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West Jordan Journal

Extra! Extra! Experience in journalism

Aug 31, 2017 06:12PM ● By Jana Klopsch

Journalism students Christina Tran and Chasity Mayo attend a national conference to gain extra experience in the field of journalism. (Chasity Mayo)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

Christina Tran, a Copper Hills senior, was one of 250 high school students nominated to attend the Washington Journalism and Media Conference to gain extra experience in journalism. 

“It was six days of pure learning,” said Tran.

Conference workshops challenged students to grow as journalists, to develop decision-making and problem-solving skills and to explore the creative, practical and ethical aspects inherent in journalism and media. 

The conference provided an opportunity for journalism students to network with experts and educators who are influential in the careers they hope to pursue. Workshops consisted of presentations, discussions and role-playing activities led by George Mason University faculty members and industry leaders in communications, media research, new media and electronic journalism as well as representatives from international media outlets and Washington insiders. 

Tran was impressed by presentations given by prominent professionals such as Brain Lamb, the CEO of C-Span, and April Ryan, White House correspondent. 

She said Ryan told students that not everyone can be a journalist.

“April Ryan was amazing and so empowering,” Tran said. “After listening to her speak, I felt like I could do something important with my life—and it didn’t need to involve journalism.”

Students who attended the WJMC were also able to meet other high schoolers from around the country. They shared stories and experiences, as most, like Tran, are already involved in journalism as staff members of their high school newspapers. 

“This experience truly changed my life,” said Tran. “I’ve formed such strong friendships with people I’ve only known for five days.”

The conference was held at George Mason University in Washington, D.C., where students could fit in some sight-seeing between workshops. The conference arranged for groups to tour the U.S. Capitol Building and Smithsonian Museums.

To attend the WJMC, students had to be nominated, having demonstrated an interest in journalism and a good academic standing. 

Tran thinks the conference is a great opportunity for high school students who want to develop their skills and interest in journalism. 

“I feel like I’ve grown so much,” said Tran, who said it was a difficult decision to attend a conference so far away from home. “The most beneficial thing that I’ve learned is that going beyond your comfort zone is a key to personal growth.”

As a junior, Tran, a self-admitted novice writer, wasn’t interested in journalism. She was encouraged by her creative writing teacher, Steve Haslam, to write for the school newspaper. 

 “I was really iffy about it, but I decided to do something new and give it a shot. I’m so glad I did,” Tran said.

She took the opportunity to attend the summer conference to improve her skills and become a better writer for the paper. She also hoped the experience would help her decide if she wants to pursue a career in journalism. 

“I don’t know if Christina will pursue journalism in college or career, but she has become a great journalist both in the field and behind the scenes (editing, production, etc),” said Haslam, who is also adviser for the school paper, the Grizzly Growl. “She became a junior editor after a short time on the staff because of her hard work and willingness to help get things done.”  

Tran’s skills and experience have earned her the position of managing editor on this year’s staff. 

“She is really good at working with others, making sure I and the staff are organized and moving at a decent pace,” said Haslam.

Fellow staff member Chasity Mayo attended the WJMC with Tran this summer, while others, like Autumn Lucas, went to a Journalism Boot Camp held at the University of Utah. 

Having staff members dedicated to improving their skills with extra opportunities has contributed to the success of their award-winning newspaper. 

At the Utah State Scholastic Media Awards in April, the Grizzly Growl earned 17 awards, seven of them First-Place awards. Tran won the First Place award in the Feature Writing category. She also won Third Place for News Writing at the Utah High Schools Futures of Journalism Awards at University of Utah in May where, as a staff, it won six awards.