COMTalks: A virtual speaker series

Looking to hear from industry professionals across different fields of communication? Check out COMTalks, the College of Communication’s virtual speaker series.

COMTalks was founded at the beginning of the pandemic as the brainchild of Dean DiChristina and the College of Communication’s Alumni Relations Office. To help strengthen connections in a fully-remote world, COMTalks was launched to continue COM’s long tradition of live speaker events. COMTalks serve as a way to build connections between students, faculty, and COM alumni. For students, this can be a great opportunity to hear from and engage with alumni and COM faculty, and learn what life is like working within the field of communications. 

COMTalks are formatted as a panel discussion, unlike a formal presentation with slides and speeches. Each event features a moderator who guides the conversation by asking questions to the panelists. The last 15 minutes of each event are turned over to the audience, where the moderator picks questions from the Zoom chat. COMTalks are designed to be engaging and interactive, and are tailored to the interests of students in the College of Communication. These events cover a diverse range of communication-focused topics, spanning from advertising to film & television, to the intersection of technology and communication, to minority representation in media.

Past events include “Covering COVID,” where three panelists discussed the resurgence of COVID-19 cases despite vaccines, how the media has covered COVID, and what the future of covering health crises could look like. Panelists included Paige Smith (COM ‘18) from Bloomberg, and Lara Salahi (COM ’07), the executive producer of the Track the Vax podcast on MedPage Today.

COMTalks also hosted “The Power of Netflix: From a Nonscripted Perspective,” where industry professionals discussed how Netflix grew from a DVD rental company to the largest streaming service in the world, as well as how Netflix plans to keep up with competing streaming services as the market shifts from cable to streaming. This panel featured BU alum Ben Levine (Pardee ‘12),  a television agent at the Creative Arts Agency, and Olivia LaRoche (COM ‘19), the manager of nonfiction originals on Netflix. The discussion also featured panelists with BU connections, including Jenn Levy, the vice president of nonfiction on Netflix, and Antoni Porowski of Netflix’s “Queer Eye.”

Upcoming events include “The Broken Bridge, Restoring The Connection Between Science and The Public” on December 8. Panelists will discuss why science seems to be getting lost in translation to large groups of people in regards to topics like climate change and the pandemic, how scientists can better communicate their findings, and what responsibilities media consumers should take to digest accurate information.
COMTalks panels are open to everybody, including individuals not affiliated with Boston University. If you can’t make it to one of the COMTalks panels or would like to watch one that has already passed, recordings of each event are posted here. Flyers for COMTalks events are also displayed on the screen in the lobby of the College of Communication and are listed on the Events tab on the COM website. Keep an eye out for emails from comalum@bu.edu for future events!

Sara Segal, Staff Writer

Sara Segal is a senior in the College of Communication studying film & television with a minor in advertising. This is her second semester writing for The COMmunicator. Originally from Boca Raton, FL, Sara enjoys exploring the city of Boston. When Sara’s not writing, she’s producing Pop Showdown on BUTV10, working as the social media manager at the Student Activities Office, and mentoring first-year students at BU.

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