HomeCampusSandpiper writers reflect on eye-opening experience of Harvard journalism conference

Sandpiper writers reflect on eye-opening experience of Harvard journalism conference

Published Nov. 24, 2020

While many of their peers were unwinding from another week of distance learning, five members of the Carmel Sandpiper staff spent the weekend of Nov. 14-15 participating in the Harvard Fall Journalism Conference. During the two-day event facilitated by the editors of The Harvard Crimson, the independent student newspaper for the Harvard University community, these Sandpiper writers participated in discussions and were privy to expert panels addressing a wide range of topics in the field of journalism.

Tell us a bit about the overall experience.

Alicia Krueger, editor-in-chief: Essentially, we were given a glimpse into the inner workings of a large publication, which was especially interesting because The Sandpiper has a total of 14 reporters, so we definitely are not large. The conference was super inspiring both in terms of how we can better our own publication and what I get to look forward to participating in next year and beyond.

Riley Palshaw, staff writer: Going into the conference, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but I found it engaging and well organized. We got to listen to several seminars that covered all aspects of journalism from investigations to photojournalism to setting up the initial interview. There was something for everyone, no matter your interest. 

Kea Yengst, staff writer: Some seminars would be similar to slideshow presentations with note-taking, while others would be focused on discussions of topics like different types of journalism or how to contact a source. 

Sophia Bone, staff writer: I had a great experience with the conference! The Crimson writers did a great job engaging everyone even over a screen. As a first-year journalism student, I gained valuable information about where the path of journalism can take me. 

Emma Brown, staff writer: The conference was split into different seminars about different aspects of journalism. At The Sandpiper, writers do not specialize in a particular beat…so getting to go more into depth about all of these different aspects of journalism that I’ve really only scratched the surface of was really interesting.

So what did you find most valuable about the conference?

Palshaw: It was incredibly valuable to have writers from the Crimson run this conference. Yeah it would be cool to just hear about the newspaper, but getting to dive into journalism with people who are writing in college was an amazing experience. 

Brown: For me, the seminar “Breaking into Journalism” was my favorite part of the conference. Professional journalists spoke to the group about how to become a journalist after high school, and it provided a lot of insight as to what I might do in the future.

Bone: I enjoyed the seminars with past Crimson writers and professional journalists who write for CNN, the Economist and the Wall Street Journal. 

Krueger: I found that hearing from real professionals, who were not always exactly succeeding in the field, gave a real experience as to what it’s like to be a journalist and make your living off of it. Talking to such individuals allowed me to understand both the incredible rewards that come from the field and also the hardships because it isn’t always easy. 

What was it like to meet other high school students with an interest in journalism?

Yengst: Meeting other high school students from a plethora of different backgrounds and locations was intriguing, especially with the fact that everyone shared a common interest in journalism. I was able to meet some amazing people from all across the country, and even got to chat with them in private Zoom chats during the conference. 

Bone: I often heard other people asking the same questions that I was thinking and agreeing with comments people made. 

Palshaw: It was really cool to be surrounded by other students who share the same interests as you, looking at the screen and knowing that every single one of these people want to be there and pursue journalism, or at the very least feel passionate towards it. 

Brown: Our staff is relatively small, so there’s not a huge population at CHS who has an interest in what we love to do, so talking to other students who love journalism was really an amazing and eye-opening experience as to how big the news world is.

Krueger: Part of me has loved the community of journalists just as much as I love the subject of journalism. You will never have a boring conversation with a journalist and this really proved itself true during this conference. 

What’s one insight you gained from the conference? Something that maybe changed your view about journalism?

Bone: When the Crimson writers reflected on stories where they have gotten threatening calls from famous actors after their reviews and that people have tried to sue them, it really brings into focus how you never know how far your story can go. While this may seem scary, it is actually really exciting that your words can have such an impact on people and that means that you have to be responsible for what you report on. 

Yengst: I learned that being a journalist is not a typical 9-to-5 job. Journalists have to be on lookout for potential segments, significant people and events at all times, even while they are not in the office.

Brown: What really resonated with me was how much gets put into producing a newspaper. Obviously, we see that when we put together our monthly issue, but daily newspapers like The Crimson have reporters who are constantly pumping out new stories. Not only that, they cover so much information about such a wide range of topics. I definitely have a greater appreciation for papers like The New York Times and how hard their staff must work.

Palshaw: I don’t think I realized how much work a daily newspaper could be until I attended this conference. Hearing people from different departments of The Crimson talk about their daily duties and some of the projects they get tasked with provided some really great insight. It was equally eye-opening to hear these reporters talk about the real-world consequences they’ve faced while writing for The Crimson. Journalists report stories people might not always want printed, and I don’t think that sunk in until going to this conference. 
Krueger: Something we don’t really get to do at The Sandpiper is follow a specific story [in depth] or even a beat and the seminar “Breaking into Journalism” had journalists speaking about their experience in both of these areas. For example, one of the journalists followed the impeachment trials of President Trump and was writing and publishing articles on this one topic for months. I find this fascinating and, given that I knew very little about it, was intrigued by the idea that journalists can and do become experts in an area of investigation. I love this idea and love that I’ll never be bored, that’s for sure!

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    This article shows how much these young ladies received in return for giving up a weekend. It sounds like a fantastic experience!

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