Four BGSU journalism students attended the Ohio Newspaper Association Convention in early February, where they learned more about the industry and watchdog reporting.
The four students, William Channell, Danae King, Kathryne Rubright and Cassie Sullivan also had the opportunity to meet and talk about what other universities were doing with their own papers.
The convention, in Columbus, was bustling with journalists, new and seasoned. The keynote speaker and opening speaker brought energy and a buzz to the conference and its attendees.
Channell, a junior, enjoyed the keynote speaker’s emphasis on the need for change. “One of the biggest obstacles are people within our industry that are opposed to change,” he said. “They don’t understand that professions need to evolve in order to survive.”
Sarah Sladek, founder of XYZ University, discussed generations X and Y and how to work with them and get them to work for you.
She counseled attendees on how to improve the employee experience, fix branding problems and warned “if you’re not changing, guess what, you’re dying.”
The next part of the convention was when the students got to engage and connect with professionals.
“Going to the ONA conference gave us the ability to meet and talk to professionals and to other college students in the world of journalism,” Sullivan, a sophomore, said. “By going, we were able to talk about what journalism and media looks like right now and what it will look like in the future. I walked away with ways to improve my own writing, my university’s paper and an idea of what the future for both myself and journalism looks like.”
One of the sessions that was most enjoyable featured Mandy Jenkins from Digital First Media. Jenkins talked about covering beats in a new way.
“Make it shareable,” she said. “It’s about finding those things that are unique to your community and building off that.”
King, a senior, really appreciated Jenkins’ presentation and the information she gave. “She encouraged journalists to ‘create your own network,'” which was a really cool idea,” King said. “After watching Jenkins, I felt inspired to be more energetic about covering a beat and engaging readers.”
Jenkins presentation left a big impact on Channell as well. “The thing that left the largest impression with me was the emphasis on the changing nature of the journalism industry,” he said. “It’s increasingly becoming a digital field, and much of what I’m hearing these days is how journalists are going to have to adapt to that.”
For Rubright, a junior, the affirmation that she chose the right career was enough. “It was great to hear from people who are out there doing the kinds of things that I want to do,” Rubright said. “The focus was on how to be successful going forward. The future will be online and on social media instead of on paper and that’s okay.”
Another session on watchdog reporting gave the students tips on what to expect in not just their professional careers, but during their university career.
For the senior in attendance, it provided more information about what she’s currently learning. “I learned more about how to get public records despite FERPA,” King said. “Jill Riepenhoff was really helpful in giving tips on how to get tips from universities.”
For the underclassmen, the tips gave a glimpse of what to expect later in college. “I’ll be able to use what I saw in that presentation when I begin to do the more serious reporting later in college and eventually as a professional,” Channell said.
Faculty members Nancy Brendlinger and Catherine Cassara also attended with the students.