A few thoughts from
a recent road trip
 

Note:  The views expressed in these blogs are of the authors themselves and do not represent the views of the School of Communications or Fellows Program. Blogs were edited for uniformity and space only, not for grammar or accuracy.  

 

Jordan Frederick (see bio)

Thursday, October 26, 2006; 10:19 PM
The Marriott Marquis Hotel
(Atlanta, GA)

            After a surprisingly short drive, we arrived in Atlanta around 9:36 in the evening. The ride itself was fairly uneventful; aside from a forty-minute pit-stop in South Carolina to grab a bite to eat around six, we drove all straight through. The apparently never-ending supply of DVDs certainly helped to pass the time—although I originally planned on getting some personal writing and pleasure reading down on the road, it became increasingly difficult to concentrate with temptations like “Donnie Darko,” “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Corpse Bride” diverting my attention.

            My first glimpse of Atlanta was impressive. It was certainly a step-up from Burlington, and the sky-line surpassed even my own beloved Queen City. Familiar with urban hubs such as New York City, it was pleasant to find myself driving through the nighttime lights of downtown Atlanta, I could feel my internal workings tuning themselves to the switch in atmosphere right away.

            The view from my 25th story hotel room window, though not particularly scenic (looking out over the parking lot of the Marriott Marquis adjoined to that of a Hertz building), the city beckons to me nevertheless. Despite the time, the headlights of passing vehicles tool by at a comfortable pace, and the champagne tinting of the high-rise lights bathe my view of the town in a golden glimmer. Dotting the maze of hotels, factories, corporate towers and looming bank buildings like an inset of emeralds, rubies and occasionally sapphires are the tiny pin-pricks of street lamps. Just beyond the curtain draperies, almost beyond my periphery, the peak of some building is illuminated by light fixtures secured from view behind its lofty cornices, the Romanesque architecture of a miniature Parthenon mounted at the center constantly attracting my gaze.

            I regret that there is little more to comment on, and hope to have more interesting news to relate tomorrow after we have embarked on our journey into the great realm of communications that lies beyond the opulent threshold of our hotel. Wish us luck, and God speed!

Post-blog note: I must make note that this entry is dedicated (and justly so) to Edward R. Murrow, the “father of broadcast journalism” without whom, I daresay, we would not be on this trip at all. To those of you who have read Bob Edwards’ book, I have little doubt that you will pick up on the “why.” With that, I sign out: Good night, Elon, and good luck.

 

Friday, October 27, 2006; 4:41 PM
The Marriott Marquis Hotel
(Atlanta, GA)

            We’ve been braving the rain for the past eight and a half hours, and are now happily situated back at the Marriott until supper. I won’t lie and say that I’m not disappointed by the way the weather has behaved for us, but I can’t say it was unexpected. Nevertheless, Atlanta still holds a strange allure, even in the downpour, and to see the city, whether it was from the safety of our charter bus or sloshing through puddles and sharing our limited cache of umbrellas, our brief stints of “sight seeing” have been quite nice.

            My group—journalism/corporate communications—got an early start this morning, meeting downstairs at 8:00 a.m. before heading out into the cold for the Atlanta Magazine headquarters a few short blocks away. We spent most of our time seated in a large, plush conference room. One of the publication’s senior editors introduced us to the in and outs of one of Atlanta’s oldest magazines (this being their 45th anniversary) before showing us around the offices. Maneuvering as a group (about 22 in all) was less than comfortable in the narrow, circuitous halls, and being able to see into the workplaces became a battle among peers often won by those with height advantage or those who, like me, are swift of feet and manage to stay at the front of the pack. Afterwards, we adjourned in the conference room for a short Q&A with three members of the staff who were able to pull themselves away from the demands of an approaching deadline crunch to enlighten us as to the particulars of some of the specialized niches in the company, such as cover design, interning and a crash course in journalism ethics.

            Back at the hotel, all of the Fellows packed back onto the bus and set our courses for the Weather Channel, where we had a chance to hear from Severe Weather’s Stephanie Abrams (a meteorology buff and budding television personality) and Randi Stipes, a senior product manager for Weather.com. Our brief tour consisted of an investigation of the green room in which we were able to convince Professor Gaither to give us an animated imitation of a young Larry Sprinkle, after which we were herded into the lobby-level café and treated to a complimentary lunch.

            It turns out that, due either to the weather, traffic, or a small miscalculation in our other-wise flawless time management, we were all late for our next stops. Having dropped the Broadcast Journalism Fellows off at ABC studios and half of the Journalism/Corporate Communications Fellows at Weber Shandwick, my group arrived a half-hour late to Ketchum PR agency. Although I have no inherent desire to pursue a career in public relations (my specialty being in print journalism), I was impressed with the knowledgeability of our speakers and by our visit as a whole, compared even to what we experienced with Atlanta Magazine. The complexity of the business in general constantly perplexes me.   My uncle’s employment with PR NewsWire has always been somewhat enigmatic, and I was surprised to learn the extent to which Ketchum works within the corporate world, boasting clients such as Cingular Wireless (soon to merge with AT&T and dropping Ketchum). I was disappointed, however, to hear that one of the major factors for our first speaker’s delving into the elusive realm of PR was largely a matter of a significant pay raise. Although I appreciated his honesty, I can’t say his testimony endeared me to the trade in general. Nevertheless, the respective presentations of our three hosts (all male, though our guide was a young woman with two years’ experience with Ketchum) were well-prepared, and the ease with which they answered the questions of the few of us brave enough to pose them was commendable.

