Journalism Conferences: A Waste of Time or A Great Opportunity?

SHCP students are constantly busy, swamped with homework, extracurriculars such as sports and VPA, volunteering, and more. Due to their pile of responsibilities, although not all students do this, many tend to gravitate toward activities that will not waste their time. Students participate in extracurriculars after school but only ones that are interesting and worthwhile. Many students who like English classes become interested in possibly going to journalism conferences to learn and improve their writing. However, many are hesitant as to whether going to a conference is worth one of their precious Saturdays.


Journalism conferences are without a doubt worth attending. At these conferences, there are many learning opportunities for students to improve their writing. Students become inspired by the innovations of other students and by the strong journalism programs others schools provide. It is also nice to be around others that enjoy the same subject as you and work towards similar goals.


On September 29th, Palo Alto High School held the 2018 NorCal Media day at their school. They started off with an introduction of the event from Brian Wilson, the JEANC board member and President of Palo Alto High School. Student journalists were then released to explore the various conferences, which were split into four 45 minute sessions. There was a multitude of different topics to choose from including photography, writing, news-writing, opinion writing, video, podcasts, leadership, editing, social media, and much more.


I attended this conference along with two of my classmates from SHCP, Alexa Weaver’20, and Nicole Szeto’20. I found this experience to be extremely informative. In the first session we went to, we learned the seven keys to a better feature story. “It was very informative and fun. There was knowledge available at the session that I would never have gotten in a regular class,” said Nicole.


In the second session, led by students at Palo Alto High, we learned key factors in opinionated writing. This session was especially inspiring since it was led by students who were genuinely passionate about the subject. It motivates us into thinking, “Maybe someday I can similarly present to other writers and explain how to improve and help them gain more skills in writing too.” It puts things into perspective, allowing us to see our future and know that more things are possible than we previously imagined. “The opportunity to learn more about writing and newspaper was inspiring. It made me want to work harder for our school newspaper,” said Alexa.


In the third session, we were introduced to newswriting and were taught how to format and style our news pieces. It was really cool to see how professional and put together a student was in her presentation. The content was really helpful and I was able to learn the proper way of writing a news-specific article. I thought this experience was really important in assisting me in honing my craft and fostering my professionalism.  


Overall, the journalism conference was well worth spending a Saturday on. It put a fire in us to work harder for our school newspaper while providing us with the essential skills to do so. I hope that in the future, students of SHCP will take advantage of this great opportunity!