15 April 2014

PR Track Master's Grad Credits Buffalo State

Kathy Swenson '08 (Master's / PR Track) offered a video testimonial on how her experience in Buffalo State's master's program in multidisciplinary studies/PR helped advanced her career in public relations and fundraising.  See it here.

Swenson is currently the Executive Director of Mercy Hospital Foundation and Catholic Health Continuing and Home Care Foundation for Catholic Health Services of WNY, where she manages all fundraising activities and gift generation for both entities.

Those interested in the master's degree program should contact Professor Deborah Silverman at silverda@buffalostate.edu.   And visit and like the SUNY Buffalo State PR Track Master's Degree,  Multidisciplinary Studies page on Facebook for more information about the program.

Professor Paul DeWald's students produced the video as part of their Intermediate Video Production coursework.

Meet the Director at disABILITIES Film Fest April 25!

The Museum of Disability History and People Inc. are presenting the disABILITIES Film Festival and Speaker Series, which returns to Buffalo on April 25th with a screening of the documentary Raising Matty Christian, and talks by Keynote Speakers Christian de Rezendes (Director and Producer) and Paul Plotkin (Associate Producer).

The festival takes place at the Dipson Amherst Theater, 3500 Main Street with screenings at 3:00 & 7:00 (tickets $5.00).   The Reception with Keynote Speakers (free to film attendees) is at 5:00 p.m. at the Museum of disABILITY History, 3826 Main Street.

Raising Matty Christian (84 minutes) is an inspirational documentary profiling the life of Matthew 'Matty' Christian (1983-2009) who was born without full limbs and a tongue.  As told through interviews with his parents, brother and several close friends, the film paints a portrait of an inspiring young man who never took no for an answer, achieved a great deal of success and set out to live life to the fullest.

Watch the trailer for Raising Matty Christian here.

Director and Producer Christian de Rezendes has produced award winning feature films, including 41 (2007) a documentary about the youngest victim of the Station Nightclub Fire, and Alzira's Story (2000), a family inspired documentary.  His work has screened internationally at film festivals and has been broadcast regionally on PBS.

Your Mind on Media

Dr. Debra Gagnon, Center

Jesse Alt '14 (Media Production), Foreground

Approximately 110 students attended a lecture by Cognitive Psychologist Dr. Debra Gagnon of Wells College Monday (4/14) evening. The event included a lecture on neuroplasticity and how media use rewires the human brain, followed by a discussion of the implications of such changes. At the end of the discussion, a group of COM 450 (Media & Society - COM Capstone) students lobbied for a 72 hour class meeting/retreat in the woods for a digital detox experiment. 

This Communication Department event was co-sponsored by the Psychology Department and the Computer Information Systems Department, emphasizing the increasingly multi-disciplinary nature of communication and media studies. Event organizers hope to expand the event next year to include a panel of scholars from the fields of anthropology, economics, psychology, philosophy and American studies. 

14 April 2014

Engel Scholarship Deadline Extended

The deadline has been extended to apply for the Estelle M. Engel Memorial Scholarship, a $1,250 award available to an undergraduate major in the Communication, English, or TFA programs for the 2013-14 academic year.   The new deadline is April 18, 2014.


               *   Candidates must be full-time enrolled majors in Communication, English or TFA

               *   Candidates must have completed 4 semesters at Buffalo State, have at least 45 credit hours, and have one full year of school remaining

               * Candidates must exhibit evidence of writing ability by submitting four copies of at least 3 different writing samples and one letter of support from a faculty member in their department to the School of Arts & Humanies Dean's Office, Rockwell Hall 222, by April 18.

               * Candidate should write an application letter describing how receiving the award will make a difference in their life and help them attain their goals.

Three faculty members will review the written material and collectively decide the scholarship award recipient.  Applications will be reviewed anonymously.  Written notifications will be sent to all candidates.   Presentation of the Award will be made at the  Arts and Humanies Dean's Award for Excellence Ceremony on May 1, 2014.


13 April 2014

COM Grad & TFA Student Pick Up Prizes at SUNYwide Film Festival

Gabe Simon '11

Gabe Simon '11 (Media Production) won an Honorable Mention and $100 Gift Certificate to B&H Photo for his film, Siren, at the 2014 SUNYwide Film Festival, held April 10-12 at SUNY Fredonia.   Siren was one of only 23 films selected for screening from over 100 submitted films.  Buffalo State alumni who also worked on the film produced by Get Serious and Mouse Media Productions included David Van Keuren '11 (Media Production), Joseph Wachowski '12  (TFA) and Mark Hall '11 (Media Production).  Simon, who is credited as Director, Producer and Editor of Siren, is currently working as a Media Support Specialist at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, while continuing to produce his own films.

