Spring convention unites student journalists

Jessica Salguero

Students from around the nation gathered for the journalistic experience of a lifetime while enjoying the California sun at the 2016 Journalism Education Association/National Scholastic Press Association (JEA/NSPA) spring convention.

At Saturday’s awards ceremony, The Pearl Post’s website was presented with a plaque for being a finalist for an Online Pacemaker, the highest honor for a high school publication.

Students from Daniel Pearl Magnet High School’s newspaper, yearbook and broadcasting staffs attended the convention on April 14-17. The convention was held at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Journalism adviser Adriana Chavira chaired the local committee that organized the convention.

Upon arriving at the convention, students attended various workshops or media tours they had each signed up for ahead of time. Students were able to learn important tips and tricks to becoming a better and successful journalists in the competitive world.

Convention festivities began Thursday night with a keynote speech from journalist Jose Antonio Vargas. He discussed his story as an undocumented journalist and his previous documentaries that dealt with racial differences in America.

“I really liked the different things they had for different people like broadcasting,” said junior Ruby Rodriguez. “I’m from PNN, so I liked that they had a nice variety of workshops.”

The next day, some students attended Break With a Pro sessions where they had the opportunity to discuss news writing, feature writing, media law, etc. with professionals in that field. Various reporters from nation-wide publications spoke to student journalists about their experiences in the professional world.  

More sessions were available for students to participate in with topics ranging from InDesign hacks to a review of the basics of AP style. Friday was also a day of intense stress and competitiveness because most attendees participated in write-offs against students from all around the country.

Saturday brought along more speakers spreading their expertise to brilliant and aspiring journalists. Pacemaker award finalists and winners were announced at an awards ceremony.

Following the awards ceremony, some students went to a Dodger game where they lost 4-3 against the San Francisco Giants. Other students visited the Grammy Museum where they learned about the behind the scenes processes that take place while making an album.

The final award ceremony on Sunday recognized particular aspiring journalists with the Journalist of the Year Award. Students from the school were recognized for their achievement in the write-off competitions. Online Editor-in-Chief Rebekah Spector received an honorable mention in News Writing, Editor-in-Chief Ilana Gale was awarded honorable mention in News Editing/Headline Writing and Design Editor Rita Chidbachian received the rating of Excellent in Yearbook Copy/Caption: Student Life.

“I didn’t compete in a write off the first time I went to a convention,” said Chidbachian, who attended the convention in Denver in April 2014. “I didn’t get to go to the award ceremony but I was really shocked that I won something.”

The convention, although very educational, was also filled with fun spontaneous adventures and the chance to meet interesting new people with differing mindsets.

Next year’s JEA/NSPA Journalism Convention will take place in Seattle with lots of new faces and new opportunities.

“I really enjoyed this convention and I’m looking forward to going to different places around the U.S.,” sophomore Nallely Delara said. “It’s going to be a fun experience gathering new information, especially as a tourist.”