The Magazine Innovation Center will host the eighth annual ACT Experience Conference at the University of Mississippi starting today. ACT, which stands for amplify, clarify and testify, was first designed to promote the future of print journalism and the magazine industry in a digital age of journalism and communications.
Industry leaders such as magazine editors, publishers and professors of media will descend on the Ole Miss campus to meet students and deliver presentations throughout the conference. Samir Husni, the organizer of the event, said the conference was started in 2010 as a way to innovate the print industry. He aims to “creating an experience that would combine the future industry leaders with the current industry leaders.”
Husni said the event has garnered so much attention from the magazine industry that this year’s conference has the most sponsors and speakers of any ACT Experience Conference thus far. The conference has enough sponsors this year that the university doesn’t have to provide any money for the event.
“The important thing about the entire event is we make money from this event,” Husni said. “We raise enough money for the event that it does not cost the university a penny. In fact, we make enough money to run the entire program for next year.”
Husni said the event has become recognized throughout the nation and has brought a more positive connotation to Mississippi by transforming how people view the state.
“One of the people in New York told me that when they used to talk about Mississippi in the media circles, the first thing that came to mind was always about race and integration,” Husni said. “Now whenever they hear the word ‘Mississippi’ in the media circles in New York, the first thing that comes to mind is magazines.”
President of Precision Media Group Bo Sacks is a speaker at the conference and said the conference is something he always looks forward to, since he has made many friends and new connections at the conference.
“As a man who attends a dozen media conference a year, I always think Dr. Samir Husni’s ACT Experience at the University of Mississippi is among the best,” Sacks said. “There is no other event that mixes students and professionals in such an intimate and thoughtful environment.”
Senior Integrated Marketing Communications major Aja Bell is pursuing an optional specialization in magazine management. She is volunteering at the conference and also picking up two of the ACT Experience speakers from the airport.
“This is my first experience with the ACT Experience, and I’m really excited about this,” Bell said. “I’m looking forward to interacting with magazine industry leaders.”
The Samuel Talbert Silver Em Award, named after a former chair of the journalism department, is awarded annually to either a native Mississippian with a distinguished journalism career, or to a journalist who has excelled in journalism in Mississippi.
This year, the recipient of the award is Newell Turner, editor-in-chief of the Hearst Design Group. Turner earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism and Southern studies with advanced work specializing in magazine design from UM in 1982. He is a current member of the American Society of Magazine Editors and a trustee on the board of the New York School of Interior Design.
This eighth annual ACT Experience Conference will conclude on Thursday, April 19, after all participants travel to the Mississippi Delta to tour the Delta Blues Museum and sit down for dinner at the Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale.