October 21, 2019

VSU Journalism Students Explore Valdosta’s Progress in Press Event with Outgoing Mayor

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University journalism students recently gained ample field experience while exploring the progress the City of Valdosta has made in the last eight years during an exclusive press conference with Mayor John Gayle, whose second and final term ends in December.

The students, from Dr. Ted Geltner’s JOUR 3510: News Writing class, engaged Gayle in a wide-ranging interview that touched on several major projects for the city, including creating a downtown truck bypass, widening parts of Jerry Jones Road, building roundabouts at Five Points, and attracting more people to the city’s historic downtown area.

“Interviewing the mayor is a tremendous learning experience for VSU's journalism students,” said Geltner, professor of journalism. “We practice techniques in the classroom, but there's nothing like getting a chance to ask an actual public figure questions in a live news setting. Students regularly tell me that our trip to City Hall is one of the most memorable parts of the semester. We're grateful to Mayor Gayle for taking the time to talk to our students for all these years.”

During the press conference, Gayle also reflected on the significant progress the city has made during his mayorship, including constructing a new wastewater treatment plant, increasing economic development in the area, and gaining more prominence throughout the state. 

“I am so grateful that during my time as mayor, Ted Geltner and his students have been able to visit City Hall for a mock press conference,” said Gayle, a VSU alumnus. “This opportunity allows me to discuss important topics and projects going on in our community. I hope that the students always leave more encouraged to engage in their local government. We always want Valdosta State staff and students to be involved with city government because the university is such a huge part of our community.”

To conclude the press conference, Geltner presented Gayle with a Blazers baseball jersey printed with Gayle’s name and the number 66 — to represent the year Gayle graduated from what was then Valdosta State College — to thank the mayor for speaking to journalism students every semester during his two terms, giving hundreds of students a behind-the-scenes look at city government as well as real-world experience in their chosen field. 

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