Members of The Outlook editorial staff traveled to San Francisco, California to attend the Associated Collegiate Press (ACP) Spring National College Media Conference from Thursday, March 9 through Saturday, March 11.
With 118 colleges and over 750 students in attendance, the three day conference featured a schedule full of workshops, breakout sessions, and panel discussions.
“I wanted to go to the ACP conference because it was a chance to learn new skills and make connections with people in the industry,” said John Papagni, junior communication student and The Outlook’s Comic/Opinion editor. “I enjoyed coming together with like-minded individuals who also want to pursue a career in journalism.”
“I felt like it represented a great opportunity for me to grow as a person, experience new things, and learn what I really need to know about my future and my career,” agreed Jonathan Bailey, senior English student and Sports Editor of The Outlook. “I think it is important to learn how other people do things and take lessons from that, especially from people who you are either trying to be like, or people that you will be competing with for a job at that level. It was great to chat with other journalists, especially some of the award winners who were some of the hardest working and most inspiring people I have ever met.”
“The conference left me really inspired, ready to explore, and not be afraid to take risks with design,” said Shannon Smith, senior graphic design student and Features Editor of The Outlook.
ACP hosted three different keynote speakers for each day of the event. Thursday’s keynote was Rick Green, Executive Editor and Chief Content Officer of the Press Democrat. Green’s presentation focused on the future of journalism and why the United States needs journalists, explaining how democracy isn’t possible without journalism and emphasizing the importance of the First Amendment, which protects freedom of the press.
Despite the “changes” and “challenges” troubling the field, Green was adamant that journalists have the power to change the world and called upon the audience of student journalists to dictate the future of journalism.
The second keynote speaker was Odette Alcazaren-Keeley, diversity communications and media executive and director of the Maynard 200 Journalism Fellowship Program. Similar to Green’s presentation, Alcazaren-Keeley expressed concern about the future of journalism amid shrinking newsrooms and the growing presence of news deserts, noting the lack of appreciation for the important work that journalists do to serve local communities and maintain democracy.
The third and final keynote was a panel discussion about how to cover tragedy on college campuses. It featured a lineup of student editors from The State News, Michigan State University’s newspaper, as well as Kelly Furnas, the former adviser to The Collegiate Times at Virginia Tech during the 2007 shooting, and Ashley Mowreader, former editor at The Pepperdine Graphic at Pepperdine University and current Student Success reporter for Inside Higher Ed. Moderated by Elizabeth Smith, Director of Pepperdine Graphic Media, the panel discussed firsthand experiences covering tragic stories and how to do so in a way that minimizes harm through trauma-informed reporting that helps rebuild affected communities.
In addition to the three keynote speakers, the conference hosted a plethora of breakout sessions and workshops that students could attend based on their interests.
“I really enjoyed listening to Marcus Thompson, Dave Lombardi, and the rest of the speakers from The Athletic. I also felt that Joan Ryan and Ann Killion basically taught me how to do a proper interview and read the person that I’m interviewing,” said Bailey.
Smith said that Sara Quinn was her favorite speaker at the conference. “[She] was there with the Society for News Design and put on many great sessions about reframing the way you design, typography, and new tools for design. Overall, she was just so passionate about what she was discussing, often involved her audience, and made some really great points that I know I will take with me.”
“Every session included amazing speakers who provided useful advice about the world of journalism, but my favorite was meeting ESPN reporter Kendra Andrews, a woman of color who is making an impact through the sports world – which is a male dominated industry,” explained Morgan Alston, a senior communication student and Sports Writer for The Outlook.
Beyond the events at the conference, Smith noted that it was also a bonding experience for The Outlook team. “I really enjoyed getting closer with some of The Outlook editors. It was definitely a great trip to learn more about how we can make our publication better but in the same vein it was also a great bonding experience.”
Papagni, the only non-graduating editor to attend the conference, expressed his desire to attend again next year with the next generation of The Outlook: “This experience really opened my eyes to a new group of people who take journalism seriously and have a passion for it, and I would want the next editors to see that as well so that they can make connections, learn new skills, and apply it to both The Outlook and eventually to their professional careers.”