Communication Connection

Friends of Com Newsletter

Faculty Profiles

Former Seahawk Now Teaching Seahawks

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

By Tayler Robinson

David Pernell

Working side by side with some of his former professors, David Pernell never thought he would be back teaching at the school where he received his undergraduate degree, going from being a Seahawk to teaching them.

UNCW made a phenomenal decision when they decided to hire this former musician, music collector, vinyl buff and grunge rock lover. Not only did Mr. Pernell graduate from UNCW, but he also grew up right down the road in Kure Beach, North Carolina. You know that green motel near J Ave., The Moran? Yep, his parents own that. That’s the motel where multiple movies have been filmed. Pretty neat, huh?

Mr. Pernell received his Masters of Science degree from Middle Tennessee State University in 2005. Between graduate school and starting his job here at UNCW, he worked at the local news station, WECT, and then started teaching part time at UNCW in August 2013. That entire year he was working as a part time lecturer teaching one course, Media Law and Ethics. In the spring of 2014, he became a full time lecturer, starting in the fall of that year.

Media Law and Ethics looks at the major legal media law issues, such as: free expression, rights to privacy, rights of reporters, and anonymous sources. Pernell said people take this class for a number of reasons: it’s a required course for journalism minors, it was open, word of mouth or it just sounded interesting. However, he explained the content of the class goes beyond requirements or convenience. “These laws apply to everyone,” he said. “It’s our job to see if something is ethical or not. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.” This class involves writing three case study analysis papers, exploring questions like: “Can we do this?” “Should we do this?” “How is it going to affect this person and their family?” “How is it going to affect our business?” It makes students look at different people’s points of view and forces them out of self-interest. “We work in media, so what we do affects thousands and millions of people.” Pernell continued “We have to think about these consequences.”

Pernell also teaches Studio/Video Production I (COM 382) and II (COM 482), the class that got him his job here at UNCW. Mr. Pernell spent 12 years working in television news between WECT and News 14 Carolina in Raleigh. Currently, he teaches COM 382, in the fall and spring and COM 482, in the spring. COM 382 starts slowly and introduces students to television creation, the different roles of the television crew, and even the different types of equipment. One of the projects that they focus on is news updates. “By doing a basic news broadcast, you utilize everything you need to do any other kind of production,” he explained.

In COM 482, they create their own TV series, “UNCW Spotlight Presents.” Each week they present something different. This semester the first episode focused on the Department of Communication Studies, while others spotlighted the track team and its accomplishments and housing and residence life. “I tell the students this. ‘I want you to create something that when you’re finished, you’re proud to put your name on.’ If it’s something that’s created by the students, I’m all for it,” Pernell said. “It’s showing the administration, ‘Hey, this is what we’re doing.’ This is applied learning.”

While Mr. Pernell also teaches Broadcast Journalism, an elective for journalism minors that covers fundamental differences between writing for print versus writing for television and radio. He is currently in the process of creating a Broadcast Journalism 2 class for the fall which will be more hands on.

When asked what general advice he had for students, he said: “You’re here, enjoy it, and take advantage of it. Make the most of it. Don’t slack off. This is an opportunity for you.” When I asked Mr. Pernell what it was like to work with his former professors, he used the word “surreal.” UNCW is lucky to have such a passionate, driven and caring professor. If you have the opportunity, definitely take his class!