2019 Year of The Student Journalist

On October 31, two staff members of the Billboard traveled to Washington D.C. to attend the ACP/CMA Conference. At the conference, myself and Staff Writer and Calendar Editor, Olivia Shirk, had the chance to gain more knowledge about the life of journalists currently in the field. With over 250 different sessions going on throughout the day, there was something for everyone. In between going to sessions, we walked around downtown D.C. getting great food and taking in the sights.

A few of the music and entertainment sessions I went to were called, “Writing About Music and Travel-and Getting Paid For It,” “Covering Pop Culture: From Hollywood Scandals to ‘The Bachelor’,” and “For Those About to Rock…Reporting on Concerts, Festivals, and Rockstars.” Each of these sessions offered something new. The presenters all had different perspectives on how to break into the industry and how to go about covering the stories. One idea that I took from the “Writing About Music and Travel,” session was to figure out what made my story different from other people. What made me original and unique?  The “Covering Pop Culture,” session gave me tips on how to rethink about a story that everyone is writing about. What is something others are not mentioning? “For Those About to Rock…” gave me ten tips on how to go about getting an interview and different scenarios that could possibly happen before or during an interview. I think what I took out if the most was Steven Listopad from Henderson State University saying, “Be bold. Have confidence. Get in there. Think outside the box.”

Olivia Shirk and Hannah Middaugh

The more professional sessions I sat in on included “Writing Profiles and Features: Getting the Right Anecdote”, “Making the Most of Your First Journalism Job,” “Landing a Job in Media Today,” and “Entering the Journalism Field Fast and Furious.” The “Writing Profiles and Features” was a workshop session. We had to interview someone around us and find out what was the moment that drove them to pursuing a career in journalism. We had to get vivid details about the exact moment and try writing an attention grabbing first line. Interviewing a fellow student journalist did not feel like an interview. It was felt like just another conversation. We were able to receive feedback on how to improve our anecdotes. This workshop gave me a great idea for the paper. “Making the Most of Your First Journalism Job” gave helpful tips on how to apply for internships and how to get an internship. They drove in to only apply to internships that pay and to know what you deserve. They also suggested to know our rights as journalists. Recommending getting more journalism experience from outside your college was from “Landing a Job in Media Today.” The panel at this session talked about knowing everything you can about the publication you want to work for and to have a positive journalistic outlook on things. They also said that you need to be willing to adapt in a journalism field since it is rapidly changing. The last session, “Entering the Journalism Field Fast and Furious,” was great to receive tips on how to go about getting internships and how to proceed after you get the internship. My favorite advice from Bianca Quilantan from Polictico from this session would be, “You’re a reporter, not an intern. Don’t tell anyone you’re an intern. You were hired to be a reporter and that’s what you are.”

While also in D.C. for the conference, all the students attending got free admission into the Newseum. The Newseum was filled with artifacts and hundreds of newspapers from all over the world. They had pieces of the Berlin Wall, the actual SUV that the Boston Marathon Bombers used, and two vehicles that journalists were killed in. They also had cameras, plane engine pieces, cell phones and a piece of one of the towers that fell in the 9/11 crash. The wall was covered in the headlines and front pages from that time in America’s history. Another part of the Newseum had a Journalist Memorial dedicated to the journalists who were killed on the job or missing. The history in this building is phenomenal. Unfortunately, the Newseum will be closing on December 31, 2019.

The ACP/CMA Conference is a great way to network with people in the field currently and other student journalists. Going sight-seeing in the city is also a perk of the trip. However, it is the knowledge and fresh ideas we get from these trips that make it all worth it.

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