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BOOM! Day 3 already! This conference is going by faster than a free eagle flies majestically into the sunset.
Today was chop full of good stuff, so I’ll try to keep it brief. We begin our narrative on Floor 7 of the Newseum. Our first presentation was with 2012 Pulitzer Prize winner Sara Ganim. She told us her story: how she came to cover the infamous Sandusky story in her mid twenties, as well as gave us aspiring journalists some top tips to succeed in the industry. As it turns out, the key is to start small and get some down-to-earth experiences and get valuable mentors who you can really relate to. Who would’ve guessed?
Next up, the tech god and professional mind wrecker Val Hoeppner was back with a talk about tech trends in journalism, the end result of which was all of us getting a Google Cardboard VR headset and exploring the New York Times’ virtual worlds inside their very lovely app. Even nerdy old Rick was thoroughly impressed with this one. It’s an impressive experience, and it has even bigger implications.
Moving swiftly along, Free Spirit coordinator Catherine Cheney brought in University of Maryland College of Journalism Dean Rafael Lorente, USA Today inductee AJ Neuharth, Washington Post business reporter and relative local Abha Bhattarai, and St. John’s University journalism student Derrell Bouknight. That was a very long introduction for a very intriguing discussion about preparing for a journalism career. We covered a lot of ground, but a central theme (which has always been mentioned to me on these sorts of contexts) was that studying journalism in college wasn’t necessary to becoming a journalist. Of course, Dean Lorente also extolled the virtues of studying journalism, as did the others on the panel, so evidently it doesn’t matter either way, so long as you stay dedicated.
Over our incredibly fancy (catered) lunch, we talked with former presidential press secretary and current presidential debate commission member Mike McCurry. Our conversation spanned all and sundry, and at some point I’ll post the details. Needless to say, it was a fascinating conversation.
Next stop: USA Today. By the way, if you think I’m moving along very quickly, it’s because I’m mirroring the speed at which this conference is moving: too fast. We toured the facilities of USA Today, touching on a variety of departments and then finishing up with a Q/A session with executive editor Beryl Love and managing editor Patty Michalski. Again, lots of great stuff. They’ve got a massive hub in the middle of the newsroom where all the higher ups sit, and it’s easy to imagine that breaking news sends everyone scurrying to the middle. Overall, it was great to tour a big press company and see what the modern newspaper looks like from the inside. The top editors also had some great tips for leadership, so that didn’t hurt, either. These pictures are only shots of the lobby. Check back soon for more of the inside.
Also, this guy.
Boom! Dinner. Chicken. Cake. French horn. Done.
Bang! Back to the Newseum to hear “Freedom Sings”. This was a concert performance and narration of a number of songs that were considered racy, explicit, misinterpreted, and revolutionary throughout the ages. It was, however, performed by people who were quite good but also quite old. It didn’t quite hit the modern day comparison I was looking for, but the literary analyst in me will have to wait for another day. While the music was sadly lacking Scatman John, it was well-played and accompanied by some interesting history, so overall: not bad.
We concluded the night with another humid, dark tour of the monuments on the mall. Nothing of note happened here. Please don’t ask. Trust me.