“Print Proud and Digital Smart” is the message of this year’s ACT 8 Experience, a one-of-a-kind magazine media conference at the University of Mississippi.
The ACT Experience, which stands for “amplify, clarify and testify,” is hosted by the Magazine Innovation Center at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. This year’s conference, set for Tuesday through Friday (April 17-20), brings in the top names in every aspect of the magazine media industry for the only comprehensive conference of its kind in the country.
This year, the discussions focus on a multiplatform approach to magazine media brands, whether in print or digital. The main goal of the experience is to have students directly interact with industry professionals with the goal of landing a job in the magazine industry.
“The idea is that the experience is student-driven,” said Samir Husni, Ole Miss journalism professor and Magazine Innovation Center director. “That’s why these professionals come here. The presence of students in the audience has a positive effect on the speaker, in which they lose their guard and engage more freely with the future industry leaders when they are at an academic setting.”
Husni launched the annual conference in 2010 with 14 featured speakers. After just eight years, the conference has grown to feature more than 30 speakers and nearly 100 total attendees, including CEOs of major magazine and marketing companies, publishers, editors and other industry leaders.
Journalism and magazine students have opportunities to network with industry professionals from major companies including Hearst, Meredith, Trusted Media Brands, LSC Communications, Sappi Paper Co. North America, Democrat Printing, James G. Elliott Co., and Delta Magazine.
Jim Elliott, president of the James G. Elliott Co., has served as a sponsor for all past ACT conferences and has attended six. Elliott said this conference is by far his favorite.
“It is the most interactive and informative of all the conferences due to the way it is set up,” Elliott said. “It is not only the speakers and attendees, but also the interaction with the students that makes this so valuable. I’ve always gotten a number of great ideas from this conference, and as an added plus, a number of summer interns.”
Anna Grace Usery, a graduate student in integrated marketing communications from Elkmont, Alabama, hopes to strengthen her established relationships with industry professionals and gain more insight into today’s magazine industry.
“Even though it can be overwhelming to realize these professionals hold impressive titles, they still enjoy conversation with us students because they know we are the future magazine industry leaders,” Usery said. “They understand their love for all things magazines extends to providing an avenue for future leaders to succeed, which is the essence of this conference.”
Each year, students have received job offers as a result of the experience, Husni said.
“They have a captive audience with these CEOs, and some of them leave an impression,” Husni said. “Our ultimate goal as professors is to get a job for those students. I feel like we fail the students if we don’t provide them with jobs when they graduate.
“Anytime we put students first, including them in these events becomes the normal thing to do.”
Students also will accompany registered participants on a trip through the Delta to experience the music, food and culture of north Mississippi. The group will travel to Clarksdale to visit the Delta Blues Museum and the Shack Up Inn, ending the day with dinner and music at Ground Zero Blues Club.
“As a man who attends a dozen media conferences a year, Dr. Samir Husni’s ACT Experience at the University of Mississippi is the best,” said Bo Sacks, president of Precision Media Group. “There is no other event that mixes students and professionals in such an intimate and thoughtful environment.
“It is an opportunity for students to meet and mingle with top magazine leadership and sometimes even get a job. I have made lasting friendships there and look forward to it every year.”
ACT 8 Experience lectures will explore a range of topics related to the magazine industry, including storytelling, advertising, creating digital platforms, reaching audiences and creating the best print product.
All lectures are free and open to the public and will be conducted in the Overby Center Auditorium. Registration for the conference includes all meals, additional sessions and transportation to and from the Delta.
A full schedule and registration can be found at http://maginnovation.org/act/
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