Student journalists attend fall journalism convention, bring home new knowledge

Seven advanced journalism students spent one November weekend in Washington, D.C., enjoying the town and learning new skills.


Before the first keynote address, convention attendees were treated to a brief skit featuring the Founding Fathers that focused on the importance of First Amendment rights. Photo by Julia Torres.

Jose Herrera and Dianne Villalta

Student journalists from across the nation gathered together at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington D.C for the 2014 Journalism Education Association/National Scholastic Press Association fall convention from Nov. 6-9. Approximately 6,353 aspiring journalists came together to compete and garner knowledge for their student run publications.

Daniel Pearl Magnet High School journalism and yearbook students fundraised more than $4,000 to pay for airfare, hotel and other necessities to attend the fall convention for the first time.  Unfortunately, after two months of fundraising the new Superintendent Ramon Cortines almost stopped the trip because of a new policy preventing teachers from attending out of town conferences.

After receiving numerous emails and complaints from parents of the students attending, advisor Adriana Chavira and from Principal Deb Smith, Cortines gave them permission to go.

Once they arrived, the event kicked off with keynote speaker Bob Woodward, who along with Carl Bernstein, uncovered the Watergate Scandal that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon, who was involved in planting listening devices to spy on the Democratic Headquarters before the 1972 presidential election.

Woodward shared some wisdom and encouragement from his many years working as a journalist for The Washington Post. Among the advice he shared was to continue to be persistent and not give up when pursuing a story.

“Never, don’t tell me never,” Woodward said, quoting his publisher Katharine Graham.

It was these spoken words that resonated the most with media students. The strong belief of never giving up when getting sources and information. Woodward told students to be courageous and not only get the story, but go to the scene.

“The Mayflower Hotel is about two and a half blocks away,” Woodward said, quoting Graham after he came back with a story without ever going to the site. “So, why don’t you get off your (butt) and go check it out.”

Students and newspaper advisers were encouraged to participate in many workshops hosted by media advisers, fellow student journalists, bloggers, creative writers and professional journalists. The sessions covered various topics and categories including photojournalism, online newspaper, design, resolving issues within the staff, ways students can improve their journalistic skills and new tools, like drones, both students and advisers can use to get stories done.

The next day, students attended another keynote session hosted by ESPN co-host Jay Harris. Harris spoke about how he came to work at Sportscenter as the crowd met him with enthusiasm and excitement. Harris also spoke about how journalism is work that continues to evolve or as he called it, ‘the practice of journalism,’

“News, sports, it’s all the same, its journalism! It’s story telling,” Harris said, “ My advice to you from this day on is shine, just shine on, and have fun.”

Write-off contests included photography, yearbook layout, news editing, sports writing, feature writing and many more. Students were rewarded with the choice of evening activities including team trivia night and a trolley tour of the monuments at night.

As the convention came to a close, awards for winners of the write-offs and other honors were left to be given.

The Pearl Post received the Pacemaker finalist plaque. Out of the seven students who attended, the Prestige Yearbook Editor-in-Chief Ana Perez and the Pearl Post Online Editor-in-Chief Christopher Bower won honorable mentions in Yearbook Sports Photo and Editorial Writing, respectively The Pearl Post Editor-in-Chief Natalie Moore received a “Superior” award in News Writing after being congratulated personally by the JEA President Mark Newton.