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UofGH's 2018 Emerge Conference gathers media's top minds for discussion

The Emerge sign

Some of the most renowned minds in media, journalism and communications recently gathered for the Emerge Conference, an annual one-day summit on emerging trends in the media industry created and presented by students in the University of Guelph-Humber’s Media Studies program.

Held at the picturesque Assembly Hall in Toronto, this year’s Emerge brought together esteemed speakers with an interesting perspective on this year’s theme, “Success: Your Terms, Your Path.”

With UofGH’s students taking responsibility for every element of planning, organizing and presenting the event – with help from Media Studies instructors and UofGH staff – this year’s Emerge Conference was a polished, professional and provocative event.

“I’m so proud of the media students and their instructors,” said Jerry Chomyn, Program Head of Media Studies at UofGH.

“This year’s conference topics were top-of-mind media issues including fake news, gender issues, and the evolution of media. There was something for everyone, from media practitioners to media studies academics.”

The audience observing a seminar

After opening remarks from Chomyn and host Julian Klimczyk, Emerge began with a seminar on personal branding from Toronto-based entrepreneurs Nicole Pollock and Jorie Brown of Cotton Candy Event Staffing.

The fascinating panel session that followed prompted some quite impassioned discussion.

UofGH instructor Heath Applebaum moderated an exploration of media ethics in the age of “alternative facts,” featuring Toronto Star chief investigative reporter Kevin Donovan, former chairman of the department of communication studies at Mount Saint Vincent University Patricia Parsons, and Tom Henheffer, who is the former executive director of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression and former director of news and digital at Vice Canada.

“That concentration on generating traffic has been damaging to the journalism world as a whole, but we might be starting to come out of that a little bit,” said Henheffer at one point.

A three-person roundtable on alternative facts

After a delicious lunch provided by sponsor SanRemo Bakery, attendees were treated to an afternoon session from Kevin Kennedy and Noah Frankel of Homestand Sports, who shared lessons in how they stood out in a saturated sports media landscape.

West End Phoenix Editor-in-Chief Dave Bidini presented next on reinventing local, community newspapers in the digital age. Bidini, who is also an award-winning author and the frontman for the Canadian rock band the Rheostatics, brought insight into how his ad-free, non-profit monthly publication is providing a platform for local writers, artists and story-tellers.

Finally, Angela Misri closed the conference with a speech that seemed to resonate with the students in the audience. Misri, who is digital director for The Walrus in addition to being an award-winning author, shared the personal journey that took her from medical school to a journalism job with the CBC and finally to writing books and screenplays while continuing her work in digital media. Afterward, Misri was happy to chat and connect with a long line of UofGH students eager to gain more insight into her unique career.

The conference also allowed audience members to submit questions digitally or remotely via a phone application, ensuring that the day’s seminars were as interactive as they were illuminating.

“The conference was informative and entertaining,” Chomyn said. “I think the students really got it right.”

Patricia ParsonsThe alternative facts panelAn Emerge T-shirtThe audience at EmergeOne of the guest speakersDave BidiniAngela MisriA Cotton Candy Events co-founderThe Emerge signMedia Studies Program Head Jerry ChomynCotton Candy Events co-founder addresses the audienceA cell phone capturing the event