This is the first time I’ve been to New York City, so I’m still a bit dazed by it all. Every time I step outside into the car horns and walls of light, the smells of street food and exhaust, executives in tailored suits and construction crews in knit caps, I just kind of dissolve into it all. It’s all imposing and all strange. You know a place is strange when you can walk a couple of blocks and see twelve-storey LCD women walking toward you to advertise clothes.
Last night, Nancy (our adviser) took a few of us who had never been to New York to see some of the landmarks in Midtown – Times Square, Rockefeller Center, those places you see in movies. This evening, a few of the others staffers and I walked to Central Park and down 5th Avenue for some of the tradition and glitz of the city.
Since I experience culture (and life in general) through food, I’ve been trying to eat lots of quintessential New York dishes. For dinner, I couldn’t decide between a big greasy slice of New York pizza and a heaping plate of chicken and rice the famous Halal Guys food cart. So I ate both of them.
Of course, the college media conference has also been wonderful. In one session on headline writing, Dan Sweeney from Florida Atlantic University emphasized taking the medium into account while writing headlines. A clickbait-ish, Upworthy-type headline isn’t appropriate for a newspaper, but it might be appropriate as an alternate headline in a tweet or Facebook post. David Simpson, the student media adviser at Georgia Southern University, gave a talk on how to take on tough interviews. He emphasized the importance of coming into interviews with confidence but also with humility.
Probably my favorite session today was from Ron Johnson at Indiana University on quick, easy design improvements. While he had plenty of ideas, I think one that I’ll try to keep in mind for the rest of the year is the importance of white space. I tend not to have much white space in my Opinions pages, opting instead to fill the space with words and big graphics. But Johnson said that even with very content-focused pages like the Opinions section, white space can focus the design by adding breathing room.
Today’s keynote speaker was Scott Pelley of CBS News and 60 Minutes. He emphasized that not only does democracy depend on free press, but also on high-quality journalism.
“When the quality of journalism goes to hell,” he said, “the county will follow.”
Pelley also made the claim that the journalism world isn’t really changing as much as everyone says it is. He said that as much as the distribution and style of journalism might have changed over the past decade, the principles of good journalism remain the same – and will remain the same forever.
“Distribution: revolutionary. Content: same old stuff, folks,” Pelley said.
–Philip Ellefson, opinions editor