The 2021 version of South By Southwest (SXSW), the annual technology, film and music conference held in Austin, was unlike any other SXSW before it – and a team of students from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication was there to help SXSW cover everything that happened.

For the fourth year, nearly 20 SJMC students worked with SXSW’s marketing department to be the eyes and ears of the event. This year’s SXSW was totally online – so it was a bit different than content teams of the past. Members of the 2021 content team each covered specific keynotes and featured sessions, writing up recaps for the SXSW website and social media feeds. Some of the big names students got to virtually cover this year included Willie Nelson, Stacey Abrams, Matthew McConaughey and Tristan Harris, the main subject in Netflix documentary, “The Social Dilemma.” Badge access also allowed students to attend film debuts and virtual SXSW music showcases.

Here’s what a few members of the SJMC content team had to say about their 2021 SXSW experience:

I loved exploring and navigating through SXSW. I found every session so interesting, especially with the live discussion where I can see people’s opinions from all over the world.

-Briana Mulderrig

I loved some of the TED Talk-like panels as they gave insight to a lot of things that are behind the scenes in a sense. The Demi Lovato documentary was breathtaking, and I loved every second of it. If I had the opportunity to only watch one film that entire week, I would be content with that one. 

-Sam Searles

While I do miss being able to experience some of these people in person, like Stacey Abrams, it is so convenient to be able to go back and listen to the sessions I missed. I hope SXSW incorporates some of these online aspects for years to come. 

-Shannon Davies

I was able to hear some of my favorite celebrities speak, including Bill Hader and Kristen Bell. I watched “The Fallout,” which absolutely wrecked me. It was amazing. I learned a lot about both social media/news and various interests.

-Lynsey Lamoureux

This was my first SXSW, and the virtual experience was neat to see. Loved the layout and how accessible everything was. I gravitated to the film festival side and found some really great stories within the premiered documentaries and movies!

-Sabrina Macias

All the stuff about COVID data and coding was interesting/entertaining. By the end of the day, my brain was tired because there is so much information. 

-Damian Davis

SXSW organizers are optimistic and hopeful that next year’s event will either be back to normal or “near normal” when it’s held March 11-20, 2022. We’re hopeful the SJMC content team will be back again to help cover it.