Communication Colloquium highlights industry’s technological trends

Keynote panelists, from left, Tom Daly, Jason Munson, David Vigilante and Greg Agvent. Not pictured…

Georgia (Oct 2, 2015)

Keynote panelists, from left, Tom Daly, Jason Munson, David Vigilante and Greg Agvent. Not pictured is Mike Neumeier, principal of Arketi Gorup, who served as moderaor.

Media and PR executives prepare students for changing landscape at third annual forum

KENNESAW, Ga. (Oct. 2,2015) — From the use of drones for storytelling and data collection to the growth of mobile technologies and location-based services, communication and media students can anticipate vast changes in the way their professions are practiced, industry executives said this week during a keynote panel at the third annual Communication Colloquium.

Kennesaw State’s recently named School of Communication and Media and its National Advisory Board sponsored the forum, which attracted some 300 students, faculty and guests. They heard representatives from newsgathering organizations; multinational companies; and public relations and advertising firms describe how technologies are shaping both their content and methods.  

CNN, for example, is pioneering in the use of drones, according to panelists David Vigilante, senior vice president, and Greg Agvent, director of news operations. 

“CNN saw the potential of aerial camera platforms a couple of years ago and decided to work with the Federal Aviation Administration, which has taken a lot of heat from some in our industry,” said Agvent, who noted that CNN has been named to the FAA’s “Pathfinder” program to help shape regulations for commercial uses of drones. “We’re taking a leadership role because we feel a responsibility to help grow a nascent technology with a potentially huge impact on our business.” 

 Agvent said not only do drones provide news operations a way to gather video to help tell stories, they also offer an opportunity to collect many kinds of data that can add depth to the reporting. He cited the case of the recent drought in California. 

“We can hang moisture sensors to measure the agricultural impact, specifically on grape crops, and project the impact on wine production,” Agvent said. “It allows us to develop more sidebar stories to the news.”

At Cox Media Group, parent of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WSB-TV, Jason Munson, senior director of digital news, technology team, said his team is primarily focused on repackaging newsroom content for digital media channels. To do that, they create “personas” representing various market segments and specifically develop apps and content targeted to those segments. They also monitor trends on which stories are picking up traction, and then continue to build on those stories.

“That’s current state technology,” Munson said. “Aspirationally, we’re moving towards a ‘digital first’ mentality in terms of how we tell stories. That requires a lot of retraining.”

Tom Daly, an interactive marketing executive with the Coca Cola Company, said for global businesses, mobile technology figures prominently into telling stories about the intrinsic benefits of their brands and the extrinsic values companies want to communicate. 

“Mobile is more important today in terms of how we receive stories,” Day said. “It’s more personal, and it’s unique because it can take my analog world, digitize it, transmit is over a network and connect it with someone else anyplace they may be. Nothing else does that — not the computer, not radio and not TV.”

As these technologies evolve, they are changing the communication landscape in significant ways, CNN’s Vigilante advised. “The variables that can really change journalism are speed, portability and quickness of communication. When I started in this business 15 years ago, we used big trucks and satellite dishes to do our job. Now, all it takes is a laptop, and soon enough, it will only require a cellphone.”

For students, getting ahead in communication fields will require more technological savvy, the panelist agreed. “You don’t need to know how the watch is made, said CNN’s Agvent. “You just need to know what the watch does and how to use it.” 

Holding his cell aloft, Agvent continued: “Not everyone is a journalist. There’s a lot of training and standards involved. This is a tool, and tools won’t make you a journalist.”

Still, said Vigilante, it’s no longer enough to “park the technology people in a corner and let them do all the thinking.” “You can’t understand all the risks we face, and you may miss out on opportunities if you don’t stay on top of technology. You’ll at least have more value if you dip your toes into it.”

In addition to the keynote panelists, students also interacted with nearly 30 professionals speaking on panels covering the importance of global connections; milestones in Atlanta’s media history; trends in organizational communication and new opportunities in entertainment media. A special panel featured KSU alumni who are working in communication professions.

“This year's Communication Colloquium provided an amazing opportunity for our students to learn from and network with top professionals from leading organizations in media and communication,” said Barbara Gainey, chair of the School of Communication and Media. “This is the type of dialogue that will give our students an edge as they move into their careers.”

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— Sabbaye McGriff

Photo by David Caselli


School of Communication and Media 2015 Communication Colloquium


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit