Columbia journalism convention inspires Youngtown members

BY KAITLYN ALEGRIA
Managing Edittor

The Columbia Scholastic Press Association welcomed students involved in literacy publications and their faculty advisers to Columbia University March 19-21 for the 90th time. The three-day program offered 317 sessions exploring the purposes and values used by journalists, according to the CSPA advisory program on Columbia University’s webpage. 

“What didn’t I learn there?” Jordan Barth remarked, senior editor of The Youngtown Edition. “There were tons of presentations that were given by people all around the country. Stuff about layouts, there was stuff about content and feature writing, stuff about advertising and moving to digital. You name it… they probably had a session on it.” 

The Youngtown Edition’s editor in chief, business manager and managing editors were all invited to the convention at Columbia University, according to Barth. The sessions were available to those interested in work with newspapers, yearbooks, magazines, broadcast and digital media. 

“The biggest impact on me was seeing all these high school papers that are not only kicking our a**** in terms of content, in terms of layout and everything, but are far better than my high school paper,” Barth said. 

The Youngtown staff went to five different workshops each. Since there were several options to choose from, the staff members split up, according to Barth. 

“The ‘Shocking! People Actually Read Your Newspaper’ workshop was my favorite,” Barth said. “I believe it was St. Mark’s School of Texas. They have a really professional organization down there. Some of the writings that they put up on the PowerPoint were just amazing… It was that sensory detail writing that gets on the front page of newspapers.” 

The speaker, Ray Westbrook, offered tips on how to develop articles that people will actually want to read.

Melissa Dellacato, editor in chief of The Youngtown Edition, is planning on using her experiences to change the layout of CCM’s newspaper.

“We went to a lot of different lectures,” Dellacato said. “We want to try to improve the paper with [what we learned from] the sessions we went to… I saw from the Advanced InDesign session some techniques that I want to try as long as there aren’t any ethical issues with it.”

Dellacato said she learned some shortcuts to InDesign and creative ways to manipulate pictures. 

Dellacato also went to a session called “You Sound, Like, Um… Stupid? Ya Know?” with speaker Jacob Palenske. The session was about how the way a journalist interviews an individual is as important as the questions being asked. If the interviewer uses filler words, it might not result in good answers from a source.

“Our generation tends to use filler words when we are talking,” Dellacato said. “Words like ‘um, like, you know’… I know personally because I use fillers a lot. I’ve been trying to stop doing that.” 

The convention was all about learning about journalism through speakers, good fellowship and the atmosphere, according to the CSPA advisory program. The student journalists have taken this opportunity to learn from the speakers and others that were around them. The staff’s experience at the event has its members thrilled to continue improving CCM’s newspaper, experimenting on new ideas and ways on laying out the paper.

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