“Freedom of Speech” Communication Week features events for various disciplines

From heated debates about world news coverage in the Common Ground Courtyard to screenings of award-winning films about the Middle East to the importance of health communication education, Communication Week 2007 had a little something for everyone in the School of Communication.

For the past two years, Sam L Grogg, the school’s dean, has encouraged program directors and individual faculty to set up the events and gather the speakers for this year’s ComWeek, which took place from Feb. 16 to 23.

“This year’s ComWeek has expanded greatly in terms of variety of events,” Grogg said. “I wanted to encourage people to come up with ideas for this ‘buffet’ and to add their ‘favorite dishes.'”

The first courtyard forum, “World News Coverage,” brought together three different perspectives on international journalism.

William Stebbin, who was representing Al Jazeera International, and Jody Benyunes, representing Broadcast Dynamics, both gave reasons why their news organizations are credible and a great source of information about the world outside the U.S.

Soon after the introductions began, a debate ensued.

“I believe that the coverage of Al Jazeera is radical,” Benyunes said. “Everyone recognizes Al Jazeera as a radical Muslim regime.”

The debate continued throughout much of the forum, which ended with a lesson from the panel to the students to always be skeptical and question where one gets information from.

Andrea Linares, a sophomore who attended the event, said her favorite part was the debate.

“I think they should have more debates for ComWeek,” she said. “It gets everyone’s attention and made me come up with questions myself.”

Another forum, “War on Terror: How the New York Times Covers Today’s Global Conflicts,” featured the deputy foreign editor of the Times, Ethan Bronner. This event also focused on international coverage, specifically the Middle East.

Bronner spoke of security issues and dangers reporters face in that region.

“This is a level of reporting that we have never dealt with before,” he said.

Ricardo Herrera, a senior who attended the Times forum, had never been to a ComWeek event in previous years.

“The university did such a better job at advertising it,” he said. “I didn’t even know about it last year. Now that I’ve gone, I think students should take advantage of this opportunity.”

Not all of ComWeek was devoted to international affairs. Two forums featured women speakers and were dedicated to how they broke through the “glass ceiling” in the media.

One of these forums, “Women Who Launch: Women Paving the Way in Media Management,” featured successful women, many of whom faced sexism in the work place.

Maritza Gutierrez, a speaker at that event, is the president of Creative Ideas Advertising.

“There is only a challenge when you think that there is a challenge to overcome,” she said. “You have to earn what it is you’re fighting for, no matter your gender.”

Other ComWeek events dealt with public policy, health communication, law and journalistic ethics, photography and advertising.

“What’s New in Advertising-And What’s Not” featured Chuck Porter of the Crispin, Porter + Bogusky firm. “Less than half have a degree in advertising,” he said of his employees. “All you need is brains, talent and passion.”

Grogg said that he feels ComWeek 2007 was a success; nonetheless, he still has ideas to improve next year’s ComWeek.

“I want more celebratory events, like the rap concert we had last year,” Grogg said. “I want to combine a good time with some good learning.”

He also hopes to eventually form a student committee responsible for planning ComWeek.

“These guests that we bring here for ComWeek are attracted to the students,” Grogg said. “They know that they are the bridge that connects the students to the real world.”

Janal Montagna may be contacted at

February 27, 2007


The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami

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