Post Philly Feelings

By Caroline Fernandez

A week has come and gone since we arrived back at Elon from five days in Philadelphia for the ACP/CMA college media convention. Going into the convention I honestly had no idea what to expect, other than the sessions and their descriptions listed on the website.

What came from those sessions were valuable tools that I have been able to apply this past week at The Pendulum. I have been able to incorporate what I learned from sessions on narrative writing and how to manage a team in my day to day work with the features section.

Not only did I come away with tips and ideas for the future, I was also inspired by the other student journalists I met throughout the conference. It was refreshing to be around students who understand college media and what goes into publishing quality content every week.

You were good to us, Philly. You gave us a platform to discuss our ideas with other student journalists, as well as learn about ways to make our student media better.

Equally important, though, Philadelphia allowed for the five of us representing The Pendulum to bond and make memories, whether we were sitting in on inspiring sessions  or exploring the streets of Philadelphia together. I believe every aspect of our Philadelphia trip will benefit the future of The Pendulum and for that I am grateful.

Feeling Philly

Jonathan Black

It was a wonderful experience to partake in another Associated Collegiate Press/College Media Association conference. I made some great friends, connections and went through The Pendulum’s presentation unscathed.

I’ll admit that I have been feeling a bit weary of the journalism industry. I’ve been moving full force for the past two and half years with The Pendulum, internships and taking every opportunity I can to meet professions. I was ready for a break, but Philadelphia changed that.

Being around people who are so passionate about reporting, design and other aspects of journalism, it’s hard not to get excited about what’s in store for me for the future.

Know your audience (or audience, know your speaker)

The last session I attended on Saturday (again, apologies for lateness, here) revolved around handling conflict in the newsroom. Every newsroom I’ve ever been in, every newsroom I’ve ever heard of, can become a breeding ground for conflict. People who spend so much time with each other, people who are so attached to every word they write, people who all have different backgrounds — well, sometimes they’re just going to have at it.

I was expecting to leave with a sheaf of practical solutions for cooling things down when they get hot. Instead, I left with almost an hour I’ll never get back. The presenter (an adviser at a small state school) was a nice enough guy, with some interesting experiences to talk about.

Then he opened things up to questions.

Then, I wanted to leave.

Part of the challenge with hosting any presentation with an audience in mind of students from all over the country and all types of institutions is just that. The community college is an entirely different ballgame. And to be clear, I admire the effort and the work and the products that community colleges produce. But the same rules just don’t apply.

The presentation was clearly, based off of the description, designed primarily for students attending four-year schools. When people started asking questions about how to build their staff or find a printer or start a website, I no longer found a value in the presentation.

These are valid questions, and there are places to go where they can be answered. But allowing certain members of the audience to ask too many of them is detrimental to everyone else in the room who wants to learn a little something more.

- By Michael Bodley

What’s their age again?

Often, these kind of conferences get so wrapped up in the here and now that they forget to remind students that there’s a life out there after college, one they had better start preparing for, preparing now.

Saturday afternoon (please forgive the lateness of this post), an impressive group of Temple University grads shared what they’ve learned in their time after college. Moderated by John DiCarlo, Temple’s student media adviser, four panelists spoke candidly and carefully about their post college years.

Some lessons were familiar (and a bit repetitive): 1) There’s no better time to go into media. 2) The Internet makes starting your own news organization more feasible than ever. 3) Print isn’t dead; it’s only changing.

With the fluff out of the way, though, I’ve got to give it to the panelists. They each took different paths, and none of them were easy — a gentle reminder to work and work hard. One young woman in particular impressed me. Straight out of Temple, she was offered a job at a small newspaper in a town she had never lived in before. She accepted. She quit two weeks later.

I’ve been told so many times that I should be lucky to get a job in journalism that it’s made me tempted to jump after the first internship offer (or perhaps the first job offer, if I’m lucky, down the road.) It was refreshing, to be reminded that happiness matters, too.

Running as a common thread for all the panelists was the idea that you shouldn’t have to settle. Don’t take the first job. Don’t go for the high salary. And if it doesn’t yet exist, build your own.

- By Michael Bodley

A thought-provoking keynote

It’s been called an epidemic, and it’s been addressed by everyone from President Barack Obama to scientists at MIT. More and more, sexual assault on college campuses throughout the country is coming to the forefront of what can and should be covered — ranging from some universities who have had questionable responses to allegations to ones that are leading the charge to stop it from happening.

In a compelling College Media keynote, survivors, advocates and those who cover them came together to offer practical tops and suggestions for how to deal with the still-emerging problem. As in just about every story written for a college publications, there are ethical issues involved. Everyone knows everyone, especially on a smaller campus.

I was most intrigued by George Joseph, a Columbia University student journalist who has walked the careful line between advocacy and reporting. Having to dial back his involvement in No Red Tape, an advocacy group founded in protest of the way sexual assaults were handled at Columbia University, was difficult for George. Ethically, though, it was important and necessary to preserve as much objectivity as possible.

Like Colin, I’m still digesting my thoughts on the panel, but I’m sure glad I went.

- By Michael Bodley

Good lessons, better people and too much food

By Tommy Hamzik

Reflecting back on this weekend’s trip to Philadelphia for the ACP/CMA Convention, I really couldn’t be happier I went. First and foremost, I learned a lot about journalism and running a newspaper. But I also met some great people and enjoyed my time with my fellow staff members, which made the trip really fun.

Most of the sessions I went to dealt with sports and coverage of sports. It was great to hear from professionals about how they go about writing columns and keeping stats and more. One of the more helpful parts too was chatting with other students there about their papers and their experiences with covering their schools’ sports. Just hearing the questions they asked provided lots of insight to me about what we at The Pendulum do well and what we could do better.

Over the weekend, I was happy to become closer with my fellow staff members and make some great memories along the way. We spent a lot of time with editors from The Daily Gamecock at the University of South Carolina and the Daily Beacon at the University of Tennessee, which was a lot of fun too.

I couldn’t forget to mention my frequent trips to the market and all the food I had while we were in Philly. I probably consumed one too many cheese steaks or cups of chicken gumbo, but that’s just OK with me.

I’m thankful for the experience and am excited to implement some of the lessons I learned.

A whole lotta’ health care

Who isn’t talking about health care, these days?

One of the most practical and information-packed sessions I attended on the weekend was an all-encompassing primer on covering the healthcare industry. Karl Stark, science and health editor for The Philadelphia Inquirer provided a nice overview of an industry that makes up a whopping 18 percent of U.S. GDP — and it could hit 30 percent in our lifetime.

Touching on story ideas — examinations of hospital form 990s and marketing efforts from pharmaceutical companies, for example — Stark sparkled with enthusiasm. During my internship with The Baltimore Sun last summer, I got the chance to cover stories about medical startups and 3D printing technology. The presentation reminded me what I love about health coverage: it’s about the people, not about the institution, at the end of the day.

Stark’s talk reminded me that The Pendulum could do a better job covering student health issues. Without giving too much away, expect more of that coming down the line.

- By Michael Bodley