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The Scroll

The Student News Site of Fargo North High School

The Scroll

The Scroll

D.C. Journalism Conference made me change my perspective


Over the summer, I had the immense pleasure of going to Washington D.C. for the Washington Journalism and Multimedia Conference, hosted by George Mason. It was a new experience filled with learning how to make connections and seeing how journalism works in the real world. It was also the farthest I had ever traveled and I was in awe. I got to see museums, listen to speakers, and even meet with a Senator at the Capitol. It made me question journalism, but also cherish it.
Honestly, the conference wouldn’t be the same without the speakers. The week was filled with journalists from well-known organizations like NBC, Vox, and The Washington Post. Some of my favorite speakers were Brian Lamb (former CEO of C-Span), Carmella Boykin (Associate Producer, The Washington Post TikTok Team), and Sam Wolfe (Account Strategist for Digital Marketing, Google).
Boykin talked about the process of trends and told us to always try to write a handwritten thank you note. Wolfe was the last speaker of the week, as well as the youngest. He was very down-to-earth and relatable. Lamb did his speech like a town hall meeting and went to us with the microphone. I even got to ask Lamb what it was like recording and witnessing the chaos of when we didn’t have a Speaker of the House. His answer was truly iconic, saying it was the best footage they’ve aired.
Part of the reason why I questioned myself and journalism so much was that I was one out of 300 student journalists there. It felt like everyone had great questions to ask the speakers and if I had one, the question was asked before I could. As we dived more and more into journalism, I started feeling as if I was too opinionated. I felt what made my articles have that ‘spark’ was my personal touch, and we were being told that was exactly what not to do. At our mixer, I confided in Megan Tucker (Communication Faculty at George Mason) and told her my conundrum. She addressed my concerns saying she dealt with the same thing when she was a journalist and the company she worked for, there was less control about opinions. We then talked about our mutual love for all things Taylor Swift and the Royal Family.
D.C. is not only filled with powerful people, but also extraordinary sights like the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. On Monday, we visited Planet Word, a museum filled with word-based activities such as listening to speeches or guessing the word, where we saw Randi Richardson (Reporter, NBC and TODAY) speak and did karaoke. Later that night, we had the Moonlight Monument Tour which consisted of the World War 2 Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, and the Washington Monument. It made me truly cherish Washington, as I had never seen anything like it before.
We also saw the White House, which was a bit underwhelming as it didn’t have the excitement of Biden potentially being in there, since he was out of the country. We also were not able to stay for long, and we were rushed away pretty quickly.
Speaking of impressive buildings and powerful people, my favorite day was Thursday when I had my congressional appointment with Senator Kevin Cramer at the Senate Hart building. I was an hour early due to the good ol’ buddy system (so we wouldn’t be kidnapped), so I spent it chatting with his secretary and Fargo native, Bridget Henne.
Once it was time, two of Cramer’s staff, Laura Fetzer and Katherine Gladitsch, took me to meet him at the capitol building as he had a committee meeting. When we met him there, he was gracious enough to let me record the interview. The whole ordeal made me love journalism so much more because I could connect with people whom I never thought I would be able to meet. For example, I have Henne’s personal phone number because we bonded over our love of North Dakota and being both Fargo natives.
All in all, it was probably the best experience of my life. I made connections and lifelong friendships. This conference made me question myself and journalism, yet made me love journalism even more.

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About the Contributor
Grace Schmidt
Grace Schmidt, Writer
Hi! I'm Grace and this is my second year in journalism! I want to continue in college and in the future! It's been one of the best experiences of my life. I'm a huge Taylor Swift fan and even went to her concert, which was life altering. Currently I am in a fight to get the Spartan Scroll funding.
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    Trina KrausOct 6, 2023 at 9:27 pm

    Great write up Grace! I was happy to be your faculty member!