How to make the most of the Mega Workshop

You’ve signed up for the College Media Mega Workshop, you’ve booked your flights and you’re ready to learn.

But you probably have a few questions — what should you bring? what will it be like? and what makes it so “mega,” anyway?

For all your logistical travel and lodging questions, visit the College Media Mega Workshop website, where you’ll find lists of dorm room do’s and don’ts, maps and more.

As for what makes this convention so big: It’s the first year we’ve combined the forces of ACP, the College Media Association, College Broadcasters, Inc., and College Media Business and Advertising Managers.

That means that while you’re delving deep into your specialized workshop, you’ll be surrounded by some of the brightest students in college media — ones who are similar to you, but also ones who excel in different fields, from design to sports reporting.

It also means you’ll have dozens of experienced advisers and professionals who can help you and your publication improve in a variety of ways.

If that sounds overwhelming, don’t worry — we’ve got a few tips for making the most of this experience.

Articulate your goals

Chances are, you’re already thinking about what you’d like to accomplish this year. That’s great! Attending this workshop is the first step toward achieving those goals. Try to pinpoint exactly what you want to learn and write it down. One study found that people who regularly wrote down their goals were 42 percent more likely to achieve them. It certainly can’t hurt.

Talk about these goals with your team, and check in each day to see what each of you learned, how you can apply it to your organization and what questions you still have.

Take notes

You’re going to get a ton of information at this workshop — probably more than you can remember. Improve your chances of retaining all the tips you learn by bringing a notebook and pen and simply writing them down. (Plus, this is a great place to write down your goals and review them before sessions start.)

Use whatever note-taking method works for you, whether that’s writing quotes, pictures or bullet points. Record anything that stands out to you. The sessions can move fast, and with so much happening each day, you’re far more likely to remember information if you’re putting it on paper.

Write down how things can apply to you as you think of them. Jot down ideas and questions as they come to you. Use the notebook as inspiration throughout the school year, when you feel stressed or stuck. You might remember something brilliant you learned at the Mega Workshop.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Workshops can certainly be intimidating, but don’t let that hold you back from getting what you need. Don’t be afraid to ask the convention staff for directions or recommendations, and take advantage of one-on-one training opportunities.

You’re here to push your organization into excellence, so make sure to ask for the advice and instruction you need.

Branch out

It’s easy to stick with your close-knit group of friends from the newsroom, but we can’t stress enough how important it is to spark conversations and connections with other student journalists. Chat with your peers during session breaks, or grab lunch with a new group. Vent about your frustrations, work to find solutions to common problems and pick their brains — some newsrooms do things totally differently, and another student might have the answer to the problem you’ve been facing. All you have to do is ask.

So get excited to learn, meet some of the brightest students in college media and get inspired to tackle the year ahead.

And practically speaking, here’s what you need to bring (and what you shouldn’t):

What to bring

Everyone:

  • Money for food. All meals are on your own. Feel free to bring snacks.
  • A notebook/pen or laptop for note-taking
  • Resumes, portfolios, links to personal websites, etc. if you’d like to have them critiqued
  • Extra copies of your publication for exchange throughout the weekend
  • Charging cords for your computer and phone
  • Light sweater or jacket in case the rooms get cold

Ad Rep Boot Camp:

  • Copy of your media kit/rate card
  • Three regular newspaper editions
  • 1-2 special sections

Advisers:

  • Smartphone
  • “May the Facts Be With You” T-shirt, if you’ve purchased one

Broadcast Management:

  • Portable recording device of your choice

Design/Redesign:

  • Packaged (with fonts and images) InDesign files and PDFs of past published pages
  • Font files you are considering for your redesign
  • USB flash drive
  • Laptop with Adobe Creative Suite installed, if you have one

Digital Journalism:

  • Recording/reporting device(s) you are most comfortable with (smartphone, DSLR camera, audio recorder, video camera, etc.)

