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Sleepless in Seattle: The Student Attends the ACP National Journalism Conference

Joe Brown/The Student

Justin Felisko

Editor-in-Chief

The #acpsea twitter feed was running rampant this past weekend at the 28th Annual Associated Collegiate Press National Journalism Convention in Seattle, Wash. at the Seattle Renaissance Hotel.

Six hundred-plus collegiate journalists from over 100 colleges made the trek to the home of the Space Needle, Safeco Field and the Pike Place Market fish toss to partake in a four-day journalism conference highlighted by keynote speakers and educational workshops on a variety of topics ranging from social media to how to be an editor without killing your writers.

The ACP National Journalism Convention offers colleges and universities from all across the United States an opportunity to learn about the latest trends in journalism, network with other college journalists and share stories of triumph and failure at the collegiate level.

For the last several years The Student has become accustomed to soaking in all the knowledge that the Associated Collegiate Press has to offer, and this year was no different. However, the difference this year was the conference’s focus on a specific topic being taught to the sponge of journalists in attendance.

Social media was the leading topic for nearly every speaker, and every workshop touched on the topic of Twitter, Facebook and the other latest social media trends hitting the market.

Journalists are being taught that the field is evolving faster than we can keep up with it. Therefore, it is important for young journalists to continue to embrace the challenges of social media and the ever-changing landscape that is journalism.

Yet, as morning news host Linda Thomas of KIRO radio 93.7 said, this is the most exciting time to be a journalist despite the series of layoffs and lack of jobs. Social media offers journalists a chance to market themselves and to create a personal brand to become more attractive to future employers.

However, even more important than having a personal brand is being passionate about what you are covering or reporting on according to renowned sports columnist Jerry Brewer of The Seattle Times. 

“I’m not living my dream,” Brewer said. “I’m living my passion.”

A reader should be able to read emotion in words, feel energy and excitement at the sight of a multimedia piece of work and have the hairs on their spines be raised by a bone-chilling audio interview. Journalists are still storytellers first and foremost, it’s just the way that stories are being told that is evolving.

“We illuminate the world with our curiosity,” Brewer said.

The theme of curiosity was an important one for News editor Joe Brown, Sports Editor Terrence Payne and myself as we went into the conference looking for ways to improve The Student and SCstudentmedia.com.

The Student received high-praise for our news product, which was given a great review from Holly Heyser of California State University.

The three of us were able to learn some new multimedia elements for SCstudentmedia.com, which we are still trying to improve in it’s first year of existence.

The site was based off the knowledge I gained from the past two ACP conferences that I have attended in Phoenix and Los Angeles. I am confident Scstudentmedia.com will continue to grow into the future because of the knowledge Joe and Terrence gained this weekend.

It also is always humbling to see the way other college’s newspapers are run and the size of their staffs. Some colleges pay their editorial staff, such as York University in Canada, which pays editors up to $5,000-plus per semester. Other college newspapers have staffs of over 50 people compared to The Student’s 15 person staff. It really comes to show the dedication of the writers and editors who contribute to this publication.

During our free time, we got to experience the best Seattle had to offer. Starbucks was everywhere you looked. The famous coffee chain was first started in Seattle and the ACP conference offered free Starbucks to power its journalists throughout the day.

The Space Needle is taller than it looks, Safeco Field is clearly better than Fenway Park and the fish toss sure did smell fishy.

Yet in all seriousness it has been an honor and highly-educational experience attending the National Journalism Conference the past three years, and every time I return there is a new journalistic fire under my belt.

Justin Felisko may be reached at jfelisko@springfieldcollege.edu

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