’s pretty stressful,” Wayne said.  

This workshop helped students familiarize themselves with different positions included on a film set.  

“We delegate positions and have them act as if they’re that position shooting a specific scene. They read the scene, and then we introduce lighting equipment and the difference that lighting equipment makes,” Wayne said.  

This was Wayne’s third year working at Exploring Mass Communication Day.  

“I’m just trying to encourage the students to attend our department by making them feel welcome,” Wayne said.  

In the on-camera directing and producing workshop, students learned about the different crew positions involved in a live studio production. This workshop was run by Dr. Jay Cofield, Dr. Samantha Kocan and Daniel Vest.  

The newswriting workshop, run by Dr. Bruce Finklea, introduced students to the fundamentals of journalistic writing, including topics like AP style and when to use active and passive voice.  

Exploring Mass Communication Day gave students the opportunity to learn new skills in a facilitated, hands-on environment.  

“A lot of high school students don’t really know what they want to do, so what we’re trying to do is introduce them to this; to all the different ways that you can be a storyteller,” Cofield said.  

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M.K. Bryant is a contributing journalist for The Alabamian. She’s majoring in mass communication with a concentration in multimedia journalism, and she’s double-minoring in theatre and creative writing. When she’s not busy watering her plants or writing, M.K. can probably be found wandering around an art museum or a library.