Monday, October 29, 2007

Great media personality

Last week was Mass Comm Week at school. With more than 50 speakers in more than 30 sessions, I was exhausted by end of day Thursday.

Our keynote speaker was Ralitsa Vassileva, anchor at CNN International. As chair of the week, I spent a lot of time with her and the one thing that struck me was how humble and sincere she was. I wasn't sure what I expected, but having worked in the media since high school, I was not expecting this. She is truly a nice, sweet, sincere person.

One example, after her talk, students lined up to speak with her, get her email address, etc. The speaker after her was local morning radio personality Bobby Bones and the room was utter confusion with students leaving after Ralitsa and more coming in to here Bobby Bones. Eventually, we migrated out into the hall. We're in the hall for several minutes, the door to the packed auditorium is open and I finally suggest we go down to the first floor where it is quieter and they could talk without having to whisper. We go downstairs and the director of the School of Journalism & Mass Communication offers her office, but asks Ralitsa if she would like to freshen up a bit before continuing. Ralitsa politely declined, saying this one student had waited to talk to her for 30 minutes and she didn't want to keep the student waiting. She talked to the student for at least 15 minutes. What a pro!

Not only did Ralitsa give the keynote at the school, she went with us to the celebration that night for the 10th anniversary of our graduate program. She also attended a dinner the director hosted, which included some of our top broadcast students. She also spoke for 45 minutes at 8 a.m. to an Intro to Mass Comm course. All the while she was an utter pro and did an excellent job with the students' questions, even when the questions were a bit loaded.

In addition to her being a sincere person, her talk was interesting. She grew up in communist Bulgaria and became a journalist with the fall of communism. She talked about coming to the US with her son and just two suitcases because that's all they had. She discussed meeting Ted Turner and what a visionary he was.

Students in the Online Journalism class were live blogging during the event. See what they wrote about Ralitsa. I know as a jaded media watcher, Ralitsa renewed my faith in the way journalism should be.

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