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ACP 2014 | Day #1: Mini-Monsoons and Ethical Journalism (STORIFY)

Follow Managing Editor Natalie Meier on Twitter for ACP updates: @nat_meier

The view from one of the rooms of The Campanil editors at ACP in San Diego. (Natalie Meier)
The view from one of the rooms of The Campanil editors at ACP in San Diego. (Natalie Meier)

As I write this, a storm is brewing outside the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa in San Diego, where the Associated Collegiate Press Conference (ACP) is being held this year. Right now, gusts of wind going at about 30 mph are pelting down on student journalists hurrying to conference rooms. Rain is coming down like sheets of white mist. Storms like this seem uncharacteristic of a city ACP has marketed to us as “Sun, Sand and Serious Journalism.” There’s definitely a lot of ‘serious journalism’ to be had and I can see the wet ‘sand’ from our balcony…but the sun is nowhere to be found!

Nevertheless, what we came here for is not a break from the gloomy Bay Area weather or a day on the beach; we came to ACP to be better journalists and to learn from the best.

Managing Editor Natalie Meier's news badge at ACP in San Diego.
Managing Editor Natalie Meier’s news badge at ACP in San Diego.

So far, I’ve attended two informative workshops focused on the legal rights of students and the ethics of reporting. Interestingly enough, some of the journalistic principles we’ve been discussing with students from all over the country this morning are 1) telling the truth, and 2) doing it in a way that will minimize harm.

It reminds me a little of the oath medical practitioners swear by: “first, do no harm.”

While it’s inevitable that some stories are painful, emotional and sometimes triggering for people to read, minimizing the amount of harm done by a story while still telling the truth is a line journalists always strive to adhere to. The “Journalism Ethics: Doing The Right Stories The Right Way” presentation hosted by Chris Ison of University of Minnesota has been the most insightful for me because of the reactions The Campanil staff get in response to our stories — which is often mixed. We never know how our readers will respond to the stories we bring to the table, so we prepare ourselves for all types of criticism, constructive or otherwise.

My goal was to walk away with the beginnings of a plan to cover “the hard stuff” in a way that effectively minimizes harm, involve our readership in the story writing process as much as possible and formulate a healthy compromise that aligns with the core principles of journalism, all whilst trying to build a more tangible relationship with our readers.

It may seem like a tall order, but now that I’ve discussed these hopes, fears and plans with some of the other brilliant, journalistic minds around me, I feel confident that by the end of this conference, I will be returning to Mills with not only a different approach to engaging with readers, but a renewed sense of passion and purpose in pursuing my craft.

The best part about all of this? These were only my first two workshops.



Follow Managing Editor Natalie Meier on Twitter for her ACP updates: @nat_meier

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