Publications attend NSPA convention


By Alex Leichenger

Members of the school newspaper and yearbook visited the floor of the House of Representatives and sat in on a Page 1 meeting of the New York Times during their trip to Washington D.C. for a national high school journalism conference Nov. 12-14.

The National Scholastic Press Association and Journalism Education Association Fall Student Journalism Convention attracted 33 Members of the staffs of Chornicle and Vox and over 6,000 total. Students were joined by faculty members Kathleen Neumeyer and Jennifer Bladen as well as Advancement Officer Ed Hu and Stephen Chae, advisor for the middle school newsmagazine The Spectrum.

At the closing ceremony of the convention, the 2008-2009 edition of The Chronicle won a National Pacemaker award and the November issue of the 2009-2010 edition won first place in the Best of Show competition for newspapers larger than 17 pages. The Spectrum was awarded third place Best of Show for middle school newspapers and Big Red, a sports magazine produced by staffers on The Chronicle, earned ninth place Best of Show for Newspaper Special Edition. The Chronicle website was recognized as the seventh best in the nation.

During their first day in Washington, students visited the Newseum for three hours before leaving for Capitol Hill. The group was led on a tour of the Capitol Building by Michael Borden ’95, Senior Counsel to the House Finance Committee and former editor-in-chief of The Chronicle. After seeing the offices of congressmen and the rotunda, students were led to the floor of the House of Representatives. Borden and two congressional aides gave a brief presentation and answered questions about the history of both the room itself and the congressmen who have debated in it.

In the last segment of the Capitol tour, students were granted access to the balcony directly outside Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s office.

Some participants in the trip opted to visit Georgetown University with Hu and Chae, a Georgetown alum. The group was toured on campus by current Georgetown students Mark Doumet ’07 and Chris Ballard ’08.

Journalist Nick Clooney delivered the keynote address at the formal opening of the convention that evening.

Seminars for student journalists and advisers began Friday morning, covering multiple facets of a publication such as layout and page design, interviewing, reporting and media ethics. Sessions were available on Friday and Saturday. Friday afternoon’s keynote speakers were Peter Baker, a Washington bureau reporter for the New York Times, and his wife, Susan Glasser of Foreign Policy Magazine.

The group later toured the Washington bureau courtesy of Times staff writer Elisabeth Bumiller and husband Steven R. Weisman, a friend of Donald Etra (Harry ’05, Dorothy ’08, Anna ’10, and Jonathan ’11, all former or current members of either The Chronicle or Vox).

Courtesy of Washington bureau chief Dean Baquet, a neighbor of Vox’s Ali Nadel ’11 while he was editor-in-chief of the Los Angeles Times, the students were able to sit in on the Page 1 meeting for the Nov. 14 issue of the New York Times. Baquet pitched a story from his bureau about Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to prosecute Guantanamo Bay detainees suspected of involvement in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York. The article, by Charlie Savage, appeared on the front page the next day.

Following the final seminars and awards ceremony Saturday, the group visited the capital’s landmarks, including the White House, the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam and Korean War memorials.