Production still, Siren

Grace Philips '15 (TFA) won the Narrative category for her short film, Scuba-Tap Man, which chronicles a young man's conflicted career choice.   With the honor Grace won a film equipment prize of a Revo Dual Grip Shoulder Support Rig and Senal DSLR/Vid Mini Shotgun Microphone.  Madison Amey '14 (TFA), Osman Shire '16 (TFA), Joey Springer '16 (TFA), Robert Sherman '14 (Music),  and James Toback '15 (Theater) also worked on Scuba Tap Man.

Production still, Scuba Tap Man
Also selected for the SUNYwide Film Festival was the short film Perfect Paths by Kraig Adams '13 (TFA) and Simon O'Keefe '14 (TFA). Congratulations to all those selected!

Goldman Featured at LGBTQ Events

Communication Professor Ruth Goldman will moderate a Diversity Bengal Talk featuring LGBTQ professional Damien Martinez, Program Coordinator of the Pride Center of Western New York.   The event, called "Moving Forward...Strong, Proud, United" will be hosted by the Office of Equity and Diversity, and will be held on Wednesday, April 16, 6:00 p.m. in Butler 210.

On Thursday, April 24, at 6:00 in Bulger 2South, Goldman will also co-host an upcoming presentation of the independent film, Gun Hill Road, along with Jason Parker, Program Director of the Office of Equity and Diversity.  The final film in this year's Diversity Film Series, Gun Hill Road (2011) stars Esai Morales and is notable for including a transgender character played by Harmony Santana, who is the first openly transgender actress to win an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Ruth Goldman & Jason Parker talk with students during a Q & A for the Diversity Film Series

12 April 2014

Meet The Black Media

Panelists Harold McNeil, Eva Doyle, Al-Nisa Banks, Dawn Bracely, Jennifer Parker & Brittani Smallwood

Last Thursday, a panel of print, radio and broadcast media professionals presented by the Buffalo Association of Black Journalists appeared before a packed house at "Meet the Black Media" in Bulger Hall, which followed a screening of The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords.   All Photos by Professor Michael Niman, who coordinated the event on behalf of the Communication Department.

Eva Doyle - Columnist, Buffalo Criterion
Al-Nisa Banks - Editor, Challenger Community News
Brittani Smallwood - WIVB News 4 Wake Up Team
Jennifer Parker - Public Relations Consultant

08 April 2014

The Record Wins NYPA Prizes

Buffalo State's student newspaper, The Record, won three awards in the 2013 New York Press Association's Better College Newspaper Contest.   Professor Annemarie Franczyk, Faculty Advisor to The Record, reported the NYPA awards today: first place for General Excellence; second place for Best Sports Coverage; and an Honorable Mention in Feature Writing went to Executive Editor Brandon Schlager, '14 (Journalism). 

This is the second consecutive year that the newspaper won NYPA awards.  Last year, The Record won first place in Sports Coverage, and an Honorable Mention for General Excellence.  

Since 1930, NYPA members have competed on a statewide basis in the annual Better Newspaper Contest.   The contest is designed to measure papers of similar size against one another in categories such as news, photography, and advertising.   According to the NYPA website, approximately 4,000 entries are received each year in all categories.

The General Excellence citation notes read: "Kudos to the staff at The Record.  This takes first place for the combination of details: clean masthead, crisp and careful attention to typography, ...well-written, informative and interesting columns, strong photos, decent balance of advertisements…Nicely done."

Congratulations to the entire staff of The Record!

30 March 2014

Public Com Alumna Visits

Devon Slobodzian '12 (Public Communication), an award-winning PR professional and Buffalo State graduate, spoke on March 19 to Principles of Public Relations and Advertising (COM 301) students about her career at Gelia, a global integrated marketing communications agency in Williamsville, NY.  In just two years since her graduation, she has transitioned from Public Relations Account Coordinator to Public Relations Account Manager to Copywriter at Gelia, and currently coordinates with several departments to undertake work for global B2B clients.

She advised students to get internships (she had six at WNY healthcare organizations) to network, and set themselves apart from other entry-level candidates for jobs.  A December 2011 summa cum laude graduate of our Public Communication program, Devon has won a Silver Excalibur Award from the Buffalo Niagara chapter of the Public Relations Society of America and three ADDY's from the Advertising Club of Buffalo for her work at Gelia.   Slobodzian also volunteers on the Marketing Committees of both The Boys and Girls Clubs of Buffalo and The Community Music School of Buffalo.

In her visit to Buffalo State, Ms. Slobodzian recommended that students keep all of Communication Professor Ron Smith's books, which she still uses on the job.

High School Journalism Workshops Return

The Communication Department at Bufalo State again this year will offer its popular intensive, five-day summer workshop for Buffalo-area high school students heading into their junior or senior year who have a serious interest in journalism.  

