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Cronkite School Partners on High School Convention

April 19, 2009

Thousands of aspiring young journalists and their teachers gathered recently in downtown Phoenix for the largest high school journalism conference in the country.

The annual spring convention of the Journalism Education Association and the National Scholastic Press Association featured workshops, speakers and contests for about 3,000 high school students and about 500 of their advisers.

A number of the events were held at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s new facility on Arizona State University’s Downtown Phoenix Campus. In addition, nearly two dozen Cronkite faculty and staff participated in the conference. The school hosted a reception for high school advisers, and students and staff led multiple tours of the school.

“The support of the Cronkite School was instrumental in making this convention one of the best conventions we’ve ever had,” said Linda Puntney, executive director of JEA. “We’ve never been in a position before where we could offer the educational opportunities the Cronkite School allowed … and we were delighted with the amazing facility the Cronkite School offered.”

Aaron Brown, the Walter Cronkite professor of journalism, kicked off the convention with a keynote address on April 16 during which he urged students to ignore those who tell them they should have “a Plan B.” “There’s only Plan A,” he said. “Do what you dream of doing.”

Other featured speakers, workshop leaders and panelists from the Cronkite School included Assistant Professor Serena Carpenter; Associate Professors Carol Schwalbe and Bill Silcock; Carnegie Professor of Journalism Rick Rodriguez; Cronkite News Service Directors Steve Elliott and Susan Green; Director of the New Media Innovation Lab Retha Hill; Frank Russell Chair of Journalism Tim McGuire; Knight Chair in Journalism Steve Doig; Lecturer Amanda Crawford; News Director Mark Lodato; Production Specialist Brian Snyder; Student Media Director Jason Manning; Faculty Associate Jennifer Johnson; and Cronkite student Amanda Chan.

Anita Luera, director of the Cronkite Institute for High School Journalism, and Dave Cornelius, director of the school’s Stardust High School Journalism Program, helped plan the conference and conducted workshops.

In addition, Cornelius mentored a group of high school students who covered the convention, posting stories, video, blogs and photos on a convention Web site. It was the first time the convention featured an online multimedia daily.

In her final blog, Emily Phillips, a student at Arcadia High School in Phoenix and co-editor of the convention website, wrote, “Despite long hours, stressful scheduling and a lack of sleep, we have learned some valuable lessons — like how to write on a short deadline and how to produce a video in less than two hours.”

She said the highlight of the experience for her, however, was interviewing former CNN anchor Brown about his experiences as a broadcast journalist and his advice for aspiring high school journalists. “It was truly a unique experience,” she said.

The JEA, founded in 1924, is the only independent national scholastic journalism organization for teachers and advisers. It has 2,100 members, including journalism teachers and publications advisers, media professionals, press associations, adviser organizations, libraries, yearbook companies, newspapers, radio stations and departments of journalism.

The NSPA, founded in 1921, is nonprofit organization that offers resources to help improve high school and other secondary school publications, including yearbooks, newspapers, magazines, broadcast programs and online publications.