Alex Gaub and Rob Priewe On 2019 Associated Collegiate Press Midwinter Journalism Convention

The Commuter staff placed in each two-year category at the 2019 Associated Collegiate Press Midwinter National Journalism Convention. The awards granted were second for Website Design and sixth in Overall Print Best of Show.

Alex Gaub, Commuter Editor-In-Chief:

Often when I tell people that I’m a journalism major, I’m met with either interest or disdain. The sense of judgment usually comes from those who perceive the mainstream media as untrustworthy. However, I have also felt judgment towards my passion and chosen field of work by friends and family. Print newspapers are becoming obsolete, and some see my education in such a career as futile– a poor decision, even.

To this I say, “ye of no faith.” Yes, newspapers have seen better days. But, this does not mean journalism is going away.

It would be difficult to look at the many student journalists who gathered for the Associated Collegiate Press convention in La Jolla, California over this past weekend and not see hope in our future. Hearing stories of students covering such tragedies as the shooting at the Borderline Bar and Grill, and the Woolsey Fire, one gets the sense of the passion and camaraderie that resides within the newsroom.

Many professional journalists spoke at the conference, imparting knowledge and hard earned tricks of the trade that they have spent years fostering, upon students eager to listen. There is a palpable devotion to the craft of journalism that these professionals exude, because it is not just a career for them– journalism is their life’s work.

I don’t have to look far in my own life to find the inspiration to stay the course that I’ve charted. With a passionate and dedicated staff, the Commuter brought home two awards at the ACP Midwinter National Journalism Conference– sixth place in overall print and second place in website design; both categories for a two-year school.

Spending time around curious and talented student journalists, I see that future journalists will create for themselves the platforms which they will need to reach their audience– and that stories will continue to be told about important events, places, and people. The industry of journalism may have been upended by current trends, but it will prevail by the coffee stained keyboards, and ink splotched notepads of student reporters.

Column By Alex Gaub

Rob Priewe Commuter Faculty Adviser:

The future of journalism would seem to be in good hands, if you go by the actions and energy of the 400-plus students gathered over the weekend in San Diego for the annual Associated Collegiate Press journalism conference.

Throughout the weekend, the student journalists demonstrated their readiness to take on the challenges of their chosen profession, from overcoming perceptions of “fake news” to delivering timely, high-quality information to diverse audiences who no longer get their news through newspapers and television, but through social media, podcasts and email newsletters.

For student advisors and media professionals closer to retirement than their next career move, it was reassuring to watch younger journalists trading tips and insights with each other as they tackled important stories on subjects ranging from immigration and gun violence to natural disasters and climate change.

During one of the keynote sessions, students at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, described how they met the challenge to keep their emotions in check while covering the death of one of their classmates in the Borderline club shooting in nearby Thousand Oaks. They joined their professional peers in rushing to the scene to report on the tragedy, while balancing their need to gather information with their desire to be sensitive to the victims and families.

They also found themselves in the tricky ethical dilemma of not only working as journalists but also being interview subjects for other media because of their connections to the students caught in the middle of the tragedy.

Ultimately, the student journalists said, they relied on their training to become media professionals and remained committed to “doing the right thing,” backing off when necessary to give their own story subjects room to grieve.

And if that wasn’t enough to test their commitment to journalism, the same weekend their campus faced the onslaught of the Woolsey wildfire, which killed three people and forced the evacuation of about 250,000 residents. While sheltering in place, the student staff of the Pepperdine Graphic continued to inform the campus and surrounding community with the latest news about the fire, its destruction and emergency information.

In both cases, the student journalists worked side by side with their professional counterparts to inform their communities as well as provide information that was picked up and shared with national and international news organizations for which many of the students someday hope to put their journalism training and skills to work.  

Column by Rob Priewe

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