Dreams realized at “DreamHU”

written by Erika A. Salter

Fifteen years ago the term “digital media” seemed vast, intangible, and incredibly sophisticated. I remember being a teenager in high school, hearing the term used to describe the process by which filmmakers created unbelievably complex visual effects in Sci-Fi movies like Star Trek.

Fast-forward five years, my college buddies and I were making after class plans with each other and turning in course work to our Professors without speaking face-to-face using digital media. We were on Facebook, and Myspace… and let us not forget Black Planet; which was all the rage of HBCU life during the height of its popularity. The transition from unknown world of “digital media” to commonplace space of “social media” was seamless.

This past September, nearly 75 fellow Hampton University alumni, students, and professors converged at the headquarters of Bloomberg media company in New York City to examine how digital and social media affects our world as diverse media-makers, journalists, and entertainers.

Brett Pulley, Dean of the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications hosted the inaugural “DREAM Digital” Symposium (Diversity Re-Imaged … Engaging All Media). The event appropriately adapted a hashtag, #DREAMHU, and immediately I noticed attendees taking to their mobile devices. I quickly followed suite pulling out my MacBook, which was tucked away in observance of the Symposium. Within minutes I connected with three amazing media-makers via Twitter as we exchanged tweets about our thoughts on the topics being discussed. The exchange was a lot like my first personal experiences with digital media in college but better… faster, stronger. It was instantaneous.

The program for #DREAMHU included panel discussions titled, “Building the Buzz for a Multicultural Audience” and “Multicultural Goes Mainstream,” which were moderated by Sharon Epperson and Michelle Miller, CBS News Correspondents.  Desiree Rogers, CEO of the Johnson Publishing Company, and Rob King, SVP of Editorial, Digital, and Print Media for ESPN, talked about recruiting diverse talent in a digital media space.

Alvin Bowles, CEO of Grab Media, Alix Baudin, SVP / GM of Digital Operations at Scripps Networks Interactive, and Kierna Mayo, Editorial Director of Digital at Ebony Magazine discussed the value that social media has provided in allowing media makers to quantify their engagement with audiences. Hearing these powerful executives affirm ideas that have been swirling around with my team and I at SalterENT was rewarding. At SalterENT, we mull over these topics often as we seek to have deeper and more meaningful engagement with our clients and social media friends.

My thoughts are diversity and multiculturalism in media is the buzz. The diverse audience is the majority consumer across the most used platforms. According to a recent study published by Pew Reseach Center in August of this year (www.pewinternet.org), Blacks and Hispanics are more likely to use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

As we enter the last quarter of 2013, I marvel in how rapidly digital media has become integrated into our daily lives. It is no longer this other-worldly thing that applies to sci-fi films yet it is a medium that creates a more efficient landscape for us to communicate, transmit, and share our ideas and stories.

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