The nine Spartan members knew it was going to be an interesting weekend the moment they stepped into the dirty-white-rental van. Nine students, one professor, four hotel rooms and two days of a journalism conference in New York City? No one knew what to expect. This was a trip to be brought up in conversations for years to come.
On Sat., March 15, members of the Castleton Spartan and their advisor, Professor David Blow, headed to New York City to attend the College Media Advisors convention at the Marriott Marquis Hotel located in Times Square.
The College Media Advisors convention is a national spring convention held every year in New York City.
The three-day long event allows journalism students and their advisors from all over the U.S. attend hour-long sessions taught by various professionals and up and coming journalists.
The sessions cover all areas of journalism including reporting, design, career tips and much more.
“I was quite excited because I went to the conference last year and I had high hopes for this year,” said Janet Gillett, senior and editor of the Spartan.
Gillett was the only member of the Spartan who had attended the conference before.
The conference began at 9 a.m. Sunday morning, giving the Spartan members Saturday night to soak in the New York City experience. The group split up, some walking up to Central Park, while others shopped for items they could never afford.
“We basically scoped out every high end store there was,” Ashley Manning said. “Walking into designer clothing stores and luxury car dealers definitely gave me a goal to work for. When I can afford those items, well then I’ll be rich and successful.”
“Prada is way too god-damn expensive. They could smell the Vermont on us!” Matt Sargent, Spartan photographer, said.
Some of the Spartan members were lucky enough to snag some cheap tickets to the Georgetown vs. Pittsburgh game in Madison Square Garden, others were disappointed in the high prices of tickets to go see Spamalot on stage.
When Sunday morning rolled around, the Marriott was buzzing with the sounds of journalism students from all over the country.
Students attended multiple sessions on topics which interested them the most. Steve McNulty raved about a session he went to titled “Profiles: Hammer the scenes” which was led by Eric Adelson, senior writer for ESPN magazine.
“That was awesome!” he said.
“My favorite part of the journalism conference was learning how to get jobs and good internships. I went to sessions where professional reporters for big-time magazines were giving advice on what they look for in potential hires,” said Manley.
Even David Blow, professor of three years and a journalist of almost 18 years, learned something from the conference.
“The blogging session was really neat. It changed my opinion of blogging. I’m excited about adding a blogging component to my feature writing class,” said Blow.
For most of the group, the biggest part of the conference was not only the sessions, but the experience. Exposure to this many journalists and aspiring journalists is a rarity for a group from Castleton, Vermont.
“It was good to see that there’s so many people nation wide who are interested in the same things as I am,” Laura Olson said.
Students at the conference were able to compare their newspapers to the publications put out by other colleges and universities.
“It was a real eye-opening experience. I had this idea that bigger schools would have better papers and would be doing all of these wonderful things. However, I can honestly say that the individuals contributing to the Spartan are doing a fabulous job,” Manley said.
One feature of the conference which members took interest in was the critique of The Spartan, held Monday afternoon.
A journalist from Florida named Elena Jarvis, critiqued the paper, giving helpful suggestions and comments on how the paper looks and what can be done to make it even better. The entire group gathered for this critique, in hopes of many helpful tips.
Gillett, who designs the paper as well as edits, was pleased with the overall critique.
“It was kind of an ego-boost. Overall they didn’t point anything major or anything blaring,” said Gillett. “They didn’t expect that from the little Castleton paper.”
Blow believes this trip is an experience that will inspire students to improve themselves and increase their passion for journalism.
“I like exposing students and rewarding them,” said Blow.
The trip to New York City is something Blow hopes to do annually. So far, Blow has already seen some of the Spartan members inspired by the conference.
“The overall experience of being on the streets and in the culture of NYC really inspired me to work hard and soak up all the journalism knowledge that I can get because it is possible to live out my dream of working at a major magazine,” Manley said.
When 3 p.m. Monday rolled around, a few Spartans were ready to go back home, while the others dragged themselves to the car.
On the van ride back to Castleton, Vt. the group reflected on their experiences, laughing while recalling certain events from the weekend. All the Spartans had something positive to say about the conference and the trip itself.
“I couldn’t of asked for a better experience at this point in my college career,” said Olson.