Journalism students attend SPJ MediaFest conference

Monday, November 14, 2022 - 1:15pm

Reflection by Caitlyn Thomas

Thanks to a generous donation from the Deepe family, the UNL chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists was able to take 18 members to MediaFest in D.C.

MediaFest was hosted by the Society of Professional Journalists, but also invited members from the Associated Collegiate Press and the College Media Association.

This trip was an amazing experience to network and connect with other student journalists across the country, as well as professionals already in the industry.

From breakout sessions hosted by established journalists in every facet of media, to keynote presentations from legendary reporters, MediaFest had something for every student to learn more about their passions.

Woodward and Berstein talk

Some of the speakers included Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein; the reporters that investigated the Watergate scandal, John Quinones, investigative reporter and host of the show What Would You Do, Bill Whitaker, a reporter and correspondent for CBS’ 60 Minutes, Pauly Denetclaw, a political correspondent for Indian Country Today, and so many others.

“I loved having the opportunity to meet industry professionals and the ability to get to know them better,” Gus Wenke Kathol said. “I was able to meet with some of the top people in the broadcasting industry that will really help me put my best foot forward when I start submitting applications in the next few months. I think all of the students enjoyed it. I loved seeing the excitement on everyone's faces when getting to meet people like John Quinones or Woodward and Bernstein.”

D.C. is rich with history, and we made sure to use our free time to explore the city and check out all the museums and monuments.

“The trip had many highlights, like visiting the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Washington Memorial, the Library of Congress, and the brilliantly bright White House,” Joseph Zakaria said.

It was also an amazing experience to hear from so many journalists of diverse backgrounds and hear their stories and advice for young journalists.

I was elated to see and meet many Black and African American journalists in every market,” Zakaria said. “I saw myself in them, which motivated and assured me that I could attain my dreams and aspirations.”

By far one of the best parts of this trip was getting to be around our classmates and foster relationships with those that have the same passions as us. It brought a lot of us really close together and we have found people that support our goals and aspirations.

Most of all, I am happy that I connected with my classmates and shared this wonderful experience with them. I also made new friends at other universities around the country, which is very exciting,” Zakaria said. “I am grateful to the College of Journalism and Mass Communications for giving us this opportunity.”