Many student journalists understand their degree shows that they can do the work, but the connections they make with media professionals is key to helping them get jobs.
Last weekend The Gramblinite had the opportunity to make those connections with media professionals and other students studying media at the annual Southeastern Journalism Conference held Saturday at the University of Southern Mississippi.
Four staff members of The Gramblinite attended the conference held in Hattiesburg, Miss.
Throughout the course of the conference, students had the opportunity to attend workshops with media professionals and take part in on-site media competitions testing their skills in writing, media history and photography among others.
Devante Martin, a freshman Gramblinite staff member from St. Joseph said he had the opportunity to hold an Emmy award at one of the sessions.
“I attended the session with Rick Mickler from ESPN,” Martin said. “It was a very insightful session because I was able to learn more about how he gained success. After the session he let everyone take photos with his Emmy. This was very inspirational, because who knows, one day I may have my own.”
Some of the other sessions at the conference focused on graduate school studies, fake news and public relations information.
Aside from attending the interactive sessions with journalism professions, several students competed in writing competitions.
Editor-in-Chief Jasmine Franklin, a sophomore from Chicago, said her feature writing on-site competition was difficult due to the time constraint.
“As a journalist I’m used to writing with a quick deadline, but this was by far the quickest turnaround story I’ve produced. I interviewed Jim Meade, who has been a professor at USM for 55 years. After the interview we had about two hours to write 900 words. This was a bit difficult for me because I wanted to focus on a different angle than what I imagine most students picked,” Franklin said.
Franklin did not place in the feature writing category but she said she still felt like a winner.
“Although I did not win an actual award I still felt like a winner walking away from the competition,” Franklin said. “I know I picked a controversial angle for my story focusing on the civil rights movement. I am proud of the story and I believe it’s one of my favorite pieces I’ve written. This was my first time competing at SEJC and I know next year I’ll do better.”
Gramblinite Editorial Assistant Josh Burley competed in the news writing competition.
“I was very intrigued by the topic they selected for us. I wrote a story on the African-American Military History Museum at USM. As a former ROTC member this was very interesting,” Burley said. “Although I did not win, I do feel like the judgment wasn’t fair because after the competition I received a email saying my piece was never turned in. I enjoyed looking around the museum.”
Art and Style Editor La Jazz Pichon said overall she had a great experience because she was able to meet other students.
“Overall the conference was a success,” Pichon said. “I was able to meet some of my sorrors from Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. I also met some students from Alabama State University and we compared our newspapers. I had a great time interacting with students from other universities.”
Franklin said she is looking forward to future journalism conferences.
“I’m so grateful that we were able to attend the SEJC conference this year,” Franklin said. “We had the chance to meet media professionals, other students and create work for our portfolios. I believe we all walked away learning something new.”