That’s a wrap

By Christina Elias

After spending the weekend in D.C. hopping from session to session and monument to monument, I’m sad to say we’re back on campus and the fun is over.

I’m very impressed with what the ACP had to offer this weekend. The keynote speakers and sessions were all incredible opportunities I was happy to take advantage of while I had the chance. I was able to hear from accomplished communicators from The New York Times, the Washington Post, the White House, universities across the country and more.

I would say the most valuable piece of insight I gleaned from my time at the ACP convention was the continually evolving capabilities of news media in how we produce and deliver content across platforms. There are so many ways to creatively provide content to different audiences, and I can’t wait to use these concepts in my own work.


ACPDC Rewind: Rewarding experience, amazing keynotes, wider speaker variety needed in sessions

By Bryan Anderson

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, I have thoroughly enjoyed the past few days in Washington D.C. at the ACP National College Media Convention. I got to have a former Washington Post editor critique my resumé and offer advice for being competitive when applying for internships. Bill Elsen told me clips are the greatest item of importance along with a cover letter or bio. Though resumés are important too, he said evaluators care most about experience and drive.

The highlight of the convention was the fantastic keynote speakers. Because our organization left Sunday morning, I only got to see three of the four presenters — Donna Brazile, Bob Woodward and Edward Snowden. All of these keynote addresses were informative and helpful for young professional journalists. I really appreciated how ACPDC had keynote speakers with diverse backgrounds.

The sessions themselves were interesting, especially Al Drago’s presentation about Snapchat. It seemed the majority of speakers in sessions were professors talking about issues specific to their institutions or of little relevance to my work at Elon University. For example, one speaker talked about FOIA requests. The presentation was interesting and engaging, but it had little to do with my work in student media at a private institution. I would hope more efforts could be made in the future to try to bring in more speakers from professional newsrooms as opposed to professors. Several professors delivered amazing presentations. I just hoped to see greater variety in the scheduling.

As a side note, one issue I had was the lack of opportunities for people to interact with students from other organizations. I felt that an overwhelming majority of students stayed within their respective social circles. The opportunity cost to this was an open exchange of ideas. I’m not sure I have a solution to this problem because I feel it is more of a cultural issue. Nevertheless, I felt it was worth noting that there is value in fostering a more collaborative, sociable environment. I was still able to meet a couple terrific individuals I will make sure I stay in touch with.

Outside of the convention, I was able to enjoy the city by walking to the White House and the Lincoln Memorial. I even got to visit the Newseum for a couple hours. In the future, I hope to be able to explore more of the city. Also, I loved capping off the trip by going to the Verizon Center to watch the Washington Capitals square off against the New York Rangers. Though my adviser was not pleased with the outcome — the Rangers won 4-2 — we had a fun time.

Cheers from D.C., it’s been a terrific experience! I very much look forward to coming to the next conference.

Snowden keynote an amazing experience

By Bryan Anderson

The keynote speakers have been remarkable throughout the course of this conference. Today proved to be no exception as Edward Snowden spoke today. It was remarkable to see the man behind the NSA revelations and learn more about the person.

One of the more interesting parts of the keynote occurred when he started talking about his selfless motives for leaking classified information about the government’s massive data collection program.

I was surprised to hear him explain how he thought the story would only stay in the news for about five days. When he said surveillance technologies have outpaced democratic control, I felt fearful about the security of the American people. I found it humorous how he began his presentation talking about how journalists are the ones who like him the most.

The only areas of disappointment for me was that the line was too long to ask him a question and that he had offered lengthy responses that did not directly answer questions at time. While I’m happy the moderator did not interject, I wish some of Snowden’s responses could have been trimmed so more questions could have been asked.

FOIA session offers helpful information, little applicable to private institutions

By Bryan Anderson

Elon University is a private institution, which means access to public records is severely limited. Vince Filak offered an energetic, engaging presentation with a helpful overview of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). He constantly answered questions, including two from yours truly. In the presentation, Filak did a great job articulating how to go about executing a FOIA request.