Editorial Leadership:

  • Copies of your publications for critique and to show

Sports Reporting:

  • Laptop
  • Smartphone

Visual Storytelling:

  • DSLR camera and lenses
  • Smartphone
  • Laptop with Adobe Photoshop and Bridge (or other photo editing software) installed
  • USB flash drive

Dorm Rooms:

  • A photo ID (will be needed to check into the dorms)
  • Personal care items, such as shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, etc.
  • Small carrying case or plastic bucket to carry toiletries
  • Flip-flops for shower
  • Clothes hangers
  • Laundry bag and detergent (if you plan to do laundry)
  • Alarm clock

What not to bring

  • Towels or bedding (these are provided)
  • Pillow
  • Guns, ammunition or any other weapons or firecrackers
  • Electrical appliances or cooking appliances
  • Multiple outlet (octopus) power strips
  • Candles and candle warmers, incense, hookah or any other materials that have the potential for an open flame

Keynoter Frank LoMonte on free speech and the state of student media

Frank LoMonte should have good news to report when he gives the keynote address for the College Media Mega Workshop on July 13.

There’s a new victory for the New Voices project, a grassroots movement that fights for free speech protection for student journalists above what the First Amendment provides. Rhode Island’s legislature passed the New Voices bill protecting its student journalists on June 30, and now it’s just awaiting the governor’s approval.

Frank LoMonte

That makes 13 states with similar laws, a feat that’s been achieved in just a few years, says LoMonte, who serves as the executive director of the Student Press Law Center. We recently chatted with him about his work, his upcoming keynote and the future of First Amendment rights for student journalists. (This interview has been lightly edited.)

ACP: For anyone who might not be familiar, can you tell me little bit about what SPLC does?

LoMonte: SPLC is a nonprofit advocacy organization that’s been around since 1974 with the mission of providing legal support to people working in student journalism. The work of SPLC falls into two main issue areas: freedom of the press and openness in government. We provide support to the student media both to help them protect their right to publish and also to help them get access to the records and meetings and sources that they need.

Great. And you’ll be giving the keynote at the College Media Mega Workshop — what are you planning on talking about there?

Well, I do think that for sure I’ll highlight some of the successes and opportunities going around the country with New Voices. It’s a very exciting time of opportunity, and it’s some good news amidst a lot of discouraging news for people in media. There’s certainly a lot of negativity around our industry, both economically and in terms of the level of public hostility being voiced, but New Voices is a good news story in that it shares that there’s still a broad recognition that journalism education has value and that it’s worth protecting.

I don’t think it’s possible to give a talk about news media to a room full of journalists today without mentioning what’s going on on the national scene. It is a perilous time for public support of quality journalism, and I think it’s our obligation to find ways to make that case better than we have been.

And that starts with working across the curriculum at colleges and high schools to incorporate the consumption of news into people’s everyday routines. That’s my soapbox issue, and it’s going to be my soapbox issue for the rest of my career. We’ve got to get young people consuming and discussing and sharing high-quality journalism, because otherwise we will lose the market that sustains journalism as an industry.

Definitely, I totally agree. Can you tell me a little bit about the origins of the New Voices project and the journey to this point?

The roots go all the way back to 1988, when the Supreme Court decided the Hazelwood decision, which drastically reduced the constitutional protection of journalism in schools. There was an immediate reaction among the journalism education world, but the progress pretty much stopped for a decade between 2005 and 2015. We saw a handful of bills proposed that went nowhere, and I think you can blame a lot of different factors, but I think the single biggest factor was the explosion of social media. There was kind of a national sense of panic that kids were abusing social media to bully and threaten each other, and it was just impossible for a very long time to have a rational conversation about the rights of young people when the national dialogue was consumed by this narrative about online bullying.

That seems to have died down a bit, and it’s now possible to have that conversation. So in 2015, some advocates at the University of Jamestown got together and drafted what became the New Voices of North Dakota Act. I don’t think a lot of people gave them very good odds of succeeding, but they went about it very methodically and with great determination, and were able to get the bill passed unanimously with bipartisan support.

That was a wakeup call for the entire rest of the country, and people started ringing our phones off the hook asking if their state could be next. That ignited a national movement for advocates in journalism and education and law and in civics to get together and rally around student journalists. Since North Dakota, we’ve seen bills passed in Illinois, Maryland, Vermont, Nevada and now Rhode Island. So that’s a lot of progress after being stalled for a very long and frustrating time.

That’s incredible. Is there anything that students in college media can do to get involved in the project?

The single biggest thing is to make sure to call out and publicize really outlandish instances of censorship. Where these bills have failed is often where people are not convinced that they have a serious problem in their own states. So we have to document times when people are threatened or intimidated out of covering legitimate news stories. We have to bring the instances to widespread public attention and make the case for why stronger legal protection is needed. So that’s the single biggest thing, to bring those stories to light and amplify that.