            I have no commitments until seven, and therefore plan on engrossing myself in Jared Diamond’s Collapse for the next hour and a half. I look forward to another evening of the superior accommodations the Marriott has to offer, and hope to take advantage of the presence of an actual bathtub before bed. Until the morrow!

 

Saturday, October 28, 2006; 6:05 PM
Somewhere between Charlotte and Elon

             The Fellows and our dedicated advisors are on the road again, with about an hour left on our journey back to campus. We spent the morning touring Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves, enjoying a breakfast of café pastries in the upstairs team dining facility. Elon alumni Matthew Montemayor showed us around the announcer boxes and introduced us to the immense HD-TV equipment used by the media relations staff (of which Montemayor is a member) to broadcast in-house snippets including player stats and replay shots. Despite the frigid temperature and the otherwise blustery weather, everyone enjoyed traipsing down to field level where we were specifically instructed to stay off the meticulously trimmed grass under the threat of a severe chastisement by the house security toughs.

            We’re pulling off onto the exit to the campus now, so let me conclude by saying that our trip was immensely enjoyable and, I dare say, very productive. Thank you, dear reader, for bearing with my tedious commentary. Best wishes!

 

 

Dan Martins (see bio)

 On the way to Atlanta            

So I just finished reading the requirement in the book about Edward Murrow.  I’m really glad I read chapter 5 and 6…right now they have been the best chapters in the book.  Yep, “Sweet Home Alabama” is playing…shoot me. So basically I’ve got nothing to do, so I figure I might as well pound another one of these out just to pass the time. We just passed Clemson University, alma mater of my AP economics teacher in high school and one of our high school tennis teams’ members currently is studying there.  It’s really fun just watching the headlights go by on the other side of the highway.  It’s completely dark with the only light coming from other cars or the minute moon.  The crescent-like form is being masked by the clouds.  You can barely see it right now.  I’m really bored, but I’ll make it through.  Margeaux still has my pillow.  It looks like Dr. Gaither, whom I will call Kenn here on out, is reading a newspaper and Dr. Eke is intently watching Sweet Home Alabama as if it were his favorite movie. 

 

Arrival in Atlanta

              This hotel is amazing -- it has 48 floors.   The moment we got here, we went to our rooms and Sammi, Russell, Brandon, Katie and I went to the top.  When we were finished at the top of the hotel, we took the stairs to our floor which is the 25th floor.  Andrew, Lindsey and I went downstairs to see if we could get a wireless signal.   We got one, but we had to pay for it and we weren’t too keen about that.  Our rooms have two beds and no refrigerator, which I think is weird.  I don’t know why, I wish my laptop wasn’t about to run out of batteries.  So far this trip has been amazing, and I’m so glad the Communication Fellows Program picked up most of our expenses.  Paying only $75 for a trip like this, staying in such a luxurious hotel and with the transportation and meals, it’s absolutely amazing.  What a wonderful experience, it may sound a little hokey and brown nosey, but I would strongly encourage people to come on this trip. 

In addition, I found two other people that are LOST fanatics like me.  Hilary and Brandon are LOST fanatics.  I’m going to have so much fun on this trip, the people here, all the Fellows are knit pretty tight and there are some strong friendships being made.  I wish we didn’t have to get up so early to go to CNN but it is going to be absolutely worth it.

Just looking upwards in this hotel is crazy.  There are so many floors it makes me dizzy.

All right, it’s about 12:45 and I’m about ready to head on up and charge my iPod and computer.  Sleep tightly, and have sweet dreams, hopefully I’ll get up and not have to be left behind by our group.

 

Day one   

So I woke up at 7:00 a.m. today.  I showered last night thus I need not shower today.  I’m wearing a gray dress shirt with black dress pants, a black belt and black socks and shoes.  It’s raining outside here at Atlanta so I have my jacket which is also black. Rich Landesberg and Staci Saltz are our trip leaders for the broadcast fellows.  Our first destination today is CNN.  I’m very excited.  A new day means a new life for all my electronics so I’m very excited about that.  Randy will try to film at CNN.  We got complimentary copies of USA Today here at the hotel which is exactly like Elon. Whoops we’re leaving…see ya!

