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2017 Emerge Conference brings brightest minds in media to UofGH

Jerry Chomyn addresses the students

The world of media is changing rapidly. Some of the brightest minds in media and journalism visited the University of Guelph-Humber April 25 for the Emerge Conference and a full day of discussions based around an urgent theme: Media Rehab.

A total of 22 speakers including New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen addressed a crowd composed of UofGH students, media professionals, high-schoolers and members of the public for a day of lively talks centred on the current state of media.

“It is our real honour to be able to host this event every year,” Media Studies Program Head Jerry Chomyn said in his opening remarks about Emerge, which is planned and executed by diligent fourth-year UofGH students in the Media Studies program.

“Everything that is being done today including the magazine, the videos, the organization, the pictures, the food, the refreshments – everything is being done by and organized by students. I think that’s very cool.

“There are a lot of people who think media is going downhill,” he continued. “I think we need to be critical. We need to ask questions about why the media does something a certain way. We can no longer accept the status quo is good enough.”

Students enjoying the Emerge selfie booth

Certainly, anyone interested in the future of media would have been fascinated by the array of accomplished speakers.

The keynote panel session featured CBC reporter and University of Guelph-Humber instructor Stephanie Matteis, Carleton University associate professor of journalism and award-winning CBC and Globe and Mail journalist Christopher Waddell and journalist Catherine Wallace, who is completing a year-long Atkinson Fellowship in which she was investigating the state of Canada’s news media and its future. The esteemed journalists engaged in a fascinating conversation about how to combat the rise of fake news.

Three keynote sessions were just as topical. Nora Young, host and creator of CBC’s Spark, contributed a thought-provoking presentation about surviving the coming “data boom,” which could signal a new era in information. Rosen, a prominent media critic in the U.S., brought a compelling look at how the media needed to regain credibility in a divisive political landscape.

“Trust in the news media itself is at historically low levels in the United States,” he argued in his presentation.

Christopher Waddell, Catherine Wallace and Stephanie Matteis in a keynote panel session.

A series of breakout sessions allowed attendees to choose from a bevy of interesting presentations. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Communications Manager Abby Albino explained the ongoing changes in sports communication, lifestyle blogger and former CP24 anchor Nneka Elliott shared her perspective on the evolution of media roles, while marketing agency entrepreneur Rachel David took guests behind the scenes of social-media endorsements.

Between the lectures, Emerge guests enjoyed scrumptious breakfast pastries and a hearty lunch provided by Toronto’s famous SanRemo Bakery.

Altogether, the conference showed how fast the media landscape is changing. In his remarks, Chomyn illustrated how committed UofGH’s Media Studies program is to staying ahead of those changes.

“I tell new students who come to this program: if you’re expecting a program that’s going to be the same as the one last year, you’re in the wrong program,” he said. “We change year after year, because media is changing.”

Learn more about Media Studies at the University of Guelph-Humber.

The Emerge Conference host addresses attendeesCBC's Nora Young speaks

Christopher Waddell and Catherine WallaceKeynote speaker Jay Rosen