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Journalism students get hands-on training by helping CNN with live town hall forum

Dr. Elayne H. Anthony, far right, chair of the Department of Journalism and Media Studies at Jackson State University, led her students in working with CNN’s production director. (Photo courtesy of CNN)

Dr. Elayne H. Anthony, far right, chair of the Department of Journalism and Media Studies at Jackson State University, led her students in working with CNN’s production director. (Special to University Communications)

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren addresses the audience during a live town hall forum inside JSU’s Rose E. McCoy Auditorium with CNN anchor Jake Tapper. (Photo courtesy of CNN)

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren addresses the audience during a live town hall forum inside JSU’s Rose E. McCoy Auditorium on Monday with CNN anchor Jake Tapper. (Photo courtesy of CNN)

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Miss JSU Gabrielle Baker, a mass communications major from Memphis, assisted the production director and worked with the audio and sound crew. (Special to University Communications)

Miss JSU Gabrielle Baker, a mass communications major from Memphis, assisted the production director and worked with the audio and sound crew. (Special to University Communications)

Presidential contender Sen. Elizabeth Warren told JSUTV on Monday that HBCUs are “powerfully important,” and her message became evident as journalism students assisted CNN with its production of a town hall forum on Jackson State University’s campus.

Warren credited the HBCU for “shaping not just educational opportunities but the future leaders of America.”

Dr. Elayne H. Anthony, chair of the Department of Journalism and Media Studies, worked with University Communications and CNN to involve students. About 12 undergraduates labored for several days assisting with lighting, sound, setup and other aspects of the live production that aired nationally as well as abroad.

Students gain experience

“We worked with every dimension of the broadcast,” Anthony said. “Students also served as runners by gathering information for CNN. As well, they got a chance to work hand in hand with the technical crew.”

One of the student volunteers was Miss JSU Gabrielle Baker, a senior mass communications major from Memphis.

“It was nothing short of amazing. I got to see how a world-renowned network puts together a town hall. This was awe-inspiring. The way CNN transformed the Rose E. McCoy Auditorium was awesome. It didn’t seem like the same place.”

Baker said her responsibilities included assisting the production director and working with the audio and sound crew by doing voicers.

Clement Gibson, a senior from Minneapolis, described his experience of working with CNN for the live broadcast as a “perfect opportunity” because he’s an aspiring filmmaker. He also helped set up Warren’s dressing room. (Special to University Communications)

Clement Gibson, a senior from Minneapolis, described his experience of working with CNN for the live broadcast as a “perfect opportunity” because he’s an aspiring filmmaker. He also helped set up Warren’s dressing room. (Special to University Communications)

Also, she said she was thrilled to meet Warren and her team, which took an interest in Baker’s skills and urged her to connect with them in the near future.

“I’m grateful and blessed to have people at an institution like JSU guide us. My department works tirelessly to see students like me blossom and develop. If it had not been for my department, I would not have been afforded this opportunity.”

Another JSU mass communications student was equally enthralled by the experience of working with CNN.

‘Steppingstone for my future’

Clement Gibson, a senior from Minneapolis, is an aspiring filmmaker, and described his experience as a “perfect opportunity.”

“Going through pre-production and seeing how things work – good and bad – and the amount of people it takes to put something like this together, was simply extraordinary,” Gibson said. “I will remember this forever. This is a steppingstone for my future.”

Gibson said watching the political forum was a first for him, but he was inspired by Warren’s enthusiasm. “I set up her dressing room. She was lively and a joy to be around. The event itself was good because the demographics included a good mix of people – white, black, young and old. I’m grateful to Dr. Anthony and the mass communications department for letting me be part of this.”

Meanwhile, Anthony is hoping for more opportunities for future graduates and her staff to gain practical experiences.

“This was a great learning exercise for students. It was wonderful to see faculty at work with them. Anything that puts us in a real-word situation is good for everyone,” Anthony said.

The “crew in black” represents faculty and staff in the Department of Journalism and Media Studies who helped CNN with several logistics. (Special to University Communications)

The “crew in black” represents faculty and staff in the Department of Journalism and Media Studies who helped CNN with several logistics. (Special to University Communications)

An audience member interacts with Warren during the forum. (Photo courtesy of CNN)

An audience member interacts with Warren during the forum. (Photo courtesy of CNN)