My Top 5 Experiences at WJMC

Throughout the course of the Washington Journalism and Media Conference, us National Youth Correspondents have experienced a multitude of speeches, monuments, and new friendships. The top five that stand out to me are the events that impacted me the most thus far on my trip, and will last with me for the rest of my life, they are as follows.

1. My favorite activity on the trip so far has been the speech given to us by Kevin McCarthy, an entertainment reporter, because it was a Skype call that he took the time to make from Spain! He was very enthusiastic when speaking to us, and we could tell that he was very passionate about what he does. We also ended up creating our own “hashtag” in #nerdtears.

2. Next up on my list would be our adventure to the global headquarters of National Geographic, where we heard another speech by Susan Goldberg, the first female editor-in-chief for the corporation. She was very moving and powerful in how she made her way to the top, and gave great advice to us aspiring journalists in the future. After her speech we had the opportunity to also visit two exhibits inside the building which were the Indian Jones exhibit, and the Monster Fish exhibit.

3. Third on my everlasting list of exciting adventures we have partaken in here at WJMC is the Newseum. This was a great opportunity to see first-hand the evolution of news through time, and get a better sense of what to expect up ahead in the future. There was a multitude of fun games, and a simulator that allowed us to act as a live news reporter, which was very exciting!

4. Number four on my list would be our trip to the National Press Club, where we heard a number of speeches by some of the most powerful journalists in the industry. The one that stood out the most to me was given by Sonya Ross, a Race and Ethnicity reporter for the Associated Press. She really related to all of us and encouraged us to strive for our best because journalism is a life long career, and I really appreciated that extra boost of confidence.

5. Lastly, number five on my list would be our Twilight Monument Tour, in which we went to some of the most major monuments in the Washington DC area. It was very inspiring to read all of the various quotes in each memorial, and to see some of the most influential people in America’s history be glorified forever in such a “monumental” fashion.

These were only five out of the numerous other activities planned out for all of us National Youth Correspondents here at WJMC, all of the information that I have gathered through our speeches, and group meetings will stick with me forever, as I try to make my mark on the world of journalism. As this experience nears its end, I reflect on all of the knowledge I have gained, and am extremely grateful that I had the opportunity to attend the Washington Journalism and Media Conference.

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My Top 5 Quotes Through the First 3 Days of WJMC

Throughout the entirety of the Washington Journalism and Media Conference so far, I have been witness to many great speeches by very powerful people in the business. I have received a new outlook on journalism as a whole, and how to look at things in a different viewpoint in not just journalism, but all that I do. These are my favorite quotes of the conference so far that I have been affected by the most, said by some great role models.

1.  “You all have a place in this vast industry of journalism, because this country craves information.” -Sonya Ross a Race and Ethnicity Editor for the Associated Press

2. “Ask critical, not cynical questions.” -Nicole Livas, a news anchor for WAVY-TV

3. “Follow the boss, not the job.” -Jamie Smith, a White House Correspondent

4. “Access is everything.” -Michael Shearm, a White House Correspondent for the Washington Post

5. “It’s going to be a lot better when there aren’t that many “firsts” for women.” -Susan Goldberg, the first female editor for National Geographic

As you can see these are very powerful messages conveyed by some of the most prolific journalists on the block. I feel so honored that I was able to listen to great advice by these wonderful people, and through these speeches I feel much more prepared for what my career and life have for me ahead. Stay tuned, because this isn’t the last time you’ll be hearing from me.

The First Official Day of the WJMC

It was a restless night full of twisting and turning but, when I did finally wake up, I knew the first official day of the conference was finally here. Although anticipation caused me to lose a little sleep, I hustled out of bed in excitement, got dressed and practically ran out of the dorm as I scrambled to make my way to the dining hall on the George Mason University campus.

