SPJ Florida board and chapter members volunteered their Saturday to educate middle and high school journalists about the field with interactive presentations during the District 7 conference for the Florida Scholastic Press Association.
Held at Nova Southeastern University, the conference was attended by more than 650 students from Broward, Palm Beach and Martin Counties.
The chapter’s sessions included a mock press conference, where students practiced asking a PIO questions about a story involving a celebrity’s weekend gone awry, as well as session that discussed the First Amendment. In this interactive class, students were challenged to tackle three real Supreme Court cases that involved student journalists — Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, Bethel v. Fraser, and Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District — and defend the students in a mock courtroom. After they presented their cases, students learned the real outcome of the cases — and it wasn’t always in their favor!
“That was one of my favorite sessions to host,” said Christiana Lilly, SPJ Florida president. “We showed them how students no older than they are stood up for their First Amendment rights in landmark cases that they are still impacted by today. You’re never too young to speak your mind and report the truth.”
Kerri-Marie Covington, SPJ Florida student representative, used her experience as a student journalist to talk about newsroom management.
“Seeing young, dedicated journalists show up early in the morning to learning management tips in an effort to improve their newsroom really gives me hope for the future of the industry.”
Other sessions included using how to use drones in your reporting, making the jump from high school to college, and web design.
The board didn’t forget about the teachers attending, and it hosted an intimate adviser meetup to talk about the different opportunities available to them, including the high school newsroom grant, and to talk about issues that arise in the classroom. Board of Directors Aurora Dominguez and Chris Delboni, both educators, were able to relate firsthand.
“The meeting was full of camaraderie and it was enjoyable to exchange ideas with other educators,” Dominguez said. “I feel like it’s so important to educate future journalist and the educators forging their paths. “