The workshop, to be held Aug. 11-15,  will introduce students to basic skills in news reporting, writing, editing, interviewing and the use of video. Students will get hands-on experience using state-of-the-art equipment and facilities.

Buffalo State faculty and professional journalists from Western New York will teach the sessions. Professor Annemarie Franczyk designed and leads this workshop.  Guest speakers and special guests have been invited. Students will produce original work across several multi-media platforms that will be posted online at the end of the week.

            • Work with Buffalo State journalism faculty and 
               local journalists

            • Get hands-on experience with state-of-the-art 

            • Learn techniques and skills to apply to your own 
               campus media

            • Have your multi-media report published online

            • Workshop runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day

            • $150 tuition includes all supplies and lunches for five 

            • Apply by May 31. Space is limited

Record Staff attends National College Media Convention

Leif Reigstad, Brandon Waz, Dave DeLuca,
Brandon Schlager

Eleven journalists from The Record student newspaper traveled to New York City to attend the Spring National College Media Convention, held March 12 to March 15.  

Sponsored by the College Media Association, the annual convention featured more than 200 seminars and workshops on topics such as digital and enterprise reporting, newsroom management, social media, resume building and included presentations by national journalists and networking opportunities.   It attracted 1,500 student journalists, college media advisers and others.
Colleen Young, Samantha Wulff, Lucy Lopez
Angelica Rodriguez
The Record's Culture editor Angelica Rodriguez said the experience was "very valuable." "The seminars were, for the most part, informative. It was really great to hear advice, tips and opinions from such experienced names in the media world," she said. "As editor of a more creative section, I learned a lot from the seminars I attended on narrative voice, profiles and finding great story ideas, and I can't wait to share that information with my writers."

Sports editor Leif Reigstad agreed the seminars were a highlight of the conference. "The conference sessions I attended were informative and entertaining, and it was really cool to see some of the top writers and editors in the business in person and listen to their stories about how they got to where they are and what they learned along the way," Reigstad said.
Keynote speakers at the conference included Scott Pelley, CBS news anchor and 60 Minutes reporter, who encouraged the students to seek careers in journalism, "the world's greatest continuing education program." His career, which started when was 15 years old, has taken him around the globe and put him in front of several U.S. presidents and other world leaders.

The Record's social media coordinator Lucy Lopez appreciated the words of another keynote speaker, Michael Skolnick, who promoted advocacy journalism as a means for change. "Michael Skolnik really hit home with me," Lopez said. "As social media becomes more dominant in journalism, I feel like he was really speaking to our generation to use it for the good of society."

Copyeditor Samantha Wulff said the conference left her feeling "inspired and refreshed" and thanked United Students Government for its help funding a portion of the students' expense. "It's great that USG made it a more affordable option by covering the cost of our hotel," said Wulff, who is graduating in May. "I wish I would have gone to this convention earlier in my college media career, but there were definitely post-college takeaways as well."

This was the second conference for Executive Editor Brandon Schlager, who attended last year with four colleagues from The Record. He said that experience prompted a redesign of the newspaper and the launch of its new website, http://www.buffstaterecord.com
Foreground; Lucy Lopez, Dave DeLuca
Second Row; Brandon Schlager, Angelica Rodriguez,
Samantha Wulff and Rachel Surdi
Also attending the 2014 conference were Rachel Surdi, business manager;  Autumn Evans, associate news editor; Colleen Young, associate culture editor; Dave DeLuca, associate sports editor; Johnny Moran, opinion editor and Brandon Waz, online editor.  Schlager, who also is graduating in May, said he is hopeful future editors will be afforded the experience of attending the conference. "For many of us, our time at The Record is coming to an end. Having gone for the second year, I can say that each trip has become the highlight of my time here at Buffalo State," Schlager said. "I think I speak for the staff, too, when I say I will never forget our trips to the Big Apple."


24 March 2014

Comm Internships Comply with Labor Law

 Increasingly, lawsuits are being are being filed over unpaid internships and legal issues surrounding them. A review just completed shows that the Communication Department complies with all the legal restrictions governing internships.
   Specifically, federal labor law requires that internships have an educational component. Ours do, with a course setting involving academic oversight by the department and with academic credits.
   Internship worksites must offer a legitimate professional benefit to students (such as writing news releases or shooting video, rather than getting coffee and running errands). We require a written agreement stipulating this, signed by the student and by representatives of the worksite and the department. Our interns also file weekly reports documenting their work activities.
   The law is clear that interns may not be used to replace paid employees. Our vetting process for worksheets makes this clear.
   Additionally, Communication internships generally are part-time, while the legal challenges have been over full-time unpaid internships. Also, the lawsuits deal mainly with for-profit companies, and most Communication interns work with exempt organizations such as public or government agencies and religious, charitable and other nonprofit organizations, in which the intern doesn't have any expectation of compensation beyond the academic credit and grade.

