Viagem Segura! – “Safe Travels!”

July 27, 2016

Viagem Segura means “safe travels” in Portuguese – a sentiment I want to convey to some UNC School of Media and Journalism students who are “limbering up” for the 2016 Olympic Summer Games. On Thursday, a group of 30 student journalists depart for Rio, where they will spend the next three weeks working for the Olympic News Service (ONS)

One of two college groups reporting for the ONS, the students will clock 12 hour days while living in the media village and working alongside professional journalists from around the world. They’ll cover assigned beats and file stories at the Olympic Media Center for NC media like WRAL, The News & Observer, WUNC-FM, The Herald-Sun and North Carolina News Network. A number of student athletes in the group will even be covering THEIR sport at the games – Soccer, Track & Field, Lacrosse and Fencing.

And this is not the first time MJ School students have worked for the ONS  – Tar Heels also covered the Olympics in Beijing!

It’s the school’s premiere resources and rich history of excellence and opportunity that have prepared these students for this moment. As a proud alum myself, I can’t help but brag on this six-time Hearst Journalism Awards national championship-winning program that also helped mold me into a communications professional.

The students going to Rio represent the diverse disciplines the school offers: Writing, TV & Radio, Multimedia & Photography and PR. They also represent the numerous on-campus journalism opportunities the school and University support: The Daily Tar Heel, Carolina Connection, Reese News Labs, Carolina Week and Sports Xtra. Perhaps most importantly, they are representative of Carolina’s commitment to access and affordability. Funding from an anonymous donor is supplementing each student’s trip and Carolina Covenant is traveling participating Covenant scholars at no cost aside from incidentals.

The Office of Communications and Public Affairs is among the many organizations using these talented students to support our UNC Olympic coverage. We can’t wait to share their work with you on


MC VanGraafeiland
UNC-Chapel Hill Media Manager


Safety and Campus Security – Moving Ahead with “One Button”

July 11, 2016

In late June the University tested its emergency sirens and emergency communication notification procedures, which is called the Alert Carolina System (ACS). The well-publicized test, which was a success, verified that newly installed ACS equipment and software were working properly.

This is all part of the Initial Emergency Notification Automation project, called the One Button solution, which has streamlined the activation of the outdoor warning sirens and automatic distribution of mass text messages, emails and social media posts.

Now, with the simple press of a single button, the previous 15-plus minute process required to activate all systems and notifications has been reduced to less than two minutes. Follow-on communications, to provide additional updates, will still be crafted and sent depending on the specifics of the situation.

The system improvements, led by Information Technology Services (ITS), were well described by Matthew Mauzy, the overall project leader and IT manager at the ITS control center, in a recent Daily Tar Heel article.

In brief, the benefits of the One Button solution are:

  • One Button minimizes the opportunity for human error in the initial activation of the system.
  • The improvement ensures siren activations are immediately accompanied by explanatory text and email messages.
  • The creation of an infrastructure to support additional notification methods, including desktop alerts and beacons, which are under evaluation and consideration.

The One Button solution is part of the University’s ongoing commitment to campus safety and emergency readiness. Thanks to One Button, Carolina is more prepared should the Alert Carolina System need to be activated in the future.


Michael John
UNC-Chapel Hill Media Manager




Media Swarm to Zika Awareness Event at Student Union

July 1, 2016

It was all about mosquitoes at the Pit yesterday, when Chancellor Carol L. Folt hosted a Zika awareness event outside the Student Union.

Experts across campus fielded questions from several broadcast and print media, who came to inform their viewers and readers about the most up-to-date research and information about Zika.

If you are taking count – and we are! – reporters from WNCN, Time Warner Cable, The Herald Sun, AP Raleigh, Daily Tar Heel, The Gazette and WCHL covered the event.

And there was no shortage of people to talk to!

UNC Global, Environment, Health and Safety, UNC School of Medicine, Health Sciences Library and the Campus Health Travel Clinic talked to students, faculty and staff about issues that are at the forefront of people’s minds: pregnancy concerns, Zika prevalence around the world, what Carolina has done to prepare should there be a case on campus, and everything from how to apply mosquito repellent and make your home and yard safe to how to report standing water on campus.

Love it when our campus pools its experts and incredible resources to help serve the public!

Inside the Student Union, there was standing room only for presentations by public health experts, featuring Dr. Colleen Bridger from Orange County, Dr. Randall Williams from the Department of Health and Human Services and Dr. Aravinda de Silva from UNC School of Medicine. Chancellor Folt moderated questions from the audience, which turned out to be a huge success.

I never asked my science-related question (I’ll be sure to track down our speakers one way or another), but I will ask this: How were our speakers so engaging while packing all that practical information in five-minute presentations each? Incredible.

And if it weren’t enough to hand out free bug spray at the event, Chancellor Folt handed out free ice cream after the presentations. Not the most usual combination, but one that made for a great event.

We have lots more to share, so be sure to buzz back next week!

See you soon!

Thania Benios
Health & Sciences Editor