A group of media savvy students from the St. John’s campus jetted across the country last month to get a crash course in journalism.
For more than four days they absorbed every facet of news: from writing and interview techniques to newspaper design and photography.
The students are volunteers and employees with the Muse, Memorial’s long-running student newspaper.
They were in Vancouver, B.C., to participate in Saga 2007: The 69th Annual National Student Journalism Conference organized by the Canadian University Press. The energetic group took in workshops, seminars and roundtable discussions with a host of journalists, editors, freelance writers and designers.
“There was basically a skill development session for everybody,” said Muse editor-in-chief John Rieti, who is also a fourth-year arts student majoring in English and completing a minor in Geography. “Pretty much everything gets covered at the conference, as well as issues that face students.
“There was a lot of in-depth discussion on writing. A lot of writers talked about how they were moving away from the inverted pyramid structure which is the basic structure of news. I found that really interesting.”
In addition to Mr. Rieti, seven other students travelled to the conference including senior reporter Katie Hyslop, arts editor Angie Barrington, production manager Mark Cluett, writers Christina Barfitt and Brad Ayers, writer and photographer Justin Madol and Bakhtiyar Peer, the paper’s business manager.
They paid for the trip thanks to some “aggressive” fundraising. Memorial’s Division of Marketing and Communications, publisher of the Gazette, donated $1,500 to help offset the cost of sending a delegate to the conference. The students also had other supporters from around the university and the general community.
Ivan Muzychka, manager of communications with Marketing and Communications, said his division was delighted to be able to provide funding to the Muse staff.
He said while Memorial doesn’t have a journalism school, there are opportunities for students to learn about how journalism is practiced. He said his unit often provides help to budding reporters at the university.
“The CUP conference is an excellent professional development opportunity. We were pleased to be able to help our students travel to interact with their peers and with professional reporters,” he said. “I am certain that they are all better reporters. We have an interest in fostering excellence in student journalism.”
Meanwhile, for his part, Mr. Rieti said thanks to conferences like the one last month, the Muse is able to mentor even more student writers and those interested in the newspaper business.
“Hopefully the skills we take from conferences like this can start building a journalism community around the Muse,” he said. “I think people are realizing that this a good place to get your foot in the door with journalism or at least try it.”