Student Media Association welcomes all

Hunter Deas, Copy Editor

Students interested in mass communication now have a student organization available to them. The Student Media Association (SMA), sponsored by the Mass Communication Department, is intended to provide a structured opportunity for students to expand on class experience.

The faculty advisor to SMA, Assistant Professor of Mass Communication Maria Lundberg, explained the benefits provided to students through the organization.

“It’s an opportunity for them to do things like interact with professionals in the industry, to do different activities, to invite different speakers in, and to perhaps take field trips,” Lundberg said. “Really it’s to enhance their learning experience in terms of being prepared, and trying to figure out what it is exactly they want to do, and making contacts, and learning more about different career fields, and just making them more marketable when they leave college and are ready to enter the workforce.”

The interaction with professionals offered through the SMA differs from that of the Mass Communication Department. Instead of shadow programs and internships, the SMA provides hands-on and networking experience with projects and guest speakers. Lundberg believes the experience can provide real benefit to mass communication graduates.

“(The SMA is) there as a way for them to connect with people who are out there in the industry working; that could lead to something like an internship or even a job when they get out of school,” Lundberg said.

Like all student organizations, the SMA has a faculty advisor; however, the organization, Lundberg emphasized, is operated and run by its members. While the faculty advisor ensures that the SMA operates within university guidelines, the students decide how to run the group. Student interest was revealed in a survey given to mass communication students last spring and led to the formation of the SMA this fall.

“The result that came back was overwhelming,” Lundberg said. “They really wanted it.”

Lundberg is excited by the opportunities presented by the group and the enthusiastic response she has seen from the members.

“I’m really excited about the potential for the group,” Lundberg said. “I think it’s also a really great way for students to get some leadership skills. Of course, that always looks wonderful on a resume, but more importantly it helps to get some of the skills and experience that are going to help when (they) leave here and go out into the world, looking for that first job.”

The group featured its first guest speaker on Wednesday, Oct. 6. during its third meeting this semester.

Chuck Crumbo, staff writer for The State, spoke to the group on the history of embedded reporting and on his own related experience in Afghanistan. Crumbo was embedded with the S.C. National Guard’s 218th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in 2007 and 2008.

Tray Graham, the president of the SMA, looks forward to regularly hosting guest speakers. He believes the speakers offer not only technical expertise, but also a way for SMA members to informally network in the mass communication field.

“It’s a great way to network if you’re going into mass communication,” Graham said. “People come in, and you can network with them. In this day and time, it’s not what you know, but who you know.”

Graham looks to foster student involvement through SMA, and he especially hopes to encourage students who are undecided in their majors to follow an interest in and major in mass communication. He also has high hopes for FMU and the Department of Mass Communication through the networking opportunities presented by SMA.

“Hopefully, we can see Francis Marion students working at the radio stations, the networks and different things,” Graham said. “(We can) get Francis Marion out there as a good mass communication school.”

Membership in the SMA is open to any and all FMU students with an interest in mass communication. The organization charges $10 per semester in dues. Interested students can contact Professor Lundberg, Tray Graham or attend one of the SMA meetings.

Mass emails regarding the meetings are sent to mass communication majors, and flyers are posted on campus.

The group meets at 1:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. on every other Wednesday in CEMC 106. The 5 p.m. meetings are held primarily for students who are unable to attend the earlier meeting.