If there’s a line from a song that sums up MediaFest22, it’s got to be this one from the 1979 hit by R&B duo Peaches & Herb: Reunited and it feels so good …
After two virtual conferences, more than 700 SPJ members gathered in the nation’s capital for three days of camaraderie, connections and collaboration. Fist bumps were de rigueur; hugs were optional.
“It’s great to meet you — in person!” was heard frequently in the lobby and three subterranean levels of the Grand Hyatt on H Street. Seeing a fellow member in the flesh is a lot different from seeing them in a Zoom frame.
We enjoyed the company and energy of 1,100 college students and advisers, all here with the co-sponsoring organizations the College Media Association and the Associated Collegiate Press.
We sat together, learned together and inspired each other in more than 250 concurrent sessions, and rubbed elbows with journalism giants Roland Martin, Bill Whittaker, John Quiñones and Watergate reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.
“We need to show up — we are not showing up enough,” Woodward counseled the crowd during a conference keynote, adding that too many journalists are just mailing it in.
Four new members were elected to the national board: Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins, vice president; Israel Balderas, secretary/treasurer; and Kevin Smith and Adam Sennott, at-large directors.
Four Regional Coordinators were also elected: Chris Vaccaro, Region 1; Ginny McCabe, Region 4; Nicole DeCriscio Bowe, Region 5; and McKenzie Romero, Region 9.
SPJ is in good hands with their leadership.
Everyone who made it to D.C. has a MediaFest moment to remember. Here are six that stand out:
Pavlina Osta: “It was special to hear the SPJ Fellows tell their stories. They gave the next generation in-depth reasons to pursue journalism, and motivated me to change the world in whatever way I can through the power of journalism.”
Sonny Albarado: “My absolute favorite moment was seeing so many young journalists in attendance. Having a joint conference with CMA and ACP was a brilliant idea, and I hope SPJ can continue that partnership going forward. The opening night reception was one of the best ever.”
Saraya Wintersmith: “I attended the conference as part of the Dori Maynard Diversity Leadership Program. One of my favorite moments was a one-on-one chat with Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins. She took the time to mentor me and give me positive
encouragement about my career insecurities.”
Nicolle Sartain: “Working with students in the SPJ newsroom brought many moments of joy. Seeing them all jump into action reinvigorated my own passion for the job. They are the future of our industry and I loved being able to watch those moments all weekend long.”
Rod Hicks: “I got to see the convention from two perspectives — as an SPJ staff member and as a panelist/moderator. It was a privilege to hear journalism icons Woodward and Bernstein give details of their Watergate work. Each of the SPJ Fellows had their own interesting stories; their messages of hard work were good for the students to hear.”
Nicole DeCriscio Bowe: “I was able to meet folks in person that I’ve only talked to in emails and seen on Zoom. Doing so while also seeing old friends was a blast.”
If you missed the D.C. conference, look ahead to Las Vegas, where SPJ will take over Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino from Sept. 28-Oct. 1, 2023.
On a personal note …
Until two years ago when I joined the national board as at-large director, my SPJ career was laser-focused on the New York Deadline Club. That’s how it starts for many of us, at the chapter or community level where we learn, bond, collaborate and grow.
It’s a privilege and a pleasure to put my experience to work as our organization’s 106th president. I’d like to thank Rebecca Aguilar for her strong leadership, and for helping me prepare for this role.
I look forward to hearing from you, working with you, brainstorming with you, visiting with you. Stay tuned for a great SPJ year
Claire Regan, 2022-23 national SPJ president, is an assistant professor of journalism at Wagner College in New York City.
Tagged under: MediaFest22