Sunday, September 23, 2007

WJEA Journalism Day: Interest, Energy, Enthusiasm

More than 800 journalism students and their advisers from as far away as Spokane participated in Journalism Day at the University of Washington Thursday, Sept. 20.

It's always fun to be on the UW campus the week before school starts there-- everything is clean, trimmed and ready to go. And this year, Journalism Day coincided with "freshman move-in day"-- so that added some extra congestion and excitement, as well.

It's always a whirlwind of activity, with morning sessions presented by journalism professionals, followed by lunch, followed by two keynote speakers. This year, veteran yearbook adviser and national speaker, Barb Page, addressed yearbook students, and Jennifer Sizemore, MSNBC executive producer and vice president, addressed the newspaper and broadcast students.

We were thrilled to have a visit from Angela Thomas, assistant director at "J-Ideas" ( at Ball State University (Indiana), who facilitated a strategy session on student press rights following the keynote in Kane Hall. J-Ideas is a grant-funded non-profit promoting heightened awareness of the First Amendment among our nation's students. I was surprised (and pleased) to see around 100 students remain after the keynote to participate in that discussion. Cleary this is an issue that is on the minds of our journalism students around the state.

The trust of the meeting with Angela Thomas, was that students who care about this issue should gear up for another legislative fight this year. They were encouraged to find ways to be in touch with one another-- and this blogspot was suggested as one way to do that-- so that they can mobilize for trips to Olympia, if necessary, and just stay informed.

I personally want to thank all who helped to make the day such a success: the 23 journalism professionals who presented morning sessions, the keynoters and the event sponsors: the UW Department of Communication, the Society of Professional Journalists, Pacific Publishing Company (who printed our booklet free of charge), and the Washington News Council (who underwrote our use of Kane Hall for keynoter Jennifer Sizemore).

I especially want to thank Angela Thomas for flying to Seattle just to be here for Journalism Day. Her commitment is contagious and her energy level amazes me -- even while hobbling with a broken foot.

I'm, as usual, exhausted... but in a good way. J-Day is an event that reaffirms that we are doing important work. The students who attend are energized to move into the year doing the best journalism possible for their school communities. The teachers (many brand new advisers this year), head back to their schools knowing that they have a supportive organization behind them and no matter what happens, help is just a phone call away.

It's not too early to put J-Day on your calendar for next year: Thursday, Sept. 18, 2008.

Hope to see you before then!

Kathy Schrier, MJE
president, WJEA

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