|This and next three images--college student from around Iowa listening to speakers at annual Iowa College Media Association convention, hosted by the Iowa Newspaper Association, Feb. 2, 2023, in Des Moines.|
There’s no doubt that journalism is changing. This week, two students and I attended the Iowa College Media Association Convention Feb. 2 in Des Moines.
The convention, which was a two-day affair PC (pre-COVID), was one day this year. It’s hosted by the Iowa Newspaper Association, and with fewer vendors willing to travel in pandemic times and a shrinking base of newspapers, the associated twitched to a one-day affair.
Times they are a-changing. So is the MMU Times, the Mount Mercy University campus newspaper that I advise—it’s gone from broadsheet (full size) to tabloid (half size) with the idea that we’ll be more of an on-line news source. I foresee that a day may come soon where we forsake the printing press for a total emphasis on cyberspace.
|Students taking notes (above and below).|
Anyway, it was great to be back in Des Moines. I wore a mask—it’s an event that brings hundreds together from all corners of the state, and I just felt it was prudent. I was almost alone in that, and I hope this convention doesn’t prove to be the super-spreader event that helps the new Kraken sub-variant really get going in the Hawkeye State.
I took a home test tonight. Negative.
But I was pretty positive about the convention. INA’s keynote speaker was the kickoff event, and it was a kick. Dr. Richard Deming, a Des Moines oncologist spoke about “Pursuing Life with Purpose and Passion.”
He runs a sort of adventure travel program that involves taking people who have undergone cancer treatment on trips, such as climbing Mount Everest.
|Dr. Richard Deming tells stories from the nonprofit "Beyond Cancer" that takes people who have been treated for cancer on adventure trips. He describes it as a form of ministry.|
Deming noted that treating cancer is not the most important part of what he does—a great doctor, he said, treats the patient, not the disease. And partly that means taking the time to be part of their story.
“You guys (newspaper people) are story tellers,” he said. “You have to be a story listener before you can be a story teller.”
He touchingly recounted trips and people, showing pictures and telling stories. We met women and men who overcome and live life to the fullest facing whatever hand of cards the universe deals—an elderly lady with poor balance and eyesight, for example, scaling the slope of Kilimanjaro.
She and the others all share a deep appreciation of a reality that we all face but sometimes forget—our time is finite.
“If you have a dream you to want to fulfill, today is a good day to do that,” Deming said.
Also that we need to treat each other with kindness and support. As we all pursue our dreams, none of us can do it alone. And we should do it now, too.
“You don’t have to have cancer to get off your butt and live your life,” he said.
I had been asked to snap and share some images during the convention, so I stuck pretty much to the ICMA speakers. It was enough, they were an interesting group.
|EJ Phily Burton is introduced.|
EJ Philby Burton, of Produce Iowa, a state office promoting movie production in Iowa, talked of the opportunities in that industry. I thought much of she said applied to any creative profession, including journalism.
For example, when you’re in a hurry and have a complex task to get done, “power walk, don’t sprint.” If you move too quickly, you’ll get sloppy. I often tell students that their slowest typing should be when they’re writing cutlines or headlines—the last-minute touches done in a rush are also where the most embarrassing mistakes are made. So don’t sprint when you’re in a hurry. Don’t crawl, either—but power walk, working quickly, but deliberately.
She also noted that on a movie set, a smart production assistant won’t whip out their phone, but will look around and see what needs to be done—carefully, so as not to interfere with others’ tasks, but success comes to those who can see what needs to done without always having to be directed.
|Sarah Muller of Forbes talks of the need for journalism and journalist to evolve and meet their audiences where they are.|
At a later session, Sarah Muller, Social Media Lead for Forbes, gave all kinds of example of how media needs to be more active online.
In particular, she urged us to seriously consider TikTok as a story telling venue, given that’s where younger members of the audience are. And Iowa is banning state offices from using that app. I feel another post on another topic coming on soon.
Back to ICMA. “We have to learn to evolve,” Muller said.
The final panel of the afternoon is one I look forward to each year, the “Young Professionals.” They were a good crew this year, as they often are.
|Young professionals panels. Hayley Schaefer of Iowa PBS speaks.|
The one that stuck with me most was Olivia Allen, a Simpson College graduate last year who now is an education reporter with the Quad City Times. She spoke passionately of her desire to give voice to the voiceless, to write about school policy including the voices of students who are most affected.
It felt, to me, exactly what this gig is all about—giving voice to those whose voices are otherwise not heard. It echoed back to what Dr. Deming had said in the morning, because part of the challenge is to learn to be a story listener in order to be a better story teller.
|Olivia Allen of the Quad City Times speaks as Nick Brincks of Iowa Public Radio listens.|
The other panelists were memorable, too. Nick Brincks, of Iowa Public Radio, was the oldest of the young professionals, having graduated nine years ago. I thought he brought some realism about how life changes as you go from the college life to full adulthood.
The program ended with the ICMA 2022 media contest awards ceremony and keynote speaker.
|Ty Rushing speaks.|
Ty Rushing, a force in Iowa journalism since he joined the ranks of Iowa reporters in 2013, spoke. A native of Kansas City, he told us of his jobs and the lesson he learned at each, including, honestly, what kind of editor not to be.
It took be six years to work my way to an undergraduate degree, so Rushing’s stories of working in a warehouse at night and attending college during the day resonated with me—for me, for part of my academic career, it was an overnight shift in a cat food factory. He took seven years, but he made it.
Anyway, one point both Rushing and the four young journalism panelists emphasized was the importance of getting as deeply involved in student media as possible.
The students I advise at the MMU Times earned seven awards, including:
- First Place, Staff Editorials (Jada Veasey, Annie Barkalow and Gwen Johnson). I’m thrilled with this award, which the Times has won in the past. It’s a strength of this paper that it can speak with a coherent, powerful voice. The editorial cited included one on COVID-19 policy, and two urging students to take care of their mental health.
- First Place, Best Vlog or Blog (Catherine Kratoska for Catherine The-Not-Too-Bad). Again, a traditional strength for Mount Mercy (you’ll see us again in second place in the same category).
- First Place, Best Written Feature Reporting (Annie Barkalow). Mrs. Barkalow’s name came up a lot this year. This was for coverage of a Holocaust memorial speaker at MMU in spring.
- Second Place, Best News Reporting (Annie Barkalow). A story in spring about student art being removed when some deemed it offensive.
- Second Place, Best Vlog or Blog (Annie Barkalow for Anne with an E). Second time in a row Barkalow has won this honor. She’s the CCR of blog writers.
- Honorable Mention, Best Headline Writing (Jada Veasey, Annie Barkalow, Gwen Johnson).
- Honorable Mention, Best News Reporting (Annie Barkalow). This one confused me a bit, because it’s for an excellent feature about teaching, but I think there was some category confusion. I entered it in “investigative reporting,” and I’m not sure why it shifted categories.
Well, seven awards, with three first-place awards is a decent result. Congratulations to all the MMU winning journalists!
|Delcie Sanache at the ICMA convention, with Joselyn Hildebrand in the background. Both are editors on this year's newspaper staff, and, I hope, winners of ICMA awards next year.|
And thanks to Delcie Sanache and Joselyn Hildebrand, two Times editors who attended the conference and represented MMU there.
I do miss the two-day conventions, but we have to learn to evolve. And Thursday was a good day.
|Craig Schaefer, president of ICMA, congratulates Jana Shepherd of the Iowa Newspaper Association. Shepherd received the John Eighmy Service Award, given by ICMA each year to a supporter of college student journalism. Without her support, ICMA would not be able to have it's annual meeting.|