Now More Than Ever Journalism Matters…

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Over 6,000 students from across the nation gathered in Washington DC to attend the national Journalism Education Association’s high school journalism convention, where they learned, celebrated, and enjoyed the progress of journalism, the nation’s capital, and how the two fit together. 

   After four years of dedication to Sedro-Woolley High School’s journalism program, traveling to Washington DC seemed like a culmination and celebration of all of my hard work.

   The theme of the conference, “Now more than ever journalism matters,” perfectly wrapped up my feelings toward the industry and even before going, I knew I would come back home with a first hand view of modern journalism and the skills that I could bring home and implement in the upcoming issues of The Cub. 

    The three-day convention began with a keynote presentation from NBC’s television journalist, Chuck Todd, who spoke about his unique path into the industry and the course he sees it taking in the future, emphasising the importance and need for local journalism, which I have spent the last four years advocating for and supporting through my efforts with The Cub. 

   The convention continued with a variety of hour-long sessions, conducted by professional journalists and university professors. I attended classes on finding your first job in the industry, understanding the importance of empathy in storytelling, photojournalism, the art of interviewing, as well as several others. All of the many convention rooms were filled with students just as eager as myself to learn and connect with others who share the same passion for journalism, despite coming from vastly different places. 

   While taking in all of that knowledge was great, the best part of the trip was feeling immersed in Washington DC- a city that is so rich with news, both modern and historical. The balance of modern office buildings with floor length windows as well as historic buildings that date back to the 1700s is so stark in DC. The streets seem to be equal parts residents hurrying to work and tourists who traveled from all over the world to gaze at the attractions. 

   We all see allusions to DC regularly in pop culture, but being there and truly seeing for yourself  the humble awe of the Lincoln Monument, the elegance Smithsonian buildings, the sheer size of the Capitol Building, and the way that the Washington Monument towers over it all in strength and solidarity are almost overwhelming in person.

   The same can be said about journalism. Sometimes it is hard to understand the real weight of it unless you are immersed in it. Being in DC and going to the Newseum allowed me to realize how impactful journalism is and how it has played a role in our nation’s history through both emotional storytelling as well as the dogged persistence of hard hitting reporting that provides vital information. The Newseum featured an exhibit on the journalists who covered 9/11 and how the rawness of tragedy and the drive to act merged together to spread the heartbreaking and terrifying news of the attack to people worldwide. 

   That, combined with the historical impeachment hearings that were well underway throughout the entirety of the visit, made very real to me how it ultimately falls onto the journalists to observe and report what’s unfolding around them and share it with the people of America and beyond. 

   This importance not only resides in cities though, here in Skagit County things are happening in a variety of communities. We have elections, an art scene, a bustling agricultural community, and a county made up of strong individuals, each with their own story to be told. 

   Journalists offer that platform to tell those stories. Whether it be through the local newspaper, the nightly news, radio, or social media, the news is all around us and people are tirelessly making sure that it is available to anyone who is interested enough to consume it.

   Now more than ever journalism matters. In the streets of DC as secret meetings take place in ancient buildings, and in the streets of Sedro-Woolley during the annual Christmas tree lighting, the reporters and photographers who are there covering it matter. The information they provide link together communities and the nation through facts and transparency.

Anna Ferdinand
The view of the Capitol building from the Newseum