Communications & COVID-19: A Virtual Event Series

event poster

As the world continues to navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic, accurate and timely communication on complex issues takes on a new meaning. Communication professionals, government leaders, community advocates and industry heads are adapting to this new landscape to continue informing their audiences through both traditional and unorthodox means. The Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs at LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication will host a series of virtual events exploring these adaptations. The series, Communications & COVID-19: A Virtual Event Series, will bring together community members, communications professionals and industry experts to discuss the challenges facing professionals and policymakers during these strange and uncertain times.


April 21 | Advanced Care Planning and COVID-19 | 3:00 p.m. CST

Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, many of us are having conversations about navigating the healthcare system in a challenging time as well as our own mortality and that of our loved ones. These are often overwhelming topics to examine. Join a conversation with the 2019 Reilly Center Public Policy Fellow and CEO of Votive Health, Torrie Fields, MPH and Medical Director of the Palliative Care Program at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, Dr. Mark Kantrow to learn about the manageable tasks that everyone can do to alleviate some of the stress in making difficult healthcare decisions.

Additional Resources: 



April 29 | Crisis Communication in the Era of COVID-19 | 3:30 p.m. CST

The need for timely, transparent and trustworthy communication has been heightened in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak. From government to tourism, every industry has been dramatically impacted by the global pandemic. Co-authors of Public Relations and Journalism in Times of Crisis: A Symbiotic Partnership, LSU Manship School Professor, Dr. Jinx Broussard and University of North Texas Mayborn School of Journalism Dean, Dr. Andrea Miller will lead a discussion with communicators in government, tourism and healthcare to discuss how they are navigating crisis communication.

Panelists will include: 

  • Dr. Jinx Broussard, Professor, LSU Manship School of Mass Communication, Moderator

  • Dr. Andrea Miller, Dean, Dean, Mayborn School of Journalism, University of North Texas, Moderator

  • Giselle Hecker, Director of Public Relations, Ochsner Health System

  • Stafford Maestri, Manager, Executive and Physician Communications, Ochsner Health System

  • Laura A. Mellem, Public Engagement Manger, New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness

  • Erin Rosetti, Director of Communications and Engagement, Coastal Mississippi

Additional Resources: 


May 13 | An Unequal Relationship: Race and COVID-19 | 3:30 p.m. CST

In partnership with the Louisiana Budget Project, the Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs is pleased to present the third installment in the Communications & COVID-19 virtual series. Racial disparities accompanying the COVID-19 outbreak recently became headlines as states reported the disproportionate infection, hospitalization, and death rates of African Americans. In Louisiana, 70 percent of deaths were African Americans, despite making up only a third of the state’s population. Davante Lewis, Director of Public Affairs and Outreach for the Louisiana Budget Project will lead a conversation with public policy experts and advocates on the centrality of structural racism resulting in this alarming reality.

Panelists will include:

  • Davante Lewis, Director of Public Affairs and Outreach, Louisiana Budget Project, Moderator

  • Jarvis DeBerry, Editor, States Newsroom, Louisiana

  • Krystle Pew, M.D., MPH, LSU Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Fellow

  • Denese Shervington M.D., MPH, Humanistic Integrative Psychiatry, CEO / President, Institute of Women and Ethnic Studies, UNO Research and Technology Foundation, Inc

  • Jenny Sullivan, Director of Housing and Health Integration, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

  • Jhacova Williams, Ph.D., Economist for Economic Policy Institute's Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy (PREE)

Additional Resources:


May 19 | Historical Parallels in Government Information Dissemination: Learning from the Past | 1:00 p.m. CST

Governments have a responsibility to educate the public without causing cynicism and chaos. From President Woodrow Wilson’s creation of the Committee on Public Information to current global leaders hosting daily press briefings about the coronavirus, this panel will explore the history of government propaganda to understand how governments are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Join Manship School Professor Jack Hamilton and University of British Columbia Assistant Professor Heidi Tworek in a conversation moderated by Manship School Switzer Endowed Chair in Media Literacy, Len Apcar, to learn about the parallels in historical responses to pandemics and how we can identify best practices for future global crises.

