Southern Regional Press Institute

The Institute was founded by the late Wilton C. Scott in 1950 to help high school and college students acquire skills in communications. Scott, a strong advocate of minority participation in the media, served as the director of public relations at Savannah State from 1947 until 1972. In his honor, Charles J. Elmore, Ph.D., institute director (1974-1975;1980-1986), established the Wilton C. Scott Award for Scholastic Journalism in 1981 at the 31st SRPI. It is awarded during the Institute to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the field of scholastic journalism.

Elmore also established a second award, the Robert S. Abbott Memorial Award, named in memory of Robert S. Abbott, founder of the Chicago Defender. It is  awarded to a communications professional annually.

In 1997,  institute director Novella Cross Holmes established a new award, the Louis R. Lautier Award for Career Achievement, which  is annually awarded to an outstanding journalist, and in 2009, she established the Louis J. Corsetti Award for Excellence in Journalism. In addition to workshops in photography, writing for multiple platforms, news, magazine and feature writing, new media, copy-editing, headline writing, broadcasting, public relations, advertising, and newspaper layout and design, all of which are instructed by media professionals from across the nation, the Institute also includes the following components:  

  • A publications contest for high school and college newspapers
  • A mini-documentary/video competition
  • Career preparation workshops for college juniors and seniors
  • The production of  The Pacemaker, the official newspaper of the SRPI
  • A demonstration and display of new technology available within the industry
  • Round-table sessions for faculty advisors
  • A feature-writing contest/high school and college
  • A photography contest/high school and college
  • A web page design competition
  • A sports writing competition

The two-day Institute is traditionally held in February or March. The Institute was coordinated by the director of public relations for the university from 1950-1986.  In June of 1986, the coordination of the Institute was moved to the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences  (then the School of Humanities and Social Sciences)  under the aegis of the Mass Communications Program, now the Department of Mass Communications.  Novella Cross Holmes, associate professor, Department of Mass Communications, directed the Institute for 22 years.  Reginald Franklin, associate professor, Department of Mass Communications, is the new director.

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