So you are going to the National High School Journalism Conference

5 things you can do to make the most of your trip

Tyson Bird at the National High School Journalism Convention in San Francisco.

Courtesy Photo

Tyson Bird at the National High School Journalism Convention in San Francisco.

By Tyson Bird

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So you are going to the National High School Journalism Conference. Here are five ways to make the most out of your trip.

 

DO YOUR HOMEWORK

Do not use laptops during conventions to work on class assignments. However, every conference attendee should look up 3-5 publications that they want to find during their time at the convention. Use former Best in Show lists, Pacemaker awards, or social media to find schools that inspire you.

Read their website and look for them during publication exchange. Knowing the name and 1-2 key stories from a publication is a great conversation starter and helps you …

 

NETWORK

“It’s not what you know, but who you know.” Use conventions as an opportunity to get to know students from around the country and build professional relationships. Exchange publications, Twitter handles, websites or phone numbers.

Make sure to continue the conversation outside of the convention, too. Continue reading publications that inspire you, and tell your colleagues that you appreciate their work.

Use conventions as an opportunity to get to know students from around the country and build professional relationships.”

— Tyson Bird

 

ATTEND SESSIONS OUTSIDE OF YOUR “INTEREST”

Journalists in today’s world are expected to have a broad set of skills; everything from inverted pyramid to basic HTML are standard knowledge for collegiate and professional journalists. Don’t be afraid to attend a session outside of your comfort zone and pick up a new skill, or learn how you could improve your work and benefit the whole staff.

I work as a designer but recently attended a session about sportswriting that focused on the “people aspect of sports”… I never would have thought about this had I not walked into a session outside of my interest. This led me to develop a sports poster series, which earned first place in the state of Indiana.

 

ASK QUESTIONS/TALK TO PROFESSIONALS

Read speaker bios and attend sessions from interesting professionals. Conventions draw diverse collections of presenters with countless perspectives. Speak up at the end of sessions when questions are called for.

If speaking in groups makes you nervous, approach the presenter one-on-one after the session. Most have a few minutes to talk … if not, ask for an email address. If you can’t think of what to ask, start with “my publication has been struggling with …” or “how did you decide to …”

 

CREATE

Some like to take notes … I think there is a greater value in creating actual projects. It’s not every day you are immersed in journalism ideas and presentations from dawn until dark.

Sketch design ideas in a notebook or on a laptop. Shoot photos of the convention using tips from professionals. Write a story or two about your experience. Develop some code.

Instead of referring to pages of notes down the road, you can look at your new creations and ask “am I still creating convention-caliber work?”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Tyson Bird is a freshman at Ball State University. Bird was the Editor-in-Chief of the Cedar Post (Sandpoint High School) from 2012-14 and was Idaho’s student journalist of the year in 2014. Be sure to follow Bird on Twitter (@TysonBird).

 

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