Additional Resources: 


May 28 | Effects of COVID-19 on the Sports Industry | 3:30 p.m. CST

With global social distancing and stay-at-home restrictions effectively canceling sports for the foreseeable future, athletes, journalists and PR professionals in the sports industry have had to get creative to keep fans and supporters engaged. Even as sports broadcasters and teams have shifted messaging and begun to adjust to the void of content, uncertainty remains about what sports will look like when they do return, and the impact it will have on sports that aren’t top-tier revenue producers. Join Manship School adjunct instructor and FOX 44 Evening News Anchor Chad Sabadie, as he leads a conversation with athletes, coaches, journalists and PR professionals about the effects of COVID-19 on the sports world.

Panelists include:

  • Chad Sabadie - LSU Manship School Adjunct Instructor, FOX 44 Evening News Anchor, Moderator
  • Aaron Bates - Coordinating Media Operator, ESPN
  • Allysha Chapman - Olympic Bronze Medalist; Professional Soccer Player, Canada Women’s National Team, Houston Dash
  • Paul Mainieri - Head Baseball Coach, Louisiana State University
  • Katherine Terrell - Saints Reporter, The Athletic

Additional Resources: 


June 4 | Understanding Public Reactions to COVID-19 | 3:30 p.m. CST

As Louisiana residents continue adjusting to the “new normal” created by the spread of the novel coronavirus, the LSU Public Policy Research Lab has fielded a survey to investigate public opinion on the global pandemic. The survey covers perceptions of risk, emotional response, health and economic impact, and behavioral response aimed at mitigating the spread of the infection. Join Dr. Martin Johnson, Kevin P. Reilly Sr. Chair in Political Communication and Dean of the Manship School of Mass Communication as he leads a conversation with Dr. Mike Henderson, LSU Public Policy Research Lab Director and Dr. Ashley Kirzinger, Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation Associate Director of Public Opinion and Survey Research for a discussion about surveys, public health and COVID-19.

Additional Resources: 


June 18 | Voting in a Pandemic: COVID-19 & the 2020 Election | 3:30 p.m. CST

Voter suppression in the United States continues to limit the access of marginalized communities to the democratic process, and has increased since the 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision rescinding a key element of the 1965 Voting Rights Act requiring advanced federal approval for election law changes. The COVID-19 pandemic adds another potentially limiting factor when in-person voting could be a life-threatening act. Within this environment, how can voter access be protected and broadened? Join the LSU Reilly Center as we explore historical implications for the potential impact of COVID-19 on upcoming elections, including the 2020 presidential election.

Panelists include: 

  • Bradley Williams, Social Media Manager, National Democratic Redistricting Committee, Moderator
  • Susan Greenhalgh, Senior Advisor on Election Security, Free Speech for People
  • Bob Mann, Professor and Manship Chair in Journalism, Manship School of Mass Communication, Louisiana State University
  • David Stamps, Assistant Professor in Public Relations, Manship School of Mass Communication, Louisiana State University
  • Chris Tyson, President and CEO, Build Baton Rouge and Newman Trowbridge Distinguished Professor of Law, Louisiana State University

Additional Resources: 


July 1 | Legislating in the Time of COVID-19 | 3:00 p.m. CST

After suspending indefinitely on March 31, the Louisiana legislature reconvened on May 4 to complete the work begun before the COVID-19 pandemic halted life in the state. As members faced the challenges that come with legislating during a public health crisis, how did they prioritize work? In partnership with the LSU President’s Office, the Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs will host a discussion recapping legislators and the state administration’s approach to the compressed regular and special session, including budget decisions, CARES Act funding and education-related bills. The panel will feature representatives from both the Louisiana House and Senate, as well as public officials from Louisiana’s state administration and economic experts to discuss the realities of legislating in a pandemic.

Panelists will include: 

  • Sarah Procopio - Rising Senior, LSU Manship School of Mass Communication, Moderator
  • Representative Larry Bagley - Louisiana House of Representatives
  • Commissioner Jay Dardenne - Louisiana Division of Administration
  • Dr. Manfred Dix - Division of Administration, Chief Economist for the State of Louisiana
  • Senator Cleo Fields - Louisiana Senate
  • Speaker Pro-Temp Tanner Magee - Louisiana House of Representatives
  • Secretary Kimberly Robinson – Louisiana Department of Revenue, Secretary of Revenue
  • Senator Mack “Bodi” White - Louisiana Senate
  • Representative Jerome Zeringue - Louisiana House of Representatives