Taking a big bite of the Apple

'Castleton Spartan' newspaper students pose together in Times Square. 

Nine staff writers for the Castleton Spartan newspaper took a trip to New York City on March 8 to attend the 2018 College Media Association journalism convention.

The three-day trip included an inside look at The Nation Magazine, a fun night on the town, the 2018 Big East Tournament, a group dinner at Forlini’s in Little Italy and productive days of interesting sessions.

Every year for the past 11 years, professor David Blow has selected nine individual students – ones who show incredible work ethic and passion while writing for Castleton Spartan – to go to the conference to learn more about journalism.

“I try to take students who are going to get a lot out of this,” Blow said. “It’s a learning experience, but it’s also a perk for doing a lot of work.”

He said the most rewarding part of his experience this year was visiting his former student, Sky Barsch, who is now the Associate Publisher, Advertising for The Nation magazine.

“Coming full circle like that, having a former student talk to current students at a prestigious national magazine, I thought it was awesome,” Blow said.

He hopes the NYC trip will inspire students and get them excited about the endless possibilities in the field of journalism, he said.

'Castleton Spartan' newspaper students attend a meeting at 'The Nation' magazine. Photo by Sky Barsch. 

Freshman Brendan Crowley was inspired – really inspired.

He came to Castleton as a sports management major, but after he began sportswriting for Castleton Spartan for fun, he found a passion for it.

Now, he’s switching his major entirely, and said the trip “solidified” that decision.

“I just think it’s really cool how I randomly signed up to be a sports writer and now this is where it’s taken me. It has changed my entire career focus,” Crowley said. “I went to the ESPN campus (for a previous story) and now I went to New York City for an experience that I never thought I would have. It’s crazy how one small choice can lead to such big changes.”

Crowley even got to cross an item off his bucket list by going to Madison Square Garden for the Big East Tournament.

Bailey Cummings was also impacted by the conference and said it taught her more about the media world and opened her up to different styles of journalistic writing.

“I was able to reflect on my role in the media, as well as think about what I’d like to do in the future,” Cummings said.

She said her favorite part of the trip was bonding with fellow staff members.

“Being able to go out and really get to know the others that write for The Spartan with me, we were able to connect and bond over things that didn’t pertain to journalism,” she said.

Adam Cook said he liked meeting advisors and student writers from across the country.

He said one session that spoke to him was on getting people to talk to you.

“The most memorable part of that one was when the presenter said ‘I’m a middle aged lesbian! That’s what I’m working with!’” Cook said.

Cook, an introvert at heart, said the group dinner in Little Italy was his favorite part of the trip.

“It’s a chance to just relax and speak openly, and to get to know each other better,” he said.

Brigitta Gough said she learned a lot from the conference, and one session in particular gave her insightful interview tactics that she was able to use recently in one of her own interviews.

“I learned a lot about how to interview people better, and I actually used some of those strategies in an interview earlier this week. I found that it really helped, and I really got some good information when I used those techniques.

Former Spartan editor Carly Trombley said she gained a lot from the sessions she attended at the conference. Most of the sessions she attended were social media focused, she said, and it opened her eyes to social media branding and its importance.

“I didn’t realize how important it was to create a personal brand instead of just thinking about the brand of a company,” Trombley said.

She added that the trip motivated her about the future of her career.

“It always lights a new fire under me when I leave there. I get so excited to get to work and take what I’ve learned and use it,” she said.

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