This is Your Brain on Media: Technology Changes Everything

A Presentation by and Discussion with Deborah A. Gagnon, Ph.D. Wells College
Monday April 14 starting at 6:00 p.m.
SUNY Buffalo State / Classroom Building C-122 
Open to the Public - Free Admission

Sponsored by the Buffalo State Communication Dept., Psychology Dept, 
Computer Information Systems Dept., and Office of Student Life

   Americans now spend most of their recreation time and much of their waking lives interfacing with communication devices ranging from smart phones and televisions to dashboard GPS systems and traditional computers. While these devices serve as a collective memory system, putting a seemingly infinite amount of data at our fingertips, what is this human-machine interface doing to our brains?  How does our new found relationship with networked media change the way we think and how our brains function?  An earlier evolution of information medium from the spoken word to the printed word   qualitatively changed how we think; is the more recent evolution to digital media changing it again?  Multi-modal media allow us to multitask like never before…or not?  Are there architectural limitations on the extent to which we can multi-task?

   This talk will address questions like these and will describe how technology may be changing not only neural structure and function but cognitive structure and function as well – how we perceive, attend, remember, make decisions, and use language.  This, in turn, has implications for how people take in messages from the media and use that information.  In other words, there is a synergistic maelstrom at work in which brain, cognition, and external influences (such as media) influence and determine one another.  Technology does, indeed, change everything but within limits, and whether that’s a philosophic good or evil depends, in large part, on the person asking the question…  

   Presenter Bio: Deborah A. Gagnon, Ph.D. is associate professor of psychology at Wells College and is currently chair of the psychology program as well as coordinator of the cognitive and brain sciences and the science, health, and values curriculum.  Dr. Gagnon earned her Ph.D. in cognitive psychology at the University at Buffalo and was a cognitive neuropsychology postdoctoral fellow in the Neuropsychology Research Institute at Albert Einstein Medical Center (Philadelphia, PA).  Her research in psycholinguistics has focused on uncovering the representations and processes involved speech perception and spoken word recognition and production in both normal and disordered (aphasic) systems.  Dr. Gagnon has taught at the University at Buffalo, Temple University, Widener University and, since 1994, at Wells College.  Her recent interests have focused on the implications of technology use on both cognitive processes and neuroplasticity. She believes she can take credit for coining the term ‘Technology Exposure Effect’ or the more pleasing acronym, TEE.           

For information about this event, contact Professor Michael I. Niman (nimanmi@buffalostate.edu) 

"Meet the Black Media"

Join us April 10 for a screening of "The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords," which will be followed by pizza and a discussion with six leading local African-American media professionals. This is an excellent opportunity for graduating communication majors to learn first-hand about the media business and the roles leading African-Americans have played in our media both historically and today.

21 March 2014

Journalist to Speak on Sexual Assault in the Military

Helen Benedict

   Award-winning journalist Helen Benedict will speak about Sexual Assault in the Military on Tuesday April 8, 12:15-1:30 p.m. in Bulger West, followed by a Reception and Book Signing.
   Benedict, a novelist and journalist focused on women soldiers, military sexual assault and Iraqi refugees is the winner of the Ida B. Wells Award for Bravery in Journalism.  She is the author of six novels and five books of nonfiction, including her latest novel, Sand Queen (2012), set in the Iraq War and culled from real life store of female soldiers and Iraqis.    Sand Queen was based upon research for Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq (2009), her last work of non-fiction.
   Benedict's articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, The Nation, The Women's Review of Books and many other newspapers and magazines.  Her journalism inspired the ongoing lawsuit against the Pentagon on behalf of women and men who were sexually assaulted while in the military.   She inspired Kirby Dick's documentary film, "The Invisible War," which won the Sundance Documentary Audience Award and was nominated for an Academy Award. Benedict has testified twice to Congress on behalf of women soldiers, and lectures at colleges and military academies around the country about gender justice and the military.  Benedict is a professor of journalism at Columbia University.
   The lecture is sponsored by the Student Life and Success Offices and the Communication Department.

20 March 2014

New Hirschberg Film Screened in NYC

Actors Kara Jackson, George Katt and Lynn Justinger on set
   Professor Jeff Hirschberg's latest short film - Why Can't They All Be Like Johnny Depp? - has been named an Official Selection at the Friars Club Comedy Film Festival and will screen in New York City on April 5. The festival reviewed hundreds of films from all over the world and selected only 32.
   The short film was adapted from Hirschberg's feature length script, Why Can't They All Be Like Johnny Depp?, which was a winner of the WGA Screenplay Reading Series, and was also directed by Hirschberg.