Jessica Brown Billhymer receives STL Press Club award
By Linda Jarrett
Jessica Brown Billhymer, a member of Missouri Professional Communicators (MPC) and the St. Louis Press Club, recently was honored with the press club’s Catfish Award. This award goes to a press club member who has made exceptional contributions to the field of communications and its organization.
“The Press Club started in 1954 and they used to meet at Catfish and Crystal, so that’s how it got its name,” she said. Catfish and Crystal was a restaurant located in downtown St. Louis, Missouri.
Billhymer, founder and president of Gateway Media Literacy Partners, Inc., is an active and staunch promoter of sustained media literacy education. She would like to see St. Louis become the first Media Literacy City in the country.
As a full adjunct professor in the School of Communications at Webster University in St. Louis, Billhymer teaches media literacy classes.
“Once you teach young people these skills, they put them into action,” she said. “There is empowerment associated with teaching these critical skills.”
However, media literacy is something for people of all ages and backgrounds, she added. "Some people our age don’t think they need to learn these skills – they think they know it all and they stay in their silos.”
A member of MPC since the late 1990s, Billhymer said professional organizations can offer opportunities to young people that they may not find in school or on the job.
“I love MPC because of the networking quality with women,” she said. “I think younger people sometimes miss out on that now or don’t understand the value and joy of networking. I believe our organization offers support systems and encouragement,” she said.
Billhymer also is an officer for Digital International Media Literacy Education, Inc., and an active supporter of the Gateway Journalism Review.
Linda Jarrett is a member of MPC and freelance writer.