Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Gary Metzker praised the most recent edition of the Castleton Spartan at the College Media Association Conference in New York City.
Every year Spartan members go to a critique at the conference, where a professor from another college dissects the student newspaper.
This year, Metzker, a former LA Times reporter who now teaches at California State University Long Beach, was the one doing the critique and talked about how he loved the most recent issue. He complimented the design and content of the paper, which had students feeling excited.
“It seemed like when he first looked at the front page of our paper he just liked it, he didn’t really have too much criticism for us besides the really nitty gritty stuff. It was really cool to have this guy, who’s been writing for a long time and has a Pulitzer Prize, say that our newspaper is designed really well,” Spartan Copy Editor Brendan Crowley said.
Metzker complimented the design and some of the content, particularly praising the decision to run the graphic photo of a Babson College ski racer’s gruesome injury on page 6.
“It was really nice to hear feedback on things like where we ran the ski photo and how that was very, very bold on our part and it was a good idea,” reporter Caton Deuso said.
“It was good to hear someone as distinguished as himself give us praise like that, so I thought it was really cool,” added Sport Editor Tim Brosnan.
Spartan Advisor David Blow, who also critiques other school papers at the conference but does not go to the critique of The Spartan to avoid “chilling” the person, was excited to hear how much praise the paper got and how excited students were to work on the suggestions, Metzker made.
“It’s nice for my students to be validated … They put a lot of work into this, so to get a critique from someone who has won a Pulitzer Prize, a real positive critique with minimal negative stuff, to me was maybe the highlight,” Blow said.
Every year, some of the members of the Castleton Spartan staff are selected to go to the CMA conference in New York City where they learn about various topics in journalism, explore NYC and get to know each other on a deeper level. Blow has been taking students for 13 years.
Students were excited about the sessions they went to, saying they learned a lot and plan to apply what they learned.
A favorite among many of the Castleton students on the trip was a session called “Sports on the Fly,” which taught students how to cover sports using social media, particularly Twitter.
Crowley, Armand Klisivitch, Jayson Mullen, Tim Brosnan and Austin Crosier, the students who attended the session, said they loved learning about live tweeting at sporting events because it’s something the Castleton Spartan hasn’t done before.
Mullen hadn’t realized live tweeting sports was done at the college level, but he thought it was a good way gain experience in another aspect of sports reporting.
“It was really a nice foreshadowing of what I want to do with my career in journalism, with sports in particular,” Crosier said.
Deuso went to a session called “Covering #MeToo,” which gave her a lot of information on how to cover the #MeToo movement and strategies to get information for stories on sensitive topics like this, which she plans to use.
Klisivitch found “FBI Interviewing Strategies” especially helpful. He has since tested the interviewing techniques he learned and said he noticed a difference.
“I got a lot out of it. It helped me as a journalist,” Klisivitch said.
Crowley attended a session about 9/11, which he found particularly interesting.
“It’s crazy to think how journalists just get thrown into action when events hit and just start doing their job rather than being scared,” Crowley said.
Overall students on the trip felt they learned a lot.
“It was nice to get to hear different people who are in the field because obviously a lot of the classes we have are with Dave, and he’s in the field obviously, but it’s nice to get multiple sources that are successful in the field,” Mullen said.
Students also enjoyed the sight-seeing. Some went to the top of the Empire State Building, to Central Park and to comedy shows. The trip, everyone agreed, brought the Castleton Spartan staff closer together.
“Walking through Central Park, that was really, really nice and it was really nice to bond with people,” Deuso said.
For some, building those connections with each other was one of the highlights.
“My favorite part was connecting with the newspaper staff,” Brosnan said.
Crosier felt he got to know everyone, which he couldn’t before since he is unable to attend meetings because of a class conflict, he said.
“It really made me happy to get to know people better and just go out and explore the city,” Crosier said.
To Blow, it is always great to see the students get excited about journalism on the trip along with the bonding aspect.
“The main purpose is for them to come back fired up to do journalism better, to employ what they’ve learned. And there’s the bonding aspect that I think is great. I love creating tighter bonds with students,” Blow said. “I like rewarding effort and this is a way to do it. It’s something to work for.”