Immersing myself in student journalism for three days at NHSJC

Seventeen students from The Pearl Post and Pearl Net News, including myself, attended the National High School Journalism Convention in Anaheim from April 25-27. This biannual convention is sponsored by the Journalism Education Association (JEA) and the National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA).

As this was my first time attending a convention of any sort, I was a bit skeptical. I had no clue what to expect or how hectic it would be. However, I looked at it as an opportunity to learn more about journalism as this was my first year on staff at The Pearl Post.

On the first day, I attended a Writer’s Workshop led by Dan Austin, a teacher at Casa Roble High School in Orangevale, California. In this session, I learned how to write more descriptively. We also did an ice breaker where he had one side of the room take off their shoe and the other half go to pick one up. Once someone picked your shoe, you had to talk to them for 10 minutes and write a three-paragraph story about them.

Later that evening during the open ceremony, I listened to keynote speaker Sonia Nazario, author of “Enrique’s Journey,” discuss her career in journalism and her experience reporting on hunger issues, drug addiction and immigration in Central America and Los Angeles. Her speech was very inspiring and showed what great lengths you need to take in order to write a story.

On Friday, I went to a Break With A Pro session where I met Eric Sondheimer, a high school sports writer who has worked with the Los Angeles Times for 40 years. The most important thing he taught me was to not limit myself to being only a writer but rather branch out to different types of journalism like video or social media.

After all my workshops that day, I went to the exhibition hall to talk with representatives from different colleges with great journalism programs. Visiting all of these schools’ booths helped me realize the opportunities I have if I choose to further my education in sports journalism.

The next day, I attended a variety of workshops focused on sports writing and InDesign. The first workshop was presented by writer J.P. Hoornstra from The Orange Register where he presented how to use keywords, social media and tips to make a story trend. He emphasized the importance of being early to an event in order to be able to get information other journalists can’t. After that workshop, I went to an extended session on InDesign led by David Graves and Hal Schmidt where we were shown the basics of InDesign and given tips to enhance newspaper pages.  

Overall, I was glad I attended this convention. It gave me insight on how to transition into journalism after high school and how to make my stories different from other people’s.