At 7 a.m. on a chilly Thursday, 10 students piled into a van shoulder-to-shoulder, preparing themselves for the four-hour car ride awaiting them. Bags were stacked in the back, playlists were queued, and containers of muffins and croissants sat behind the front seat ready to be passed around.
In the driver’s seat was journalism professor and Spartan advisor Dave Blow, who had driven the (giant) van to his home in Queensbury the night before and was now listening to the students in the back, all staff of the Spartan, chat quietly.
And at 7:08 a.m. they were off, heading to the big city for the College Media Association National Spring Convention.
For senior Sports Editor Jake McCarthy, this was his first time visiting New York City.
“I mean, I’ve driven through it, I’ve played football down here. But, you know, we were right in Times Square, which I thought was really cool. Just being able to walk out of the hotel and kind of just experience what New York City is like,” McCarthy said. “I learned not to talk to people on the street in New York City,” he joked.
But the learning did not stop there.
While at the convention, McCarthy was able to go to a session about FBI strategies to interviewing – detailing the right kind of body language, wording of questions, and how to build trust during an interview. As a future police officer, this is something McCarthy can use in the future.
“I think the session about interviewing is going to be very beneficial for me and something that I can continue to build off of and learn more about,” McCarthy said.
Web Editor Hannah Williams was also able to attend a session that may be able to help with her future career – a session that she just happened to stumble upon.
“I went to one that was super boring, and I simply could not sit through the whole thing. So, I just kind of went to the one next door and that one was so good. It was kind of like small-scale marketing within your company and that was super interesting,” Williams said.
What stood out the most to junior Josie Gawrys was a session they attended about storytelling through videography.
“She would talk about certain elements that you can use in videography, and she would show us things and then we would discuss how they were used. I thought that that was really helpful. Also, I learned some new terms today, which was exciting. Like, I didn’t know what vector lines were until today,” Gawrys said.
For junior Mason Parece, it was a session about linear design in online news, a format that he isn’t fond of, but now understands better.
“It was nice learning, I guess, why it’s done like that and why we should keep doing it like that and how to improve upon that for the future moving forward, whatever new technology we have,” Parece said.
Spartan staff was also able to participate in a critique of an issue of their paper with Wendy Weinhold, a professor at Coastal Carolina University. This was the favorite session of Editor-in-Chief Aris Sherwood.
“I enjoyed the critique because I’m always thinking about how I can leave a lasting impact on the Spartan,” Sherwood said. “It was really nice to hear other ideas and things that we can incorporate, start incorporating, now so that once I leave my editor-in-chief position, it’s new and it’s fun and it’s funky and fresh.”
The critique had an impact on senior sportswriter Marty Kelly as well.
“She said you’re only as good as what you’re doing tomorrow. And that really stuck with me. I feel like that’s a very, you know, sort of widely applicable thing to say,” Kelly said.
One of the keynote events at the convention, that most of the members went to, was a Q&A with Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, the reporters who exposed Harvey Weinstein and brought national attention to the #MeToo movement. This session had the most impact, according to Managing Editor Sophia Buckley-Clement.
“That was really powerful to me, because investigative journalism is something I’ve always been interested in and reporting on something like that that is, you know, a pretty traumatic experience for the individuals being interviewed is something that I’ve also always been interested in,” Buckley-Clement said.
It had an impact on Blow as well.
“What I was thinking about when I when I was sitting with you guys is we have some pretty powerful young women on our staff and I think it was really neat for them to see some really powerful women who made a whole movement, you know, with their words and their tenacity,” Blow said.
On top of everything else, Blow also set up a special experience for some of the students who were involved in “COVID Chronicles: College Students Navigate Pandemic Life,” the book he self-published containing stories from lockdown. This journalist, along with junior Jacob Gonzalez, senior Jasmin Gomez, Sherwood, and Kelly, got to speak at a panel and share experiences from the pandemic.
“I just felt it had to be done. I thought the words were so powerful that you guys wrote, and this to me was the culmination of that. I pitched the session, they agreed to it and it was nice to be up there next to you guys,” Blow said.
This experience was important to all the students involved, including Gonzalez, who had some nerves beforehand.
“[It was] very nerve wracking, but at the same time was very surreal. You know, it was something that I’ve been looking forward to. Just to be able to get that experience under my belt,” Gonzalez said.
Gomez feels similarly.
“I think it’s something I’m definitely going to take with me. You know, I think it’s cool to say that I spoke with my professor and other peers at a conference in New York City,” Gomez said.
And Parece, who filmed the panel, enjoyed it as well.
“It was lovely seeing you guys up there, like, talking about your experience during COVID and what this book meant to you and to you guys as friends,” Parece said.
While the main focus of the trip was the convention, there was room for fun as well.
Blow, Gonzalez, Kelly, and McCarthy got the treat of going to Madison Square Garden for a basketball game.
“I’ve never been in Madison Square Garden, and we had some really great seats for it. You know, we could see everything and we just we had a really good time. We probably should have gone back last night,” Kelly said.
Gonzalez, who is admittedly “not the biggest basketball fan” appreciated the experience as well and thought he “got his money’s worth, for sure.”
Sherwood was able to see a showing of “Hadestown” on Broadway.
“I love walking around the city at night by myself and going to shows that I love. So, I love that I was able to do that,” Sherwood said. “And the person who wrote the show was from Vermont, so I thought that was really special.”
This journalist got to see one of her favorite rappers, Aminé, in concert, right up against the barricade to the stage.
And on Friday night, everyone was treated to a nice dinner at Forlini’s, an Italian restaurant near Canal Street.
“It’s nice when we’re all together because everybody’s kind of doing their own thing for most of the weekend,” said Blow of the evening. “I do it on purpose, you know. I like to have that sit-down dinner where we can laugh and talk… And the food is so great, too.”
“Forlini’s was great, I had a lovely time,” Gawrys said.
Along with the fun came thoughts for the future. One of the speakers was giving advice about resumes, cover letters, and applying to jobs.
“That stuck out to me. I’m thinking about that, and I’m going to be applying to jobs soon,” Gomez said, adding that, “It really hit me that I’m graduating.”
Gomez was not the only one who was struck with thoughts of graduating.
“I think it really hit me that I only have two months left, and I’ve been doing this paper since I was a freshman. Through the pandemic it was all I had, and this is like the last hurrah, and I’ve been waiting two years for it. So, it was really special to me. Just a good way to end and wrap up my time with the Spartan,” Sherwood said.