By Greg Allen
Never before had I looked at a coffee menu and seen “Philharmonic” or “Ether” or “Aromatic Arabic.” Never before had I seen ingredients such as smoke, earth, cashew, floral, or crisp be put into coffee. Never before had I been so confused in a coffee shop. There were large pieces of bread toasted and then topped with avocados and cucumbers. It was a completely new world from what I was used to. There was so much to learn, so much to experience.
My time in Philz Coffee shop acted as a microcosm to my entire time in San Francisco last weekend. On March 2, my Co Editor-in-Chief Shawn McFarland and I loaded up the car and headed to Bradley Airport. Next thing I knew, I was in San Francisco.
We traveled to the city for the annual Associated Collegiate Press Journalism Convention, a four-day conference that students from college media outlets travel to from all over the nation. At the conference, there were a number of sessions that we could attend to enhance our knowledge about journalism in today’s world.
Shawn and I attended sessions where we learned about entertainment sections in newspapers, how to better design our front pages, how to work with writers as editors, and more. Each and every session we attended was phenomenal, and there was something to learn from each one.
In some cases we learned directly from the presenter. For example, the presenter of the front page session told us, “You don’t have stories. You have blank pages.” Hearing this really expanded my view of how to be creative with design and layout.
In other cases, we learned from other students from other colleges. The students we met were so smart, and coming from all over the country, everyone had a different perspective on how to properly run a newspaper. That was the beauty of the entire experience. I learned that there isn’t one correct way to do things. In this field, there are no boundaries. It’s all about trial and error and experimenting with different techniques.
It’s kind of like Philz Coffee Shop. Maybe the Philharmonic isn’t for you. But that’s OK because there’s something on the menu that is for you whether it be the Mint Mojito or the Tantalizing Turkish.
There were also a number of keynote speakers at the convention. All three are professional journalists currently working in the field. It was very cool to see so many so positive about the field of journalism and the direction that it is heading. Hearing from working, professional journalists really capped off the experience.
Finally, Shawn, Marty Dobrow (our faculty adviser), and I had the opportunity to present a session of our own. The Springfield Student has covered a number of difficult, and at times controversial topics this year. We brought our experience covering such topics out to California and shared them with other students. Speaking in front of other students was awesome because I could tell that they were interested and engaged in what we were presenting. However, what was even more satisfying was hearing that we were not alone. Students who attended our session shared some of the controversial topics that they have covered, and it was really captivating to see how similarly or differently people went about covering similar topics.
The entire conference was just phenomenal. We learned so much, and took something away from every single session and keynote speaker. It was a trip to remember, and I am looking forward to attending more conferences like this to expand my knowledge on mass media in today’s society.