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Attendees, instructors share perspective on sessions

Across the nation, students travel to Columbia University for the 94th annual CSPA Spring Convention, March 14-16. Nearly 2,700 student journalists, representing about 310 schools, attend sessions taught by journalism advisers, professional journalists and student leaders.

According to the CSPA website, the convention offers classes for members of magazine publications, yearbook, journalism and video productions staffs.

The Fresno Feather New York team, comprised of 10 members attend classes at the university, while 20 Feather staffers remain behind in California. Advisers Greg Stobbe and Kori Friesen teach the session, “Further your digital audience” while editors Mariana Fikse, ‘18, Alex Rurik, ‘19, and Sam Cross, ‘19, instruct the class, “Elements of an Award Winning Team,” March 15.

Julia Fikse | The Feather Online

Edmund J. Sullivan, CSPA Executive Director teaches a session on editorials, March 16. 

In passing periods and at lunch, Feather journalists interviewed various individuals who attended or taught at the CSPA convention. Attendees and instructors share insight into the convention below. The Feather also encourages advisers and other journalism staffs to comment a reflection on the convention.

Convention encourages students to speak out 
Mariana Fikse, The Feather Online, teaches, “Elements of an Award Winning Team”
March 16, 2018

“I have learned a lot from this convention. I tried to attend as many classes as I could that had to do with editorials because I think that is something that I could improve on. I’m glad the CSPA has this conference because, not only is it really fun, it also encourages students to use their voice and prepare themselves for journalism outside of high school.”

Student’s voice is important
Kaylie Clem, The Feather Online, photojournalist
March 16, 2018

“I have attended classes that vary from advanced Photoshop to classes that teach how to utilize social media. I have learned how to create intriguing headlines and ways to package your pictures. A students voice is important because sometimes younger adults don’t have a voice.”

Sessions provide new perspectives
Rana Aghababazadeh, sports editor, El Estoque
March 15, 2018

“Yesterday I went to a lot of writing sessions. I didn’t gain that much from them. Today I went to a lot of design (sessions) because we are a hybrid newspaper. That really helped especially for next year when I am going to be one of the third year members on staff. I really want take what I have learned from this conference and implement it into our staff. It is always nice to get a different perspective from other publications.”

Struggling with censorship
Rogelio Escamilla, co-editor-in-chief, The Talon
March 15, 2018

“(At the convention) I’ve learned a lot about design and photography. There has been a lot of great speakers talking about ways we can improve our photography. Especially we have a problem with student freedom of the press. We went to one speaker that was talking just about that and how we can work with our administration to get them to let us write about what we want and not regulate us so heavily.”

We basically learned to talk with them (the administration) and explain to them why we do the  things we do. Our principle is a very good principle to us. He does protect the school sometimes if he thinks there is a possible lawsuit he won’t have us run something. We’ve learned to take control of our situation by knowing our own rights, informing him of our rights and explaining, ‘It won’t be a bad story. It won’t have the impact you think it might.’ We want to reassure him that it’s ok to run this. Hopefully that will work. We think it will.”

Convention unites student journalists
Edmund J. Sullivan, CSPA Executive Director
March 14, 2018

“I think this convention is important because it gives students an opportunity to come together and network with one another as well as learn from one another, and the teachers too. Predominantly it gives the students an opportunity to see what other students in schools do as well. Too often I think journalism is such a small activity in a school. One student a couple years ago came to me and said “we feel like we’re the ‘only’s and the lonelies’”. One of the great things about getting a group of people together from different schools and different states is that you can shatter that ‘only and lonely’ mentality.”


Becoming a better editor
Jeff Moffitt, Jostens, teaches, “I’m an Editor, NOW WHAT?”
March 14, 2018

“I talked about leadership in talking with yearbook, newspaper and magazine kids about how they can be more effective leading whatever their publication is. I think its really important that we teach our students how to be leaders. Sometimes they can be great staff members, but they don’t know how to be leaders.

“(When looking for a potential editor) It has to be someone that I can work with all year long. It also needs to be someone who is open to trying new things that works well with the other people on staff. Really someone that is open. I don’t think they have to be a perfect writer or a photographer, but I think they need to be good at helping people become the best they want to be.”

Journalism teaches discernment
Cohlman Moore, Mouth of the River, website manager
March 15, 2018

“I went one (class) on using white space, two different classes on censoring, a really cool one on use of words, and this one (“Elements of an Award Winning Team”). I think it (journalism) is really important because sometimes people see media on T.V. or in the newspaper and you might straight up trust everything they say is factual, whereas after doing student journalism, you can kind of see how some stories can be more biased. Someone might not have all the facts or a story might be continuing and the outcome of it will change over time.”


Personalize stories
Mellissa Kwan, speaker 
March 14, 2018

“I think that a lot of the time, modern media focuses on depressing stories. I think that some of the most uplifting stories are those individual stories of the people. I found that you are able to form a human connection with the people whose stories are being shared.”

Journalism gives students a voice
Glenys Quick, journalism teacher
March 15, 2018

“I think it (journalism) goes back to the cover original idea of the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press. I think it is very important for them to learn that kind of the idea journalism is to comfort the afflicted. It is just really important that they know that they have responsibility to the world, and know they have a voice to report and to end injustices.”

Students can change the world
Sarah Hadley, teaches, “Brand U”
March 15, 2018

“I think that people don’t realize that accidently we are telling stories about ourselves every day to the world. And branding yourself should not be about like three or something to company or like a literally brand. It’s really just about making sure that what you’re putting out to the world is reflective of who you really are. So that you can achieve your goals and people can get a vibe for your personality, because at the end of the day, your personality is what makes you most unique.

Kaylie Clem | The Feather Online

Kori Friesen explains how to effectively use images as a hook, in her session, “Using your image as a HOOK”.

“I feel like you guys are at the precipice of doing big things with your life, you see those kids in Florida right now with the recent school shooting and they’re more impressive than half the adults who are in the conversation politically right now. And I feel like I am just gonna be blown away by them and by everyone here today too, and how help eloquent how educated how smart you guys are. I really think you have the power to change the world, especially if you tell your story to the world every day in a thoughtful way.”

Creating a podcast
Jorge Soares, The Pawprint
March 15, 2018

“I think my favorite class so far was one that taught me how to make a podcast because I’m actually interested in making a podcast for my school. It was these two girls that made a podcast for their high school and it was really professional. I don’t know how they got all of the equipment for it, but I am going to look around for the same equipment they use and hopefully put a podcast together. I want to podcast about the news. I feel like not a lot of people are reading the paper sadly. I feel like podcasts are a much lighter way of getting the news. It’s not as intensive and it can be humorous if you do it right.”

The Feather Online encourages those who participated in the 2018 CSPA Spring Convention to engage below with a comment.The Feather also encourages advisers and other journalism staffs to comment a reflection on the convention.

For more New York coverage, read Feather takes NYC: Day 5 Recap. For more articles, read The quest for the perfect street taco.

Sam Cross can be reached Twitter and via email

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