Editor Spends Summer Immersed in Journalism

Pictures courtesy of the Newseum Institute.

Heather Barker, Editor-in-Chief

While most days of my summer consisted of sleeping in, watching TV and going to soccer practice, six days of my short summer were made absolutely incredible by the Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference, much to my surprise.

I wasn’t expecting to experience everything I did at this conference. I went in thinking that I would make a few friends and learn a little about the journalism field, but I was completely wrong.

I flew for my first time, which was a little nerve wracking, and arrived in the District of Columbia on a chilly Saturday morning. I got lost in the overwhelming crowds of people and finally came across the woman with the blue sign that would set me on my way in a very nice Lincoln car with my first friend of the event, Daniel from Missouri.

We sat awkward in silence with the driver until we arrived at our hotel where we met about 20 other free spirits that had arrived before us. They were going around the table introducing themselves and telling everyone an interesting fact about their states. We did this about 10 times until everyone arrived. On the first time around, though, when I introduced myself as the representative of West Virginia, the representative from Hawaii started to sing “Country Roads.”

After meeting 50 new friends, we proceeded to meet renowned journalists and politicians throughout the rest of the six days. We not only were able to view a live taping of “Meet the Press,” but we also got to speak with David Gregory and were also given a tour of USA TODAY’s newsrooms and spoke with many professional journalists.

As if that wasn’t good enough, we were given the opportunity to interview former White House Press Secretary Ron Nessen and participate in a mock trial at the United States Federal Court House.

Although we spent quite a bit of our time in the Newseum conference room during seminars, we also were able to tour the amazing building to learn the history of news telling for a few hours, which was not long enough.

Even though meeting so many prestigious professionals over those six days was amazing, the 50 other students who enjoyed this experience with me were the most important people I met. I can now say that I have a friend in every state and I can’t wait to see what I and all the others will accomplish in the future and of course, how we dream, dare and do.