The importance of student media organization attending conventions

Nicole F. Anderson, News and Co-Managing Editor

Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) has student media organizations, a journalism minor and offers journalism classes under communications, but that’s not enough. Being a budding journalist is difficult when the college you attend isn’t a journalism focused school, which is why it’s so important for student media members to have the opportunity to attend media conventions.

Independent editors Robert, Amaris and I went to the National College Media Convention in Louisville, Kentucky, from Oct. 25-28. The convention was hosted by the Associated Collegiate Press (ACP) and College Media Association (CMA).

The convention is for students involved in a college newspaper, magazine, radio station, television news station, journal or yearbook. The sessions ranged from perfecting writing and photography to how to deal with censorship. The wide-range of topics offered at the convention are crucial for students to learn about, especially students attending colleges without journalism programs.

During the sessions, students are able to pick the brains of working professionals in the field they’re interested in. It’s an indescribable feeling to speak to a professional newspaper editor who has more years of experience than you’ve been alive. For example, the Independent registered for a newspaper critique. Opinions Editor, Amaris and I sat down with Gary Metzker, a former L.A. Times sports news editor. Metzker has won three Pulitzer Prizes, which is one of the highest awards a journalist can receive. Not only did Metzker give us valuable feedback and tips on our newspaper and how we can improve, he surprised us. Metzker brought one of his Pulitzer Prizes to the critique and allowed Amaris and I to hold it. Holding his Pulitzer Prize and hearing how passionate he is made me fall in love with journalism even more than I knew was possible.

Former Editor of the Washington Post, Bill Elsen, was the “Resident Editor” during the convention and offered up his time to sit down with students and speak to them one-on-one. While I wasn’t able to sit down with him during this convention, I was fortunate enough to have attended one of his sessions at the ACP/CMA summer boot camp at the University of Minnesota – Minneapolis in 2016.

Besides rubbing elbows with working journalists and editors, students had the opportunity to attend sessions and speak with the Student Press Law Center (SPLC) lawyers. Two of the many sessions the SPLC led were “Covering Campus Crime” and “Avoiding the Privacy Trap.” Learning information on laws that affect journalists from practicing lawyers is detrimental to a student journalist. After college, employers will expect us to already know these things and these sessions offer the framework of what we should continue to research on.


The benefits of attending student media conventions doesn’t end with learning from the professionals, it continues with connecting and networking with our peers from other student media organizations across the United States. The Independent was able to sit down and talk to editors from other schools and peer-edit our newspapers. Amaris and I sat down with the Garrett Fuller, the assistant design editor of the Muleskinner, University of Central Missouri’s newspaper, and exchanged helpful tips and ideas.

Fuller taught us how to create QR codes which readers are able to scan with their phones to bring them to our website. Afterward, I showed Fuller how to take out the middle tones and use unsharpen mask in Photoshop to ensure photos are crisp and aren’t dark when they’re printed in their newspaper.

Since the students at the media convention may possibly be our coworkers one day, building these connections while we’re in college will help us in the long-run; however, regardless of what the other media students may be to us in the future, they’re just as important in the present.

It’s conventions like the ACP/CMA National College Media Convention that inspire me and remind me why I love what I do.