 

Entry   #2

We’re behind schedule. This morning we walked through Centennial Park in order to get to CNN.  It was really neat to see the place that we saw on television ten years ago when it was bombed during the Olympics.  Even though it was too early, CNN was fun. We got to see all the neat stuff behind the scenes.  I was really tired, and I am kind of cranky.  We went to the CNN store, and I made it goal to buy a keychain that spins.  I have bought a spinning keychain nearly everyplace I have gone.  I also realized how some people have not really been around things like this before.  I know a lot of people who have not ever really seen a live news room or been in a television station.  I’ve gone to my local TV stations on tours before, like behind the scenes and everything, so some people have appreciated the tour a lot more than me.  Well, maybe not “appreciated,” but have been riveted by the tour more than me.  I wouldn’t say that I’m insensitive; CNN was huge and that completely blew me away, it’s just that I’ve seen things like that before, obviously not on such a grand scale, but an equivalency.  I also realized how cool it would be to go overseas and become a reporter for a foreign news source.  One of the women that spoke to us mentioned that they had worked for DeustcheWelle, which is the German equivalent of the BBC.  I am considering taking a foreign language or continuing my experience in German to do this. 

 

After CNN, we traveled to the Weather Channel.  On the way there, I fell asleep on the bus. The power nap was amazing -- I felt so refreshed.  When we got to the Weather Channel, we had to wait in line to get nametags, and then we went upstairs to a conference room.  We heard a couple of people talk about the Weather Channel and experiences they have had.  Visiting the Weather Channel was a great experience, and I found a desire to pursue meteorology.  We got to play with a green screen.  Katie had a green sweater on thus her torso was invisible and she was nothing more than a floating head.  Weather Channel also provided us with lunch in which we were rushed in eating.  We left about 15 minutes later than we should’ve but it was okay.  Lunch was free.  I had catfish and macaroni and cheese.  Weather Channel was way laid-back and it seemed like everyone there had a lot of fun doing their jobs.

 

 Entry #3

So we left Weather Channel late as I said, and our next stop was at ABC News in Atlanta.  We had difficulty finding where exactly we could enter so we spent a little bit of time outside in the rain.  ABC in Atlanta is 100 percent analog.  Ahh, back to the beginnings of my communications career.  In high school, we used all analog.  The year I left was the big push towards changing over to digital.  So seeing all the analog equipment was a blast from the past.   I was surprised at the fact that not very many people worked at the bureau considering it controlled news for 13 states.  Apparently, they have been downsizing for years now and the head honcho there seemed a little glum about the bureau’s status.  As a gift of appreciation, we gave our Fellows t-shirts to the people that gave us the tour and took time out of their day to show us around.  In return, ABC gave us key chains, hats, and pens.

  

That’s all for now…Oh, interesting fact that I saw at a bank in Atlanta on a sign in front…Atlanta currently has 4,827,197 people living in it.  Crazy stuff.

 

Day two: Back to Elon

So this will be the final entry because we arrived at Elon University around 7:00 p.m. today.  Nothing really special happened upon arrival.  Russell and I headed back to Sloan 109 to unpack and just recap everything that went down.  We were both bummed that we weren’t in Atlanta.  We had so much fun.  It was such a wonderful experience.  I’m happy that our professors took us on such a trip and I’m glad all the wonderful companies welcomed us.  Everyone on the floor who isn’t a Fellow said they missed us.  I guess the Communications Learning Community isn’t the same without us around.  Who would’ve thought?

 

Alright! That’s all, folks!

-Dan the Man

 

Caroline Matthews (see bio)

PR or journalism? Broadcast or radio? What about cinema? What really does it mean to work in PR? What are the perks of being a freelance writer? Can Elon really prepare me for what’s out there?

The Journalism and Communications Fellows annual trip to Atlanta helped put real world communications in perspective. We toured local agencies that focus on the journalism, corporate and broadcast fields, including CNN, an ABC affiliate, Atlanta Magazine, Weber Shandwick, Ketchum, and Turner Productions at Turner Field.

The trip left a lasting impact on my future in the field of communications. Weber Shandwick President and School of Communications Advisory Board Member Ellen Hartman along with Atlanta Magazine Editor in Chief Rebecca Burns were among the top executives met during our trip. They emphasized over and over again the importance of internships. Weber Shandwick Assistant Account Executive and 2005 Elon alumnus Brett Willi was first an intern at his current agency and now is an employee working on several accounts.

Not only did the Atlanta experience help prepare me for my future, it also worked as a catalyst in fusing lasting friendships with my fellow, well, Fellows. Andie Diemer and I instantly bonded when we started comparing our weekly articles in the Pendulum. Similarly, Miriam Williamson, Kaitlin Carlin, and I are all struggling with the decision between either print or corporate communications. Now we hang out most weekends and talk about subjects that don’t have anything to do with class.

More importantly, I could have not experienced such an awesome trip if it weren’t for the great faculty at Elon as well as the Fellows program. I am so thankful for choosing Elon with its centralized campus, small classes, and hands-on professors. My future definitely looks bright thanks to Elon. 

 

 



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