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Student journalists take on Las Vegas

College students from all over the United States and Canada
turned out in Las Vegas last weekend – but not for reasons you
might think. They weren’t there for the uninhibited drinking and
gambling, the NASCAR race or the Britney Spears concert.

The event that drew more than 700 students and advisers to Las
Vegas was the National College Newspaper Convention, hosted by the
Associated Collegiate Press. Among those in attendance were four
editors from The Weekly, including this writer.

The largest student press convention of its kind offered up four
days of informative sessions, addressing a number of critical
issues facing college journalists today. Hot topics included the
threat to freedom of speech on college campuses, ethics in digital
photography and appropriate use of weighted or biased words.
Colleges in attendance ranged from small private colleges, such as
Mills and St. Mary’s, to very large universities such as University
of California Los Angeles and Brigham Young University.

As a result the size of the staffs, the publication cycle and
production quality varied greatly among the newspapers. UCLA has a
total staff of 150 students, and publishes a full size color
20-page newspaper five days a week, while Cal-State Chico has an 80
person staff and publishes 24 pages every week. Other schools have
smaller staffs, such as Nazareth College in Rochester, N.Y., which
has a three person staff, no journalism class and publishes only
once monthly.

However diverse the groups, they found common threads through
their struggles, successes and their hunger to learn more.
Reporters and editors shared stories ranging from common
copyediting mistakes to the challenges of managing deadlines,
newspaper staff and fighting censorship on their campuses. Colleges
brought along issues of their papers to exchange with other
schools, and share ideas.

Speakers and presenters ranged from a Pulitzer Prize winning
photographer for The LA Times, to a successful columnist who began
on his college paper and self-syndicated.

A testament to why these conventions are necessary for students
pursuing journalism, keynote speaker Susan Mango-Curtis reminded
us, “Newspapers are going to change and journalists need to

She said that journalists have to be multi-taskers and need to
be trained in more than just writing. “Learn design, journalism
color and typography,” she said.

Adviser of The Chico State Orion Dave Waddell said that while
technology is changing things in journalism, it’s still people
talking to people, and that will never change.

Other sound advice came from Harlan Cohen, syndicated

“Put a media kit together, send it out, and when you get
rejected, call the people who signed the rejection letter. Thank
them and ask ‘What can I do to get my work published?'”

“Write, write, write, surround yourself with great people that
can help you along the way, and be hungry!” he said in conclusion
of the convention.

The Weekly staff attended this conference with funding from the
Undergraduate Research Opportunity Grant at Mills.