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FREE SPIRIT DAY 2: News, Neuharth, and Never Stopping


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Day 2 began early, with a hotel breakfast and a 7:30 departure for NBC studios. We were off to Meet the Press. Everyone was excited for the interviews with Paul Ryan and Loretta Lynch, as well as just seeing the filming of the news show.
Cut to twenty minutes later as everyone (crammed onto a single bleacher) attempted not to poke their neighbors with elbows and kneecaps. We found out the Ryan and Lynch interviews were pre-recorded, so that was a bit disappointing, but it was still fantastic to see the elaborate system of lights on the ceiling (check out the picture) and the whole process of filming an episode of Meet the Press. As it turns out, Chuck Todd rerecorded some of his remarks during the conversation with a clever little close up shot. No doubt the audience never knows the difference. Afterwards, Mr. Todd came over for a picture with us Free Spirits (which I will put up as soon as I have it) and a Q/A session (the contents of which I am not allowed to divulge). After all too short a time, he was whisked away to catch a flight.
Also, here’s a nice shot of Chuck Todd getting nice and makeup’d:
We were bustled out of NBC and bussed over to the Newseum, where we attended a session with all-around tech, news, and teaching wizard Val Hoeppner about using social media for news. It was very enlightening; I will certainly have some suggestions for our journalism program back home.
Over lunch, we listened to Gene Policinski talk about the First Amendment survey most of us took a while back. There was certainly a fair amount of guilt tripping, which one can hardly expect to avoid when the subject is civic education in America.
Next up was a session called The New Normal, with National Geographic editorial director Susan Goldberg, VICE News social media head Dan Fletcher, and Washington Post story team editor Emily Chow, with the interview conducted by Dani Neuharth (Al’s granddaughter) as well as members of the audience. I’m pleased to announce that the landscape of news is changing drastically, but it’s OK! As long as us good little journalists stick to our principles, we can sail through it to keep the industry alive. Excellent. Good. Unless something drastic happens along the lines of a hive mind for instantaneous news connectedness.
Next up, we had a tour of the Newseum (including both a guided portion and a freeroam portion), which was as fantastic as I expected. I especially liked the exhibit on the FBI and the moral questions concerning crime reporting. The Pulitzer Prize gallery was also excellent. The newspaper on display from Wisconsin was the Green Bay Gazette, and I’m sure that’s because of my awkward family history with the Journal Sentinel (best left unsaid).
After that, we went to another information session with Dani Neuharth, except she was accompanied by her mother (Al’s daughter) and her brother. The goal here was for us to learn more about the man whose conference we’re attending, and as such we were indoctrinated with videos of Al talking to the first few generations of Free Spirits, as well as interviews aplenty. The Neuharths also filled us in about how Al inspired and helped them along their paths to success. It did end up getting a little repetitive, but it was all good stuff.
When we were finished there, it was off to dinner and then a tour of the capital’s top monuments. Our most notable stop was the white house, where we met a protester named Joshua. Joshua educated us about how all the media and politicians are puppets for the corporations, so we did our best to encourage him that our generation of journalists would be independent and unbiased. Hopefully our friend Joshua will remember that and gain back a little faith in the system.
You’ll note that this post is a little late. That’s because we got back at 10:45 last night and have had next to no down time. Excellent for the conference, but unfortunate for a struggling blogger!

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