At a recent in-person journalism conference, morale was high but fears about the future persisted


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Last weekend I had the good fortune to attend the Associated Collegiate Press conference in Long Beach, California. (Thanks to all the folks gathering this weekend in New York for the College Media Association conference — my fomo is real!)

To be back in person was, in a word, badass. (I guess those are two words. I support them.)

I felt completely rejuvenated to get together in real life with students, teachers, and counselors. I could almost feel my little cup filling and overflowing as I led a session on managing your friends in the newsroom, and also as I passed the podium to the students I worked with on diversity systems, equity and inclusion in college newsrooms.

But – to borrow a header from Axios – but but.

The experiences that stood out to me the most came from the dozens of students who came forward seeking advice on dealing with stress, burnout and trauma, and their counselors, who came together to bleed during another session in a small hotel conference room.

It seems everyone in academic journalism is struggling.

A student cried when she spoke respectfully of her adviser and didn’t want to disappoint him, but felt so overwhelmed that she feared that was all she was – a disappointment. Other students deeply regretted missed opportunities and talked about thinking about what might have happened if they had just pursued an angle for the past two years, which they just didn’t feel up to. at the time.

Meanwhile, their advisors (many of whom are also professors) have spoken of a marked difference in their students this semester. They are less engaged and less ambitious — and advisors don’t necessarily blame them. They just don’t know what to do to rekindle the fire in their students’ bellies. Worse still, what if professors and counselors lower certain standards in the interests of empathy, but end up doing students a disservice in the long run?

The irony is that students and professionals alike were clearly excited and energized by being in person and coming together with like-minded people. The counselor’s happy hour was a highlight and I saw many students leaning forward in their seats with special attention. Heads nodded. People were laughing freely. The questions were many.

It was a dream crowd, in many ways, that has now returned to campus to face harsh realities in their newsrooms, dorms, and bedrooms.

I watch with interest as this part of our world tries to return to normal – though I suspect it will never be the same again.

What have you seen from the students that gives you hope or crushes your ambitions? Do you agree with my assessment of college newsrooms in spring 2022? Do you have ideas or practical advice? I would love to hear from those of you who are struggling, thriving, or reborn.

Know that you are not alone. Together we can work to improve our lives and our jobs. I hope you enjoy some free time this month, and I encourage you to be a little lazy if possible. Read a book that has been on your list for too long. Watch basketball and cheer on an underdog team you’ve never heard of. Drink more water. 🙂

Speaking of spring break, I’ll be mostly off this week, so your next newsletter should arrive on March 27. Happy spring and hang in there! You’re not alone.

Have you heard of our headliners?

Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, the New York Times reporters who won a Pulitzer for breaking the Harvey Weinstein scandal and starting the #MeToo movement, will zoom in. They have written a companion volume to their book ‘She Said’, a guide for student journalists who wish to pursue a career in investigative journalism – and everyone who comes to Teacha will receive a copy.

If you’re about to attend, consider my introduction to the joys of meeting in person and note that you’ll get a great free book with tons of in-class lessons. What’s left to decide? Apply now to reserve your spot! Of course, we also offer a virtual version — it’s a win-win whether you’re in person or not.

Speaking of sales, we had several candidates for our personalized Diversity Across the Curriculum session held the day before Teacha. Applications are due this week on March 15, so if you’ve been thinking about it, now is the time to act. Plus, you’ll get $100 off your Teacha tuition if you attend both.

DATC teaches journalism educators practical tips and techniques to infuse their classrooms with best practices in diversity, equity and inclusion; and gives you the tools and communication skills to pass on your wisdom to the rest of your faculty to have a lasting impact on the program.

We still have a few spots left for campus correspondents to visit your classrooms this semester. Register for a seat here.

This week, we featured “What Student-Focused Outlets Learned From Publishing During COVID,” in which we featured a high school, college, and newsletter writer who produces content for students.

Subscribe to The Lead, Poynter’s weekly newsletter for student journalists, and encourage your students to do the same.

We’ll join the rest of the world in discussing the image taken by Lynsey Addario and published in The New York Times. How do publishers make hard calls around graphic images? Check out the Professor’s Press Pass – just $12 a month or $100 a year for a new case study in journalism ethics and business each week. It’s perfect for your college classroom.

The meme mission.

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