Author Archives: lesleyrandall1001

The Media and Homelessness

When thinking about homeless people, many think of someone begging, asking for money. However, most homeless people do not fit this stereotype, and Piedmont College senior Nathan Blackburn is hoping to break this stereotype. 

At the 2020 Piedmont Symposium, Blackburn presented the session, “Poverty Portrayals: An Examination of Media Portrayals Stereotyping Homeless Populations,” a project that was derived from his mass communications theory and research course. 

“This research became the starting point for my senior capstone, which I’ve recently completed, and it played a big role in the short film that I created as part of that capstone (Wander Boys),” said Blackburn. 

However, the inspiration behind the research extended past just a MCOM 3850 course. It came from his personal background. Blackburn experienced homelessness himself. Understanding what it is like to be homeless, Blackburn has a different perspective than most on the topic. Throughout his research, Blackburn found difficulty in setting aside his own personal biases regarding homelessness, where he had to keep an open mind throughout. 

“Nathan’s personal experience with homelessness added a more complex layer and gave him a unique perspective than if he had been an objective researcher,” said Professor Tingle. 

Blackburn found curiosity in understanding how the rest of society viewed the homeless and found that the media directly influences peoples’ viewpoint on those who suffer from homelessness. The media is able to shift situations accordingly in order to make others feel certain feelings like sadness or anger. This is known as “media framing,” where the media frames particular situations to make others feel a certain emotion. This is Blackburn’s pivotal argument in the case that the media does affect the way others view the homeless. As Blackburn anonymously interviewed individuals of various ages, his research proved that after these individuals watched the same clips on homelessness, all of the feelings towards homelessness were very similar. 

“After viewing Nathan’s presentation online, it really made me realize that the media really does have a major impact on how society sees homeless people,” said student Haily Tigue. “I can say that I have definitely been caught in the basic stereotype of homeless people in the United States, but I will now be more compassionate towards this topic.” 

Blackburn’s research portrays that the media is often biased when discussing homelessness. Blackburn explains that the media often displays homeless individuals as “beggars on the side of the street” or that these individuals must have done something wrong in their life to be in this situation. Though, Blackburn knows from personal experience that this is not always the case. 

For example, many homeless individuals are children who have lost parents, a recent immigrant trying to start a new life, or someone who unexpectedly lost a job. However, Blackburn explains that because of films and the news, homelessness is often viewed by others for something that it is not. 

One of Blackburn’s favorite interviews he conducted was one with a fellow student where Blackburn learned about a different perspective of homelessness. Through this interview 

Blackburn explained that this student’s first thought of the homeless was “always dirty and begging for money” 

“I’ve always noticed that the media tends to lean more towards one stereotype or one side of portraying homeless people,” he said. “It was interesting to learn more about that from the view of someone who had not experienced any kind of homelessness.” 

Nathan Blackburn Email: nblackburn0508@lions.piedmont.edu 

Tingle: mingle@piedmont.edu

Hailey Tigue Email: htigue1231@lions.piedmont.edu

Head of Piedmont Athletics, Matthew McKinney

DEMOREST, GA— Head athletic trainer, Matthew McKinney, finds his motivation through the student athletes, fellow athletic trainers and coaches who to strive to improve their careers at Piedmont College 

“Motivation is hard to come by from time to time, especially after 15 years on the job,” McKinney said. “I find my motivation in all of the student athletes and coaches wanting to be the best at what they do. It keeps me wanting to help those people achieve their goals.”

Native of Danbury, North Carolina, McKinney received degrees from High Point University and Marshall University. In the mean time, McKinney is working towards his doctorate at East Tennessee State University. In 2007, McKinney’s first job was at Piedmont College as an athletic training assistant. However in 2010 McKinney married and moved to LaGrange College. In 2013, McKinney was brought back to Piedmont where he accepted the head athletic training job.

“I always knew I wanted to be the head of a department and I have been able to fulfill that goal at Piedmont, McKinney said.” 

McKinney faced many struggles throughout his journey becoming a head athletic trainer. One of his biggest struggles becoming the head athletic trainer was that many doubted McKinney as he was very young to be running an entire athletic department. Having to overcome the doubts and pressures of directing the athletic department at Piedmont, McKinney has proved many wrong, where he is on his eighth, successful year of leading athletic training.

“The biggest struggle I encountered was getting people to believe in a young person to lead a department,” McKinney said. “Even after being certified for eight years, people felt as though I was too young to take charge and lead a group of people to take care of the medical needs for an entire athletic department.” 

The student athletes push McKinney to be the best he can be. Watching an athlete overcome any injury is inspiring to McKinney. He added that injuries not only take away the ability to play the sport, but it takes part of a person away from them. 

“One of the best things I can remember are the moments that athletes are able to go back to their sports,” said McKinney. “They are so grateful and it is great to see them succeed.”

“I am not sure that I will retire at Piedmont College,” said McKinney. “I still have quite a few career goals left to achieve. I really want to transition to athletic administration, with the ultimate goal of being a collegiate athletic director.” 

About Me, Lesley Randall

My name is Lesley Randall and I am from Buford, Georgia. I was born and raised in Buford where I have spent my entire life. I graduated from Mill Creek High School as an honor student and editor of the yearbook staff there. However, I do not want to stay in Georgia my whole life. I hope to travel to different places while I am young, though my dream has always been to live and work in New York City after college. I intend to major in Mass Communications and/or Psychology where I hope to become either a magazine editor or drug and alcohol counselor.

I have an older brother and an older sister. I am very close to my brother and look up to him in every aspect of life. He is 100% my biggest role model in life because he works hard for everything and has a positive outlook on the future despite hard times. He is intelligent about how he spends his time and money and I go to him for advice with almost everything.

I have a love for writing and photography which is why I chose to major in Mass Communications. In high school I became very interested in photography. I hope to learn more throughout my time in the Mass Communications department and further understand constant improving media. I also hope to further understand the brain and human behavior through the psychology department.

On the other hand, I am also a soccer player at Piedmont. I have played soccer throughout my entire life. I began playing soccer at the age of four and fell in love instantly. I grew up playing sports as I looked up to my older siblings playing sports. I played basketball for most of my life as I quit my senior year of high school to focus more own school and soccer. I also swam for about 10 years, but again quit in order to focus on school and soccer. I ran cross country and played lacrosse both for one season and hated both, therefore I quit.