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ACT 7 Experience Focuses On Revival Of Magazine Industry

Magazines and print journalism matter, and that’s the theme at this year’s ACT 7 Experience at the University of Mississippi.

The conference, hosted by the Magazine Innovation Center at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media from Tuesday to Thursday (April 25-27), will focus on the revival of the magazine industry in terms of publishing, advertising, creating content and distribution. The event also allows students to network with industry professionals.

Created in 2010 by Samir Husni, Ole Miss journalism professor and Magazine Innovation Center director, the conference will feature more than 50 speakers and 50 other attendees, including CEOs of major magazine and marketing companies, publishers, editors-in-chief and other industry leaders. Students will be paired with industry professionals throughout event to learn directly from them.

“There is no other place where we have this collection of experts with future industry leaders, our students,” Husni said. “When they see students in the audience, they tell us stuff from the heart and it creates an intimate atmosphere. CEOs and freshman students are on the same level of communication.”

All conference lectures are slated for the Overby Center Auditorium and are free and open to the public, thanks to the support of industry leaders and their sponsorships.

Husni tells his students to leave an impact on the industry professionals they shadow, and some have.

At last year’s conference, Austin Dean, a senior integrated marketing communications major from Hammond, Illinois, shadowed Jim Elliott, president of the James G. Elliott Co. By the end of the conference, Dean was offered an internship at the company and spent his summer in New York working in the industry.

“For me, the benefits have been spending one-on-one time with publishers, editors and distributors, getting to know them and making reliable connections with them,” Dean said. “Dr. Husni does a great job at putting together this collective group of people and makes sure each of his students have someone they want to shadow.”

Ashlee Johnson, a senior integrated marketing communications major from Monticello, Arkansas, enjoys the intimate aspect of learning from both the guest speakers and Husni.

“Even people that work with these professionals don’t get to know them like we do,” Johnson said. “It’s a great opportunity and it’s good for professional development.

“Another great part of this conference is watching Dr. Husni interact with the speakers. He is so well-respected in the industry. He’s a hidden gem in Mississippi and we’re lucky to have someone who cares so much about their students as a mentor.”

Students will accompany the guest speakers on a trip through the Delta to experience magazines, music and Mississippi. The group will travel to the B.B. King Museum, Dockery Farms Historic District and Delta Blues Museum before ending the evening with dinner at the Ground Zero Blues Club.

The conference, in its seventh year, has grown dramatically after beginning with just 14 speakers in 2010. It even has its own band, the ACT Band, made up of musicians from the Delta, the Netherlands and New York City that will perform at Ground Zero.

“When I started the Magazine Innovation Center, it was at a time when everyone was saying print is dead and new media is in,” Husni said. “It’s not an either/or situation. Print, broadcast, digital, mobile, social media – it’s all journalism. The necessity will never change, regardless of the platform.”

Husni teaches his students to be strong writers first to break into the industry.

“When magazines hire, they want writers,” he said. “The other stuff is great, but journalism is still what’s important.

“Magazine industry leaders are experience-makers. Reading a magazine is unlike reading something online. It’s an experience packaged together in your hand.”

A full schedule of events is available at https://maginnovation.org/act/.

By Christina Steube

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