He talked about the need to be specific with a written request, provide a timeline for how soon you expect to receive a response. He also explained how Frank LoMonte of the Student Press Law Center was a valuable resource for fielding legal questions. Moreover, the information was valuable but offered nothing new to me.

Bob Woodward keynote very similar to Elon appearance

By Bryan Anderson

Bob Woodward’s keynote address on Saturday was quite similar to the Fall Convocation speech he gave at Elon University last month. Woodward spoke in great detail about the Watergate Scandal and his interview with President Gerald Ford about the pardon. He even used the following identical lines when describing the phone call he received from Carl Bernstein: “The son of a bitch pardoned the son of a bitch.”

Though the Q&A portion of the event was quite informative and offered new information I had not heard before, the speech itself was underwhelming since I heard most of it before. My favorite question was when someone asked Woodward for his thoughts on emerging business models. Woodward saying he didn’t have an answer is telling of the environment many newsrooms are finding themselves in — struggling to find a sustainable revenue model.

I appreciated how Woodward spoke of Jeff Bezos’ purchase of The Washington Post and publishers taking on a limited influence. He highlighted the importance of having publishers aware of the newsgathering process but removed from the day-to-day decisions.

Free to be me

Stephanie Hays

This morning I attended the session called “Free to be me and willing to work for it,” by Ken McCoy. It was an exuberant and amusing session filled with plenty of stories from his 32 years of experience being a freelance photographer.

While his anecdotes were funny, I wish there was a little more advice in the talk itself. I did get some good notes about the importance of connecting with people, keeping your credentials on you at all times, pitching your own opportunities and stories, and listening to your gut feeling. But I felt as though a lot of the talk was being geared toward freelance photography, and not how to be yourself and getting in the mindset of success.

There was plenty of time for questions at the end of the talk, but some people were asking very personal questions that needed tailored answers. And I’ve never been a fan of that.

Overall I thought it was a fun talk, but I wish it had a little more direction, and a little more I could apply to life outside of being a freelance photographer.

A meeting with Mr. Manifold

Stephanie Hays

Instead of attending a 10 a.m. or 11 a.m. session yesterday, I had the incredible opportunity to walk to The Washington Post’s offices and get a personal tour from The Post’s Design Director Greg Manifold.

I got to see some backstory on how certain election debate gifs were made, hear about the visuals for their Kindle Fire App and even got a sneak peek at the front page of the Style section for the Sunday edition (hint: it’s AWESOME).

The tour lasted about an hour and I got to talk to six different Post employees, including Graphics Director Kat Downs Mulder, and the Director of Emerging News Products, Chris Meighan. And what stood out to me the most after meeting with all of these people is that after I asked a question, the word “collaboration” showed up in almost every answer.

The Washington Post is a hugely collaborative paper. Designers are collaborating with reporters, the graphics team, the engineering team, the product team and more in order to create inspired designs that work to serve the audience and tell them engaging and interesting stories that they want to read.

Hearing from all of these journalists has really inspired me to take this information back to Elon News Network and push our team to find new and inventive ways to tell stories to our student audience. How can we do that in the paper? How can we do that online? How can we do that on social media? How can we do that on new and upcoming mediums? And how can we, as an entire team of student journalists, collaborate (!) and work together to use our strengths to make the stories we want to tell the very best they can be.

I want to see little icons with our stories online that people can click on to see related articles, I want to talk to my designers about telling stories through interactive online graphics, I want to use video as a backdrop for articles and graphics, and, most importantly, I want to push and push and push everyone to talk to each other about their stories and presentation ideas. When we work together, we become stronger.

We may not have as large of a team or as much experience or as many resources as The Washington Post does, but that doesn’t mean we can’t work together the way they do. I want to see Elon News Network be not just a news organization, but a supportive, collaborative news team.