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UT Social Media Week 2020 – Meet the Speakers

Scott Barker

Scott Barker, Reporter, Editor, and Publisher at Compass

Hired as a reporter at the News Sentinel in 1999, Scott Barker has won numerous national, state and regional journalism awards as a reporter and editorial page editor over his 18-year stint at the paper. He was the lead reporter of the News Sentinel’s coverage of downtown Knoxville’s redevelopment, Black Wednesday and its aftermath, the Kingston coal ash spill and other seminal news events over the past two decades. Currently, Barker works as a reporter, editor, and publisher for Compass, a company that provides news, insights, and analysis of Knoxville and Knox County government, politics, and business.

Andy Bowers

Andy Bowers, 76ers Social Media Manager

Andrew Bowers graduated from the College of Communication & Information  with a major in Communication Studies in 2017. While at the university, he gained a multitude of experience within marketing, especially social media. In his senior year he interned with the Tennessee Athletics Media Relations department, where he gained most of his experience primarily working with the men’s basketball program, football program, and men’s tennis program that lead him to where he is today.

Upon graduation, Andrew went the agency route where he interned for the Morris Creative group and the Tombras Group. He then went on to work as a Digital & Social Content Associate with the Atlanta Hawks. After a year and a half in Atlanta, he took a position with the Philadelphia 76ers as the Social Media Manager.

Tonja Burk

Tonja Burk, Digital Director at WBIR in Knoxville

Tonja Burk is the Digital Director at WBIR in Knoxville, overseeing the station’s digital platforms, including the website, mobile apps, and social media. She also manages the WBIR internship program.

Tonja is an East Tennessee native, growing up in Oneida and attending the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where she graduated with a degree in broadcast journalism. She began her career at WBIR as an intern and started as a part-time editor the day after graduation. During her more than two decades at the station, Tonja has produced every single newscast and worked on several memorable specials and stories. She made the switch to digital a few years ago and enjoys the challenges of keeping up with the changing ways to connect with the audience.

Joel Christopher

Joel Christopher, Executive Editor at the Knoxville News Sentinel

Currently the executive editor at the Knoxville News Sentinel, Joel Christopher has been in the journalism industry for over 30 years. Christopher oversees the strategy and execution of news content, audience engagement and staff development across all platforms for and the Knoxville News Sentinel, part of the USA TODAY Network.

Chase Daniels

Chase Daniels, Assistant Executive Director of the Pasco Sheriff’s Office

Chase Daniels is the Assistant Executive Director of the Pasco Sheriff’s Office. Chase worked in Tallahassee for State Representative Jimmie Smith and State Senator Charlie Dean for seven years before moving to the Pasco Sheriff’s Office as the Policy Director in 2015 before moving to the role of Assistant Executive Director in 2016. In his current role, he oversees Community Relations, Communications, Social Media, Crime Prevention, and legislative and policy efforts at the local, state, and federal levels on behalf of Sheriff Chris Nocco.

Mark Harmon

Mark Harmon, Professor at the University of Tennessee

Dr. Mark D. Harmon teaches courses in news writing, news reporting, introduction to journalism and electronic media, communication theory, and public opinion. Dr. Harmon has worked as a TV news producer, radio reporter, and host of a radio news interview program. He also has published guest columns in scores of periodicals, ranging from daily newspapers to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Currently he is a weekly columnist for the Knoxville News Sentinel. Dr. Harmon is the author of four books, more than 30 research articles in refereed journals, and dozens of papers presented at academic conferences.Dr. Harmon has created a well regarded web sites on Media Ethics and Thinking Visually. He is a former congressional candidate and former Knox County Commissioner and has several projects in the works concerning political communication.

Brandon Hollingsworth

Brandon Hollingsworth, News Director WUOT

Brandon Hollingsworth is WUOT’s news director with a B.A. in communications. In that role, he oversees the station’s daily news operations and special projects. He also hosts Dialogue and produces the biweekly series HealthConnections. For nine years (2010-2019) he was WUOT’s local All Things Considered host. From 2008 to 2010, he hosted Morning Edition on Alabama Public Radio. For two years before that he served as an APR bureau correspondent and Morning Edition anchor at WLJS-FM in Jacksonville, Ala.

Brandon’s work has been heard nationally on the flagship NPR newsmagazines Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as the network’s newscast service. He has contributed to NPR’s midday newsmagazine, Here and Now, and his work has aired on West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Inside Appalachia.

Jessica Maddox

Jessica Maddox, assistant professor in the Department of Journalism and Creative Media at the University of Alabama

Jessica Maddox is an assistant professor in the Department of Journalism and Creative Media at the University of Alabama. Her research focuses on the intersection of visual social media, platforms, and popular culture. She is particularly interested in the histories of visual media technologies, and how they contribute to sociocultural norms and inequalities.

Sookie Park

Sookie Park, Sports/Esports Industry

Sookjo “Sookie” Park has been passionate about esports and traditional sports as a young child growing up in South Korea. She entered the traditional sports/esports industry through the Philadelphia 76ers and Dignitas, working with partners including Pepsi, Buffalo Wild Wings, and HyperX. At Complexity, Sookie manages all partnerships by maintaining and growing relationships with clients, and executing exciting activations for the team, fans, and partners such as GameStop, US Army, and Miller Lite.

Caitlin Riddell

Caitlin Riddell

Caitlin currently works as The Point Guy’s Social Media Lead, overseeing all paid and organic social media efforts, as well as encouraging community engagement across all platforms. The Points Guy (TPG) has been publishing hands-on advice to help readers maximize their travel experiences since the site debuted in June 2010. TPG is a lifestyle media brand with 7 million unique visitors a month and a social media audience of 3 million across Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Damian Ruck

Damian Ruck, post-doctoral research fellow in the University of Tennessee's Department of Anthropology

Damian Ruck is a post-doctoral research fellow in the University of Tennessee’s Department of Anthropology. He is a computational social scientist who uses data science to address policy-relevant questions in socioeconomic development, public health and online disinformation. His research has appeared in peer-reviewed journals such as Science Advances, Nature Human Behavior and Economics and Human Biology. He has also published general audience pieces for the Conversation and World Economic Forum.