Julia Gray

Sessions, sessions, sessions!!! Learning from experts, advisors, and, often, the students around me was an invaluable experience. It was incredible to learn alongside people from all over the country, allowing me to see student journalism from a multitude of perspectives.

I started off my session-filled trip with Student Press Law 101. Led by the fantastic folks at Student Press Law Center (SPLC), this session led me down a tunnel of passionate questioning and excitement, I felt like I couldn’t stop writing things down. This is one of the only sessions I chose significantly before the conference started, and, honestly, I didn’t know what to expect. My knowledge of student press law was limited, and I never had an opportunity to have an in-depth class on these issues. Sitting in this class, I couldn’t believe I didn’t learn more about it before. It was ALL the nerdy and geeky stuff I enjoyed!! Journalism, politics, law, what’s there not to love? 

Thinking of my past limited knowledge made me, of course, feel that I need to bring some of this home to my staff. Specifically, I think we could really benefit from a copyright agreement, a general overview of censorship, and a general overview of libel. 

The other truly pre-determined trip I went on was a trip to the zoo. Bringing my camera and challenging myself to adapt to the constantly changing environment was so fun and interesting! It is an experience that I don’t usually get photographing at school events, so it was nice to explore (see cute pictures).

The next day, I went to How to Pinpoint the Human Angle of Every Story. This session was pretty crowded and I had trouble hearing the speaker, but it was the first time I really bonded with someone from another school at the conference. Our conversation began when we talked about how we couldn’t hear the speaker or connect to the wifi, but it got deeper. Honestly, we made our own little conference. We talked about our publications, and the challenges we’ve faced. It was fantastic to be able to bond with someone just as nerdy about this stuff as I was. 

I attended How to Report on Mental Health and Suicide Safely. The speaker seemed so passionate about the subject, and I think it would be incredibly impactful to do some similar reporting at our school. 

Covering Breaking News Free of Breakdowns had me glued to my seat. It was such an interesting session, and getting an advisor’s perspective showed me a real insider’s look into the paper. I loved their communication system (they use slack), and I think their live-tweeting style of reporting was pretty interesting to learn about. 

BOLD JOURNALISM. What a session. Definitely learned from this trip… I love SPLC!!

One of my favorite sessions of the whole trip was Write it and Write it Tight. The speaker was SO engaging, and made so many great points, not just about writing. He spoke a lot about having writers and editors sit down and work together. I’d love to see that here. Other than that, he explained grammar rules in such an understandable way, and I’d love to teach some of the tricks to the staff. Especially his tricks on ledes! 

I went to another writing improvement session, 10 Ways to Improve Your Writing. I thought, like Write it and Write it Tight, it would be a session applicable to all forms of writing. Instead, it was really about yearbook-style writing. However, as newspaper editor-in-chief, I could still learn something from it.

I think that was my main takeaway from this trip. Trust me, I could go on and on about every single session I went to, and, trust me, I want to. But, there will never be enough that I can say. I learned so much, and there will always be so much that I can learn. When you are at a convention like this, you turn into a sponge, picking up every little piece of information that comes up, and finding relevant information in the most unlikely places.

Now that we are back home, I hope that we can continue to be sponges, and continue to be full of the passion we held on this trip, because I know I still am.