|Photo by Sarah Darby|
Last April, I had the opportunity to travel to Journalism Interactive at the University of Maryland. The very first session of the conference started with a drone zooming out on stage. That's when I realized the unique perspective of the conference. J/i started four years ago with a mission to improve journalism education. It has since created a space for journalism students and journalism professors to come together to learn about new techniques and innovations in digital media.
There are a lot of great reasons to attend the conference, but here are my top ones:
1. Hear from world-renowned speakersAt 2014's event, digital media strategist Amy Webb presented a keynote speech talk called "Top Tech Trends for Academics." In case you're not familiar with Webb, she founded a leading digital media consulting firm called Webb Media and has spoken at journalism conferences around the world. Webb's talk covered some of the hottest topics in tech and journalism right now: anticipatory computing, rob journalism, experiential journalism and more. She also had some awesome moments, like when she told the crowd it was worthless to fail students for AP mistakes (Amen!). Anyways, I didn't think this year's Journalism Interactive line-up could top the last, but I was wrong. This year's keynote is Twitter's former head of news, Vivian Schiller. Her former work includes leading positions at NBC News, NPR and NYTimes.com. You won't want to miss her talk, "Beyond the Buzzwords: What it Means to be a News Organization in the Digital Age." The keynote speech isn't all you'll want to see. Digital media professors from across the country will speak at the conference. Below is Webb's full talk:
2. Learn new skills
Although Journalism Interactive is a great chance to hear some awesome speakers, my favorite part of the conference last year was the skill-building workshops. I learned the basics of data scraping, social journalism and entrepreneurship in the event's breakout sessions. The New York Times' graphic team was even at the conference to discuss the early beginnings of Snow Fall. This year's conference places a similar emphasis on building skills. The second day of the conference is completely devoted to breakout sessions. Experts in the field will be teaching everything from code to investigative reporting to audience analytics. You're bound to learn a ton at this conference. Last year, College Media Matters even had a blog post called "100 Things I'm Learning at 2014 Journalism Interactive" (They actually got up to 116 things).
3. Network with future employersJournalism Interactive places a huge emphasis on journalism educators. Faculty members travel from all over to attend this conference. As a student, this makes for a great opportunity to network. You can talk to journalism professionals attending the event, or introduce yourself to professors who specialize in the area of journalism in which you are most interested. Most professors start off working as journalism professionals, so attendees of Journalism Interactive can connect you to a whole host of people in the industry. A wealth of professors also means a wealth of knowledge. You will have a chance to learn about your profession and how to better prepare yourself for the future.
How to attend:
If Journalism Interactive sounds like a great experience to you, it is easy to register online for the conference. Student tickets can be purchased for $40.
How to volunteer:
If you want to kick your conference experience up a notch, you should consider volunteering for the conference. You'll get a free ticket, and there's a good chance you'll be interacting with some of the attendees. If you're interested in volunteering, contact Amy Simons (firstname.lastname@example.org) by March 1. Send her your PawPrint and year in school, and you're ready to go!