Student journalists embrace social media at JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention

By Jake Chiarelli

Social media has recently been identified as one of a journalist’s most powerful, impacting tools. Modern technology allows anyone, anywhere to be a reporter. The average citizen can capture in seconds what seasoned journalists used to take hours, if not longer, to cover. The emergence of this new machine has changed the modern lifestyle, and has revolutionized the conventional journalist.

Booths at the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention allow sponsors of the event to reach out to attendees and encourage use of their respective product.
(photo by nick wyer)

“My staff is using twitter and Instagram to let people know what we are doing here at the convention,” Orange Glen High advisor Jessica Young said. “We are also letting people know what we are learning about and we are tweeting out where we are and when.” Orange Glen High School advisor Jessica Young said.

The National High School Journalism Convention in San Francisco is a massive congregation of young, eager high schoolers looking to make their mark on the journalism field. Without social media, they may never have had that chance. The use of social media is not only encouraged, it’s seemingly mandatory for amateur Journalists.

“I’ve been using social media to expand my ideas for an improved yearbook for my school this coming year.” Editor Sergio Zamora, from El Paso Texas said.

The convention, which is sponsored by the Journalism Education Association, and the National Scholastic Press Association, encourages and highlights individuals in the journalism field. Since social media has become such a powerful tool, the convention has become a hotspot for social media interaction and coverage of the convention itself.

“We’re using social media, especially twitter and Instagram, to promote the Media Now STL summer workshop, and spread the word about Lindenwood’s journalism program. We’ve also been promoting the convention.” Exhibitor Jill Faulk said.

Jill Faulkner aids convention goers in taking a photo to publish on Instagram with the hashtag #hsjSF. (photo by nick wyer)

The convention’s very location is a testament to it’s social media involvement. The San Francisco area is one of the largest socially active cities in the world, and boasts a presence that can’t be ignored. The Twitter headquarters is less than a mile from the convention venue, and sponsored tours of the building and its facilities for a select few convention attendees.

“While I was at Twitter headquarters, we talked about what Twitter was doing specifically for journalists, and the difference between citizen journalism and how it benefits actual journalists,” Social Media tour attendee Morgan O’Neill said. “They talked about break-through events like the Arab Spring, the presidential election, and the boston marathon incident, and how they impacted Twitter.”

The logo for the convention itself promotes social media use because of it’s hashtag-style format. At the first keynote speech, attendees were even encouraged to follow the guest speaker on social media accounts, and participate in live tweeting questions during the presentation.

“Currently we are retweeting and sending out original content to personalize the convention for everyone via twitter.” JEA Intern Jon Doty said.

For the first time this year, the convention has used an app to plan and schedule the events available to attendees, through “Guidebook”. The app allows users to schedule and rate the sessions available at the convention to gauge the interest in the different topics being discussed. The app is available for free at the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store

“Guidebook makes the schedule and everything easier to access wherever you are in the city so you get on time to things.” Attendee Andy Hayden said.

The JEA/NSPA convention has integrated social media into it’s sessions, operation, and public relations. That exposure has helped the convention grow and support so many young journalists from all over the nation, that has helped spread ideas, tips and advice among members of the same field.