Beyond that, in every state so far, we have found that the most persuasive voices in front of legislature committees have been students. The legislators most want to look students in the eye and make sure they’re trustworthy. You’re asking adult authority figures to give over a lot of control to young people, and those young people need to reassure their legislators that they can handle that. So I think that’s the secret weapon in every state, to have really serious and impressive young people come talk about how they formulate their newspapers. When legislators see that, that student journalists take this work very seriously and very professionally, then it’s a lot easier to win their trust.

That’s really interesting. And you normally give a few sessions other than the keynote you’re giving this year. What can we expect from you?

I’m going to do a program for broadcasters, where we’re going to focus both on copyright and the use of music in broadcast and what is and isn’t permissible, and then also look at managing the website that accompanies your broadcast station. Almost every college broadcaster now has a digital presence, and I think it’s important for everybody that’s publishing online to know about state and legal publishing practices. We’ve had so many unfortunate cases of people being threatened with copyright infringement lawsuits recently, so I think you can’t overemphasize good, safe copyright practices. So that’s going to be a big focus.

And I usually bring some examples, and I will again this year, of interesting stories that student journalists have done using public records laws to try to inspire people to take advantage of those laws. There are a lot of tools at your disposal if you know where to look. Having been a reporter as well as a practicing attorney, I have a lot of experience working with those laws, and I really enjoy working through those problems with journalists, trying to help them get better access.

One overriding message is that colleges are way more secretive and more image-conscious than they’ve ever been before, and it’s harder than ever to pry information loose. You’ve got to be a really aggressive user of open government laws and learn not to take no for an answer. So that’s going to be a big focus of my remarks.

See Frank LoMonte’s keynote at the College Media Mega Workshop on July 13. If you’d like to support SPLC or get involved, visit splc.org.

5 things to do in Minneapolis

If you’ve never been to Minneapolis, you’re in for an adventure. The Twin Cities area is beautiful, green and lively, and you’re sure to find something fun to do.

Most of your time will be spent learning and applying those skills to real-life projects, whether that’s taking photos out on the town or working on a redesign. But the evenings are free for you to explore the city, meet your fellow workshop attendees and enjoy the Minneapolis sights.

For those of you staying on campus, there’s an activity lounge in the dorm — but here are a few ideas for exploring outside.

Wander the University of Minnesota

The University of Minnesota campus.
The University of Minnesota campus. | Photo by August Schwerdfeger/Creative Commons

The campus is beautiful, with gardens, a bowling alley, a bookstore and museums. Goldy’s Gameroom is open until 10 p.m., and it serves food and drinks. If you’re looking for a more educational activity, the Weisman Art Museum is open until 5 p.m. (There are also plenty of quiet corners around campus if you need to recharge.)

Get lost at the Mall of America

The Mall of America theme park
The Mall of America features an amusement park in the middle. | Photo by Aina/Creative Commons

If you’ve got time for a train ride, visit the largest mall in the United States. You could spend hours wandering its 3 million square feet of retail space — oh, and the amusement park … and the aquarium. The Mall of America is about an hour away using the light rail that runs through Minnesota. Just remember to grab a map or download the app.

Walk the Stone Arch bridge

Stone Arch Bridge
The Stone Arch Bridge runs over the Mississippi River. | Photo by Eric Kilby/Creative Commons

This historic bridge over the Mississippi River was built in 1883. You can go full tourist and take a Segway tour, or just walk or bike across and enjoy the view of St. Anthony’s Falls.

Visit the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

The Minneapolis Scuplture Garden. | Photo by Amber Billings

Less than 30 minutes away from campus lies a whimsical garden full of giant statues, including a giant spoon. It’s about 25 minutes by bus, and even quicker if you use Uber or Lyft. The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is open every day from 6 a.m. to midnight.

Munch on late-night snacks

Insomnia Cookies
Insomnia Cookies delivers dessert until 3 a.m. | Photo by Carl Lender/Creative Commons

OK, it might not be the healthiest activity, but there are plenty of late-night food options in Minneapolis. You can get warm cookies delivered to you from Insomnia Cookies until 3 a.m., or get your pizza fix at Mesa Pizza near campus, open until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Still stumped for ideas? Feel free to ask your workshop leaders or the convention staff for their favorite spots around the city. And have fun!