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.

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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!

Spring Travel Gadgets

Preparing to head out on a spring break vacation? Here are a few tech tools to ensure your iPhone, tablet and gaming devices stay powered up, propped up, and on point.

New Nintendo 3DS XL (www.Nintendo.com) – $199.99

credit Nintendo
credit Nintendo

During spring break, countless kids across the country will gear up for long trips whether by land, air or sea. This year, turn an average getaway into an entertainment experience with the New Nintendo 3DS XL. Nintendo’s latest handheld system presents on-the-go fun with a variety of entertainment offerings including Netflix and Hulu, a built-in video/photo camera and microphone, plus new features including super stable 3D, and of course, hours of gameplay. It also has built-in “amiibo” support allowing users to get bonus items and content, customize their character and more when you use amiibo figures (like Mario!) with amiibo-compatible games. Players can also check out some of Nintendo’s latest games that are compatible with this device, including The

Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, and Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire.

Boostcase Power Case (www.BoostCase.com) – Starting at $79.95

Courtesy Boostcase
Courtesy Boostcase

Staying true to its celebrated patented, two-piece design, Boostcase’s Power Cases for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus feature a slim-fitting perforated snap case offering lightweight everyday protection as well as a modular battery sleeve that can be attached in a single click to provide additional power when needed (or removed when not). These Power Cases incorporate a number of other notable features, including an elegantly polished curved body, a simultaneous sync and charge function, a dedicated on/off switch, and a modern touch-activated LED light strip that meticulously expands or contracts to reflect changes in battery level. Additionally, Boostcase’s iPhone 6/6 Plus collection features the first-ever clear case so the elegance of the iPhone 6 can shine through.

Spider Monkey (www.Octa.com) – $79.99

Courtesy Octa
Courtesy Octa

Octa’s Spider Monkey is an extremely flexible and versatile tablet stand. It wraps, curls, and tucks in place for hands-free use on a tray or other table, on the couch, and in bed among other locales. It provides comfortable eye-level viewing that reduces neck strain, and can also help improve posture. The tablet stand is adjustable and rotates 360° for easy screen adjustment and also holds any iPad, tablet or e-reader from 7″ to 10″. It’s also compatible with most cases. When done with the Spider Monkey, users can fold and separate the components for easy travel or storage.

***Some or all of the item(s) detailed above were provided and/or sponsored to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Mason Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***

3 Audio Gadgets That’ll Be Music to Your Ears

When it comes to music, there is one undeniable truth. Sound quality is not optimized when listening to audio through sub-par headphones or speakers. And, with the huge strides the marketplace has made availing innovative, high-tech sound solutions at budget-friendly prices, there are many accessible options for amping up your listening experience. Here are three devices worth hearing about.

Razer Kraken Neon Pro Headphones (www.RazerZone.com) – $89.99
The first thing you’ll notice about the Razer Kraken Neon Pro headphones is that they look really cool, with each adorned in one of six super-vibrant colors: blue, green, yellow, orange, pink and purple. Then you put them on and immediately feel and hear what makes these headphones really worth your while. A closed ear cup design with plush circumaural padding is incredibly comfortable and, as importantly, creates superior sound isolation. Sound is further enhanced with Razer Surround Pro, Razer’s proprietary software, which creates a virtual 7.1 channel surround sound experience that feels just like live entertainment. The Neon Series is also outfitted with powerful drivers that pack deep and heavy bass tones to complement acutely-tuned mids and highs. Another feature is a retractable microphone that provides seamless connectivity to smartphones, tablets and other voice-enabled devices. Durable and portable, these hip headphones are perfect for both music and gaming.

Edge Wireless Headset (www.RedFoxWireless.com) – $119.99
Finally, wireless headphones that stay in place! With a built-in microphone and a single button call-answering feature that includes SIRI and Google voice integration, the Edge Wireless Headset makes it easy to be hands-free during calls, even when you’re 30-feet from your phone. The EDGE incorporates easy-to-use controls, making it simple to operate your audio device without missing a beat. With a design that works especially well for running and sport activities, this stay-put headset features an IPX4 nano coating for sweat and moisture protection and runs on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that provides up to 9-hours of continuous use with a 1-hour recharge time.

Altec Lansing SoundSTORM Shower Speaker (www.Target.com) – $79.99
Billed by the manufacturer as “the most innovative shower speaker on the market,” the Altec Lansing SoundSTORM not only plays music IN the shower with stellar sound performance, but it’s also equipped with a specially-voiced microphone for speakerphone capability that actually eliminates the sound of the shower so the caller cannot tell where you are. And, the Caller ID feature allows you to decide if you want to take the call. Other features include a splash and dust-resistant surface, onboard song navigation, voice confirmation, rubber hanger, 5 hours of battery life and NFC compatibility that all make your time in the shower more enjoyable. This speaker is compatible with iPhone and Android devices, tablets and computers.

***Some or all of the item(s) detailed above were provided and/or sponsored to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Mason Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***