Six Collegio staff members had the opportunity to travel to Louisville, Kentucky, this past weekend for the annual ACP/CMA Conference. This conference draws collegiate student publications from all over the nation.
The conference began Thursday, Oct. 25, and ended Sunday, Oct. 28, and featured more than 200 different workshops with various speakers from the journalism industry. Included in these workshops were also keynote speakers each day and a photo shootout contest.
“It’s a national convention that brings students and advisors together to talk about their craft and talk about their field, and it’s a field that’s under attack right now in kind of our divisive political environment,” Josh Letner, PSU director of student publications, said. “But our founding fathers saw this as a profession that deserved protection within the constitution, and when they laid out the amendments of the constitution, they mention the press in the first one, so I think that speaks to the importance of this particular profession and the role that it plays in our democracy. So, I think it’s a good idea to bring students and faculty together to talk about some of the issues facing our profession, and it’s kind of an opportunity to experience solidarity with people with a similar passion or similar pursuit.”
Workshops ran from 9 a.m. each day to 4 p.m. with varying session topics suitable to different members of the journalism industry. Students who attended used this opportunity as a chance to learn how to improve their student newspaper and how to resolve issues they may come across in the newsroom.
“As a student, it was just nice to get to experience other people’s ways of doing things, in terms of the papers… getting to see other people’s ways of setting up their newspapers of like setting up their newspapers or learning that their paper is in a lawsuit or something like that,” Brock Willlard, senior in music education and Collegio copy editor, said. “Just getting to see how they deal with their challenges. As a person who works for the Collegio, I guess specifically as copy editor, it gave me a lot of strategies… like my favorite session I think was the one about newsroom angst…”
The conference also acted as an opportunity to network and reach out to potential job opportunities or graduate school within the journalism industry.
“Well, I think that the conference is valuable to students because it gets them in contact with their peers across the country and kind of helps them see their place in the larger scheme of college journalism and journalism at large,” Letner said. “Sometimes, we can seem kind of isolated on our own campus, but we are part of something larger and those conferences really help to drive that home as well as the benefit of networking for internships and professional opportunities in the future. And just the fun of traveling together as a group.”
For Shawn Bostwick, senior in sociology and Collegio reporter, as a nontraditional student she was excited to have the ability to attend this conference.
“I was so grateful, it was simply fantastic,” Bostwick said. “At my age, coming back to college … well I just missed out on lots of opportunities when I was younger and this was such a great opportunity, it really was…”
In Bostwick’s eyes, the conference meant more to her than simply expanding her knowledge about journalism but also growing as a person.
“Because I am coming at it so late in life and I had so many challenges to overcome when I was younger, I get intimidated really easy, especially by opportunity or even success maybe,” she said. “So I think it helped me overcome some of my intimidation; I got to be around a lot of people, hundreds of people in the business. I talked to strangers on the streets … It was just such an opportunity for me to overcome my fear and how I feel so intimidated and you know by I’m getting so close. It’s so exciting.”
As Collegio staff members study various majors aside from journalism, this was also a learning experience to see what the field looks like, as Willard noticed.
“The main thing I think I learned from the conference is that the real world of journalism is not the mainstream cable news… it’s more about the hard-hitting facts and reporting without opinion and things like that,” Willard said. “… So it was nice to have that concern with cable news validated that the academic side of journalism is what journalism actually is.”
Not only was the conference a learning experience for those involved, but also it allowed students to hear talks from and meet established journalists from all over the country.