When I entered the room, there was an array of dining booths set up to accommodate the abundance of students participating at the WJMC. All of the National Youth Correspondents mingled and ate amongst ourselves, taking advantage of being able to socialize outside of our assigned “color groups.” This gave me a better idea of the type of people, my peers, who are also attending the conference. Once I finished my meal,  I started off towards the buses along with the rest of the group. Today we were to head to the Newseum–a historic building in Washington DC containing various news industry memorabilia, with some highlighting the evolution of media throughout the years. We proceeded through all of the exhibits, participating in various games that tested our skills and abilities as a journalist, as well as a fully automated news cast simulator that allowed us to act as a real field reporter covering a specific story for a news station. Once we finished our expedition through the history of news-making, we headed off toward the White House. It was hard to contain my excitement!

However, that excitement took a bit of a left turn as, once we arrived at the White House entrance, security and police pushed all citizens (including our group) away from the premises due to a motorcade entering the area. So, unfortunately, we were unable to take our group picture today.  However, another opportunity to visit the White House may present so hopefully that photograph will appear in a blog post later this week.

After that minor itinerary shift at the White House, we headed off to hear presentations from Jamie Smith, an Executive VP of Media Strategies for Edelman, and Michael Shear, a White House Correspondent for the New York Times. They educated the group about various journalism techniques and strategies commonly utilized in the White House. Their speeches were very insightful, and I learned how to decipher the “good” jobs from the “bad,” as well as the ability to leverage my interests to my professional advantage.

Courtesy of Mason Kern
Copyright Mason Kern

After the presentations, we headed off to dinner at Buca di Beppo, an Italian restaurant that serves meals family style. Today happened to be my 16th birthday, so all of my peers banned together and sang me “Happy Birthday,” which was a really special and unexpected moment. After dinner, our last outing of the evening led to a Twilight Monument Tour through which we viewed several different monuments scattered across Washington DC. I gazed upon the likes of the: World War Two Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. Each monument employed various quotes to spur an emotional response felt in the hearts of all who read them, most certainly including me.

After a long and productive day, and on my 16th birthday, I have reflected on much about myself and my future career choice of broadcast journalism. While I learned a great deal today, ringing in my ears are the words of Michael Shear from his presentation earlier on, when he said “access is everything.” Today was a good day. A very good day indeed.

My Arrival at WJMC

As I woke up today at the ungodly hour of four in the morning, I was filled with so many emotions on how my experience at the Washington Journalism and Media Conference would go. I started off for the San Diego International Airport filled  with excitement about how my week would begin.

This was my first time ever flying by myself and, of course, I was nervous, but as I boarded my flight to Dulles International Airport the suspense and excitement contained within me was beginning to feel unbearable! The flight lasted all of five hours, but once I arrived at the airport it was all worth it because I realized that my first step toward becoming a legitimate journalist was beginning to unfold. As I gathered my bags from the baggage claim I mingled with other National Youth Correspondents who are attending the conference, and quickly made some new friends. After all of us checked in with our administrators, we headed off to the campus of George Mason University. We were one of the later buses to arrive, so once we got to campus I ran to my dorm and changed into my formal attire for the dinner that was planned for all attendees that night.

After I changed, I headed down to the main courtyard, where I met up with some of my other peers.  Once we were all together we headed down to the dining hall, and I got situated with my assigned “color group,” which was red. Once everyone was seated, and after a brief wait, my table got up to collect our food at the buffet and as we ate we talked amongst ourselves, getting to know each other better. After our informal table discussions, we enjouyed our first guest speaker of the conference: Nicole Livas, a news anchor for WAVY-TV who gave us insight into her profession as a news anchor, as well as picking the right career path.

Courtesy of WAVY-TV
Courtesy of WAVY-TV

After her speech, each color group went into a meeting room so we could participate in various activities that allowed us to get to know one another on a more personal level.

After our group meetings were complete, I headed back to my dorm where I met my roommate, Robert Sweeney from Huntington, West Virginia. After getting to know each other a little more we finally settled in … and I got to writing this blog post.

My first day at the conference has been a blast! I can’t wait to experience all else the WJMC has in store for us this week. Stay tuned!