“This Just In!” at FSPA District 7

Nov. 21, 2019  

Young Journalists Learn About Press Conferences, First Amendment and Tough Reporting at FSPA District 7

A student reads her group’s breaking news story during “This Just In!” at the FSPA District 7 workshop.

In its ongoing mission to support student journalists, volunteers from SPJ Florida hosted sessions at the District 7 Fall Workshop of the Florida Scholastic Press Association on Nov. 16.

The annual regional workshop was hosted at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland and students from Broward, Palm Beach and Martin Counties participated.

Christiana Lilly, immediate past president, Dori Zinn, past president, and Kristen Grau, student representative, hosted sessions about reporting on the fly, the First Amendment, and covering tough topics.

Lilly and Zinn lead the workshop “This Just In!,” where students work in groups to write up a breaking news story about celebrities up to no good. They utilized social media posts, asked questions of a police PIO at a mock press conference, got quotes from a witness at the scene, and a last-minute call back from the PIO. In less than an hour, they had their stories ready for publication. The popular session was hosted twice with 75 students participating.

A student reads her group’s defense of a student journalist during “Order in the Court.”

The second session the two hosted was “Order in the Court.” Students were given real Supreme Court cases dealing with the First Amendment rights of American students in history. Breaking up into “law firms,” they represented the student in question and presented it before a judge. Afterward, the rulings of the real case was discussed.

“No one wants to sit through a lecture about interview tips or law briefs, so it’s important that we make the sessions interactive,” Lilly says. “The students are having fun and walk out of the classroom with more experience and facts when we have them engaged.”

Grau and her colleagues from Florida Atlantic University’s University Press newspaper hosted “How to Cover Terrible Stories,” highlighting their experiences covering emotionally charged stories.

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