By Shelby Hartin
The University of Maine has welcomed a new organization to campus that aims to create opportunities for students in the Department of Communication and Journalism.
Under the advisement of professors Jennifer Moore and Michael Socolow, the Black Bear Media Association (BBMA) is in the process of receiving final recognition as a student organization at UMaine.
Moore, hired as an Assistant Professor in 2012, helped students start the organization in early 2013.
“I thought it would be a good idea to have an organization that would help develop professional skills and connect students on campus that were interested in being a part of student media that didn’t really know how to get involved,” Moore said.
The BBMA is focused on creating and fostering a culture of professionalism for any student on campus interested in journalism and communication. Providing students with media and career building opportunities, the group plans to organize events, such as resume workshops and events to generate interest in student media on campus. The organization is already planning guest speakers from the media to speak with students about a variety of topics, including how to plan for a career in journalism and related fields. Effectively, the BBMA is acting to create a network of communication and journalism alumni who are willing to help current students.
Moore aims to soon be able to step back into her advisory role and let students, like Shawn Berry, take over the majority of the organization’s planning. Berry is a senior journalism major and the current director of the BBMA, and has helped Moore in the foundational building of the organization.
“My hopes…is that we create a professional organization for students that can help develop their skills, reach out to campus media to get them involved and re-establish connections with alumni that are in the media field currently,” Berry said.
As the director of the BBMA, Berry will make decisions about what direction this young organization will go in. He hopes not only to benefit himself, but also to help new students become a part of something bigger on campus.
“Many students get involved in organizations by the time they are third or fourth year students and it is sometimes too late. If we can create a group that can recruit first year students to get involved on campus, I would be very proud,” he said.
In the future, Moore, Berry and members of the BBMA aim to expand their reach beyond the campus by becoming a chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
If they succeed in doing so, opportunities for students involved in the BBMA will grow to include national conferences, further networking with professionals, and ties to a widely respected organization in the journalism community.
Moore’s ultimate goal is to help students at UMaine become a part of something bigger. The BBMA is a step toward achieving this goal.