Students Gain Media Knowledge in the Big Apple

Students Gain Media Knowledge in the Big Apple


BVU students and faculty in Times Square: David Ekstrom, Jerry Johnson (assistant professor of digital media), Bri Funte, Jamii Claiborne (assistant professor of digital media), Kimberly Nelson, David Boelter (associate professor of art) and Grace Bodey.

Four Buena Vista University students recently earned the opportunity to accompany the digital media faculty to the College Media Association convention in New York City.

Students competed for four spots on the trip by submitting essays. Faculty members leading the trip were Dr. Bruce Ellingson, professor of digital media, and Jerry Johnson and Jamii Claiborne, both assistant professors of digital media.

“The students did not win anything; we emphasized that we were investing in them,” says Johnson. “This experience was an investment in their careers and their time at BV. They are the future leaders of the program.”

Bri Funte, a sophomore digital media major from Osage; David Ekstrom, a junior digital media major from Odebolt; Grace Bodey, a junior graphic design and digital media double major from Belvidere, Ill.; and Kimberly Nelson, a junior English major from Garnavillo, packed a lot of learning and experiences into their four days in the city. They arrived Saturday, and attended the convention on Sunday and Monday. Each hour, there were 15-20 sessions to choose from covering all areas of media from writing and reporting to recording and photography.

“I think the most important piece of information came from Sam Borden and Ben Shpigel (New York Times NFL beat writers for the Giants and Jets, respectively),” says Bri. “I’ve heard it several times, but they reinforced the idea that I need to keep updated by reading every single day.  I don’t have to know everything, but I must be able and willing to learn.  Keeping in contact with those who can help me is also key.  One of them spoke about how he would just chat with coaches, players, and even team members that don’t even play.  There is information everywhere; you just have to find it.” 

Students also had an opportunity to tour media businesses in New York City and listen to a writer from “The Daily Show.” They were fully immersed in the media culture that exists in the city.

“I am a digital media major, and New York is a media hub!” says Grace. “Being able to attend sessions with top media producers and creators helped inspire new ideas in all of us: ideas that will go towards improving the campus radio station, the newspaper, the TV station, and our own future careers to boot. We were really excited to bring back current trends and ideas that will benefit others and not just us.”

“The main theme was about how old and new media must work together,” Johnson says. “Students really need to have a broad understanding of journalism in today’s market. They need to know how to shoot video even if they’re a reporter, and those working for broadcast need to know how to write a story. There are a lot of ways to tell a story, and they need to have all the tools to tell it. We feel like our students are already on that track. This just drove that belief home and expanded it a bit more.”

In addition to educational experiences, the students also took in the culture and atmosphere of New York City – riding the subway, attending a Broadway production of “Mary Poppins” and checking out Times Square.

“We wanted them to get out of their comfort zone, and they dove right in,” Johnson says. “New York is a long way from Storm Lake. It was good to expose them everything the city has to offer.”

Even though it was outside what they are used to, at least one student saw New York as a possible future home.

“New York was an awesome place filled with all sorts of possibilities,” says David Ekstrom. “It is a place where I can see myself working sometime in the future. Going to the convention was an excellent experience and definitely a highlight of my college career. I can’t wait to share the knowledge I gained with my colleagues.”