‘Empower your students’ for great scholastic journalism at 2016 IJEA Fall Conference

Hundreds of students and their advisers will descend on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus Sept. 16 to prepare for the new school year

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‘Empower your students’ for great scholastic journalism at 2016 IJEA Fall Conference

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URBANA — Now that the Speech Rights of Student Journalists Act is the law of the land in Illinois, there is no better opportunity to “Empower Your Students” than at the IJEA Fall Conference.

The daylong event will be held at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with most of the sessions taking place at the Illini Union, 1401 W. Green St., Urbana.

Why should advisers and their students attend?

“I know of no better way for advisers to get their yearbook and newspaper staffs enthused about the new school year and the challenge of covering their high school communities,” said Lynn Holley, U of I journalism lecturer.

Of course, Holley might not be the most unbiased source, since she’s served as executive director of the Fall Conference since 2004. On the other hand, Holley’s been in the ideal position to see the event’s positive impact year after year.

“Attending this conference helps to get the students in ‘journalism mode,’ ” Holley said. “They begin to feel they’re real journalists and see what great journalism they’re capable of doing. Plus it’s just flat-out fun, and they get to spend the day on the campus of one of the top universities in the country.”

Registration is $17 per student if done by Sept. 9; late registration is $20 per student if space is still available. Total conference space is limited to 600 students.

The cost for advisers is $20 for an adviser’s first medium and $5 for each subsequent medium — e.g., total cost for an adviser who oversees both yearbook and newspaper would be $25. The annual advisers luncheon is free. (Advisers: Please indicate on your registration form whether you plan to attend the luncheon.)

For complete information about costs and registration, including the option to register online, visit the official conference website here.


This year’s program focuses on helping to build skills and tenacity in high school journalists for generations.

Mitch Eden, Dow Jones News Fund’s 2015 Teacher of the Year and media adviser at the Kirkwood Call at Kirkwood High School

Mitch Eden, Dow Jones News Fund National High School Journalism Educator, at the awards ceremony during the National High School Journalism Convention in Orlando, Nov. 14, 2015. Photo by Bradley Wilson

Mitch Eden, Dow Jones News Fund National High School Journalism Educator, at the awards ceremony during the National High School Journalism Convention in Orlando, Nov. 14, 2015. Photo by Bradley Wilson

(Mo.), will talk about the key to building a successful media program — creating a classroom culture of empowerment and empathy. According to Eden, journalism classrooms should be like no other on campus, engaging students in high-energy, innovative and fun activities.

Eden will discuss how he has produced a culture of empowerment among his award-winning staff at the Kirkwood Call, which has won the First Amendment Press Freedom Award and CSPA Silver Crown Hybrid Award as well as dozens more during Eden’s nine years at Kirkwood High School.


During the conference, students will be able to supplement what they take away from the keynote by hearing from others. Among the opportunities:

Bringing Your Stories to Life
John Fountain, Journalism Professor, Roosevelt University, weekly columnist, Chicago Sun-times
There is a kind of music to a well-written feature. A kind of poetry to words well-chosen and woven together, even in the form of a newspaper feature story or news column. There is indeed a certain rhythm and melody to the songs of life that depict the faces and tales of everyday people. And there is a place for these kinds of stories, even in the straight-no-chaser world of daily journalism. There’s no secret to how to bring your stories to life. Among the key ingredients: creativity, craft, sensory detail and the facts—always the facts. This workshop seeks to help you breathe life into your stories with proven methods of succsss. Fountain, an award winning journalist is also the author of “True Vine: A Young Black Man’s Journey of Faith, Hope and Clarity” and “Dear Dad: Reflections on Fatherhood.”

Beyond the assignment: Generating your own story ideas
Hannah Meisel, Springfield Bureau Chief for Law360
In your classes, you may be told what to write about, who to seek out and how to frame your questions. But what really impresses editors, colleagues and especially readers is a journalist’s ability to cultivate truly original stories and cover the thing everyone else has done to death, but from a totally new perspective. Yes, it’s a muscle that grows and gets stronger the longer you’re a reporter, but there are ways to jumpstart your curiosity to make great journalism. Meisel has also reported for public radio stations WILL and WUIS and interned at NPR and the Daily Herald. She is a graduate of both U of I and UIS.

Grand Theft Design: Stealing Yearbook Ideas from the Pros
Sarah Smith,  Balfour-Taylor Yearbooks  
Tired of using the same old layouts? In this session, you will be inspired by professional designers and magazines and see how high school yearbooks all over the country took cues from the pros. Sarah Smith is the local representative for Balfour-Taylor Yearbooks. She was the  yearbook adviser at the award-winning Illio Yearbook, yearbook of the University of Illinois, for eight years and a yearbook judge for the Columbia Scholastic Press Association for four years.

Advertising for fun and profit
Tom Winski, MS, MJE, retired photographer, newspaper reporter and editor, adviser to both high school and college publications
Generate more advertising and advertising income with quick and easy promotions that not only pay for themselves, but add revenue to your publicaiton.  Winski is also an NSPA Pioneer, a JEA Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, and an inaugural member of the IJEA Hall of Fame.


As always, students and advisers will have dozens of expert sessions to choose from throughout the day, with each session lasting 50 minutes.

We will have many new session offerings including data journalism, covering a presidential election, writing for a diverse audience and much more. Plus the option of specialized tracks to help yearbook, newspaper and media advisers and their students sharpen their proficiency in selected areas of interest and skill will be offered again.  What’s your passion? We have the track:

  • Advising
  • Multimedia & Photography
  • Reporting, Writing, Editing
  • Design
  • Promotion, Marketing

For ease of planning, each session is identified in the conference schedule with an icon that indicates which of the five tracks it belongs to. Of course, conference-goers may also attend sessions without regard to tracks.



Write Off! Competing in an Onsite Feature Contest
The Fall Conference will again offer an onsite feature-writing competition, in which students test their abilities to write a compelling story under tight deadline conditions. The competitors will interview the keynote speaker and then head to Gregory Hall to write their stories. The contest is limited to one student per school.
Advisers: If one of your students is interested in competing, you must reserve a spot in the contest. You can do this by checking the appropriate box on the online version of the registration form or by leaving a note under “Number of students expected to attend” on the paper version.


2015 conference logo2FOR MORE INFORMATION

To learn more about the conference, from the full lineup of sessions to the lowdown on directions and parking, visit the official site here.

If you have questions that the site doesn’t answer, please contact Lynn Holley by email at [email protected] or by phone at 217-333-1508.

We look forward to seeing you Sept. 16!

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