UNC Charlotte hosted the North Carolina College Media Association (NCCMA) for a statewide college media conference on Feb. 25. Over 200 student media representatives from 17 North Carolina colleges and universities attended the annual event.

The NCCMA was founded in 2007 out of Chapel Hill, N.C. Since then, the organization’s yearly conference has provided students with the opportunity to meet and engage with media professionals and members of student media organizations from across North Carolina.


Featured from left to right: Sunnya Hadavi, James Kmosko, Haywood Hayes, Bryson Foster, Josiah House and Sania McCoy.

“The conference is on a different college campus every year,” said Monica Hill, director of the North Carolina Scholastic Media Association. “A year in advance, we work on [finding] a campus to host, and UNC Charlotte graciously agreed to host everyone this year: seventeen campuses, small, large, private [and] public.” 

The event began with a complimentary breakfast and a welcome ceremony, after which Niner Times Editor-in-Chief Sunnya Hadavi hosted a panel discussion on journalism. Panelists included Tonya Jameson, director of civic advancement at Leading On Opportunity, and Evan Moore and Mary Ramsey, journalists from The Charlotte Observer. The panel gave a general overview of the journalism field and information on how to better represent underrepresented communities in news.

Following the panel, students had the option to attend one of several breakout sessions hosted by professors, journalists, authors and other media professionals. 

“I learned a lot in the first two presentations that were given,” said Eleanor Saunders, a second-year student from NC State. “The Launching Your Career Post Graduation [breakout session], I went to that one, and I learned that internships are key. The extra emphasis is really helpful.” 

The first breakout session was followed by a complimentary lunch and an award presentation. Niner Times and Nova Literary-Arts Magazine saw success in several award categories. After the awards were announced, UNC Charlotte Professor John Nance delivered a keynote presentation on developing empathy for marginalized groups. 

The keynote speaker was followed by two more breakout sessions and a bonus session with the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), a non-profit apolitical group dedicated to the preservation of free speech on college campuses. Other events at the conference included guided tours of Niner Student Media offices, a legal “crash course” with FIRE and a complimentary hot chocolate bar sponsored by FIRE. 

“I’ve had a lot of fun here,” said Emmy Martin, a third-year student from UNC Chapel Hill. “I got to meet a lot of students. I got to see UNC Charlotte media’s offices. [The event] was run really well. All the facilities and all the speakers were really talented. It was really fun to see everyone who got awards and talk to a lot of student newspapers, a lot of editors, a lot of editor-in-chiefs of different publications. I would love to [come back next year]. I don’t know who’s hosting, but I’ll definitely try.”