The Elm Takes Dallas for Collegiate Press Conference

Molly Igoe, News Editor

At my second ACP conference, and during my last semester as a news editor, I went in not thinking I would be able to capitalize on many of the suggestions I would hear, with only four issues left to put out. After, I realized that the skills I’ve learned this weekend and at The Elm can and should be utilized in most situations.

One of my favorite workshops was about increasing diversity among your sources. The speaker, Eva Coleman, a high school media technology teacher, made us find someone in the room who looked nothing like us, and we had to figure out something we had in common and something that was starkly different.

By doing this exercise, she wanted us to remember that everyone has different experiences, and even by talking to someone for two minutes, you can find out so much about them.

At a school like Washington College, which is not very diverse, it can be easy to only focus on voices that are similar to yours, and to overlook other people’s experiences. As a rule, Coleman said that she makes her students talk to at least one non-white person for every story they write, whether it be a generic feature story or a news story.

Another memorable workshop was about covering sexual assault, and how to prevent wandering into advocacy instead of journalism. Two student journalists from Southeast Missouri State University’s student newspaper, The Arrow, shared their experience with covering sexual assault on their campus.

They published an exposé specifying the sexual assualt cases of four female students, and how the school responded. Listening to this, it was easy to relate to their feelings of frustration at being stonewalled by the administration.

Having covered instances of sexual assault and harassment on our own campus, I also identified with their dilemma between advocating for these girls, and staying neutral and just reporting facts.

Overall, my second and last ACP conference affirmed why I have been writing for The Elm since my first week of school — because student journalists are the best, according to an ACP pin.

 

Brooke Schultz, Editor-in-Chief

I’m going to start with a few statistics, which I learned from one of the sessions I attended during my second year at ACP: in the communications field, women account for 37 percent of newspaper newsrooms, 41 percent of television newsrooms, 31 percent in radio newsrooms, 63 percent of public relation specialists, 50 percent of advertising agency jobs, 9 percent of the directors of top grossing films, and 12 percent of video game developers. These numbers narrow when you look at the leadership positions.

Yet, despite these low numbers, women have accounted for two-thirds of communication studies students since the 1980s.

Take a look at our masthead, to my left, and you’ll see a lot of women in editor positions (sorry, Dan). And, in the time since I’ve been at student at WC, every editor-in-chief has been a woman. When you look at the larger field of journalism, though, as of 2014 there are only three editors in the top 25 papers in the U.S. that are women.

And, unfortunately, this number shrinks when you consider women of color. This is, unfortunately, reflected in The Elm, even.

The good news is ACP is there before we get out into that “real world.” For an editorial staff composed of mostly women, this conference provided us a valuable opportunity to learn about the field through hour-long workshops, to talk with other collegiate journalists, and to hear from keynote speakers who have written the stories defining moments in history.

And, it has shown us what we can be capable of as even students (and journalists). I put the latter in parenthesis because, while we are journalists, if this is something any of these editors decide they don’t wish to pursue upon graduation, they still learned lessons that are applicable and transferable to any career to carry with them. They can rise to the top, even if the percentages seem to suggest there is no room. There is room; we will make it.

Before we get there, though, there’s so much we can take back here, to our little 12-page tabloid-sized Elm. How to better our product, how to write with more empathy and with more scrutiny, and, hopefully, how to be a better voice for each member of our student body, and how to be more reflective of the diversity WC offers.

 

Abby Wargo, Student Life Editor

ACP was really eye opening for a lot of reasons. The critique was the most obviously beneficial; we got to directly see how our paper could improve. A lot of the workshops were informative and helpful, but they did not always cater to our exact needs as a paper. The critique gave us insight into what is working and what is not in our layout, which shaped the rest of the workshops we attended; there are things that we can focus on more than others.

It helped reinforce that student newspapers are still valid and influential, since the dedication and passion of both the attendees and the speakers was palpable. I got to see (and take) dozens of other collegiate papers from across the U.S., and while there is a lot, good and bad, to learn from them, the most important thing I took away was that this is here, students are passionate about this, and journalism is important here and now.

Lastly, I got to bond with my fellow staff members. For some of us, we never really saw each other due to the differing demands of our jobs, so it was really great to be able to hang out with everyone and grow closer as a staff and as friends. I had a great time, and I hope that our paper will be better for the time we spent in Dallas.

 

Tori Zieminzki, Photo Editor

It was amazing to meet and listen to professional photojournalists and how they progressed from college newspapers to photographing for big-name news companies. I particularly enjoyed the session on flash photography. Flash photography is not something I dabble in, so learning the basics of the craft was really interesting.

 

Savannah Masterson, Social Media Editor

ACP was an incredible experience where I was able to meet other writers and editors who have been in the same position I’m in. The workshops were personable and fun to learn from. Listening to Hugh Aynesworth’s experience of being the first reporter to capture the Kennedy assassination and hearing that first hand account was a once in a lifetime experience.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.