The Sidekick staff ends first day of journalism convention


Brian Hwu

Editor-in-chief Michelle Pitcher listens as a spokesperson from Jostens speak about a new program that allows communities to share photos at the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention on April 12. Photo by Brian Hwu.

Editor-in-chief Michelle Pitcher listens as a spokesperson from Jostens speak about a new program that allows communities to share photos at the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention on April 12. Photo by Brian Hwu.

By Addy Buigas-Lopez
Business Manager

SEATTLE – Twelve Sidekick staff members, along with their adviser Chase Wofford and KCBY adviser Irma Kennedy, took off Wednesday night for the Journalism Education Association National Conference in Seattle, Wash.

EMP Museum dazzles students with music, film

Arriving late Wednesday night gave Sidekick staffers a head start on exploring the Emerald City. Because check-in for the convention was in the afternoon, staff members set out to visit some of Seattle’s tourist attractions, one being the Experience Music Project (EMP) Museum.

At first, the thought of a museum left many staff members less than thrilled; however, the EMP Museum left everyone in awe at its many exhibitions. Although the EMP Museum focuses on music, specifically rock bands, it also dabbles in movies and film-making.

Upon first glance, the EMP Museum is a building constructed of reflective colorful metals abstractly shaped. Inside, the museum continues its unusual look. Once inside, staffers made their way around the modern museum, stopping first at the Science Fiction exhibit. Proudly displayed are various items and souvenirs from Star Trek, Star Wars, Firefly, and Avatar.

Continuing along through the museum, staff members entered the “Can’t Look Away – The Lure of Horror Film” exhibit. Diving into the world of zombies, monsters and psychopaths, staff members experienced many aspects of horror film – from behind the scenes of production to learning how to perfect a horror movie scream.

The remainder of the museum focuses on Rock-N-Roll music, featuring exhibitions dedicated solely to Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix. Lining the walls of each exhibit were countless quotes, album covers, guitars and insights to the childhoods of each of the band members. Throughout the rooms, people take advantage of its interactive nature, picking up headphones and watching videos that further delve into the exhibition topics.

Wrapping up the visit to the EMP Museum, staffers enjoyed the upstairs “Studio Room,” where many learned the basics to several instruments including the guitar, drums and the keyboard. After familiarizing themselves with each instrument, staffers put their new skills to the test in one of the many “Jam Session” rooms and in the “Recording Studio” as they made a video to The Beatles’ “Twist and Shout.”

NSPA awards the Pacemaker to high school journalists

Every year, the National Scholastic Press Association announces the winner to its highest award, the Pacemaker, at the JEA Convention. Categories for the Pacemaker are newspaper, online, magazine, digital yearbook, broadcast and yearbook. This year, Coppell Student Media has been selected as an online publication Pacemaker finalist for the first time.

Awarded with black ribbons for being finalists, the Sidekick staff members toured the exhibition hall to meet with journalism schools, companies and other journalism students. Among the students met, staffers came across another Pacemaker finalist.

“When we got the award, I didn’t actually know what it was,” sports editor of Pleasure Grove High School’s newspaper Josh Whitt said. “But after looking it up and seeing how prestigious it was, it was really cool. I had never gotten an award before and this was a really big one for us.”

Winners for the Pacemaker award will be announced Saturday at the convention.

Keynote speaker Sizemore advises journalists

To open the convention, JEA-NSPA invited accomplished journalist and current writer for MSNBC Jennifer Sizemore to speak to the mass of journalism students attending the convention. Having written for five newspapers across the country, from NY to TX, Sizemore prepared to share her experiences and advice to these budding journalists.

“If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much room,” Sizemore quoted in her speech. “With the state of journalism as it is, the most dangerous thing to do is be safe.”

Advances in technology and emerging social media have led news sources to enter a state of chaos and utter confusion. News and information are constantly being thrown at people from every platform available, making the demand for information limitless. The problem that then arises is determining which sources are giving new ideas and which are recycling stories.

“Of course it’s okay to redefine content,” Sizemore said. “As Forbes said, sometimes the most important thing is just to make sure the information spreads. However, the best thing you can do is add to the universe and keep things interesting.”

For aspiring journalists, Sizemore insists that the easiest way to come up with fresh stories is to keep up with what is happening and how people consume information and cater to that. All that has to be done to connect a reader to a topic is to find an angle relevant to him or her.

“Remember,” Sizemore said, “everyone is a reporter, but not everyone is journalist. The key is to keep an open mind.”