UNLV Students Take Initiative Attending The SPJ23 Journalism Convention

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Panel Sessions During The SPJ Convention. Photo by Trinity Martinez

This year’s Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Conference was held on Sept. 28-30 at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino for all its SPJ members, partners and guests to attend. 

The SPJ is a well-known organization with an expansive source base that has represented journalists and encouraged the free practice of media in an ethical manner. Its resources and efforts have not only inspired professionals within the field but has also prompted students to develop their diverse voices within the SPJ community. UNLV students who have participated in the conference express their views on their experiences.

Journalism student Leilani Apo was approached by her professor to take part in the conference in order to learn more about the newsroom. As Apo’s concentrations are focused in social media, podcast and broadcasting, the conference has engaged her with a variety of panel sessions and a chance to speak with other students.

“I learned to channel the confidence I have everywhere else into my writing and future career. I talked to many journalists and went to the Imposter Syndrome panel and it allowed me to feel more comfortable and confident in my choices. I also learned how to work under pressure and quick deadlines in the student newsroom,” stated Apo.

Anthony Paculan was another journalism student in attendance with Apo who was able to discuss what he learned and obtained from the conference. “I learned an incredible amount of soft skills like communicating and networking, hard skills such as FOIA application writing and writing under short deadlines, and opportunities to insert myself in networks like the Sinclair Group that will later help me find jobs,” said Paculan. From areas of panel sessions, keynote speakers and workshops to an exhibit hall for potential career paths, the conference engages its attendees with valuable information.

One UNLV student was able to receive hands-on experience during their time at the SPJ conference. Syrus Hall is another journalism and media studies student who talked about his work as SPJ’s staff photographer and learning to adapt in the fast-paced environment.

“My hard skills were put to the test, and I learned some new techniques to further my craft on the media side of things. I learned a ton from the freelancers corner who taught me many different skills and with this knowledge I can potentially become a ‘jack of all trades’ with what they taught me. Overall, I learned how to think quickly and independently on my feet and how to operate collaboratively in a newsroom with my colleagues,” Hall says. 

Through this event, the students questioned if UNLV should have its own SPJ chapter, which Apo, Paculan and Hall agree would be beneficial to students and also offer additional assets. Apo clarifies how “it is a way to network and learn alongside working journalists.” Hall also adds, “It would be nice if we can create the same culture we experienced at the conference here on campus.”

On the other hand, Paculan discloses, “There are plenty more organizations besides SPJ for future journalists. Over the weekend, I heard from plenty of people working with the Asian American Journalists Association, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and other similar organizations that are gaining traction.” 
Those interested in learning about the SPJ along with their future events can visit their website for more information. The SPJ website has additional details on how to become a member, supporter, find essential journalism tools or donate to their organization.

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