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Students invited to professional journalism conference

Paw+Prints+staffers+Skyla+Segarra%2C+Alexis+Villavicencio%2C+Vanessa+Gomez%2C+Oliver+Bronstein%2C+and+Sophie+Hough+gather+after+the+closing+session+of+National+Newspaper+Publisher%27s+Association+mid-winter+conference+held+in+Ft.+Lauderdale.
Paw Prints staffers Skyla Segarra, Alexis Villavicencio, Vanessa Gomez, Oliver Bronstein, and Sophie Hough gather after the closing session of National Newspaper Publisher's Association mid-winter conference held in Ft. Lauderdale.

Paw Prints staffers Skyla Segarra, Alexis Villavicencio, Vanessa Gomez, Oliver Bronstein, and Sophie Hough gather after the closing session of National Newspaper Publisher's Association mid-winter conference held in Ft. Lauderdale.

Paw Prints staffers Skyla Segarra, Alexis Villavicencio, Vanessa Gomez, Oliver Bronstein, and Sophie Hough gather after the closing session of National Newspaper Publisher's Association mid-winter conference held in Ft. Lauderdale.

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The NNPA (National Newspaper Publishers Association), a group of African-American owned newspapers, invited five student journalists from each Broward County high school to attend a youth session at its mid-winter conference. The conference was held on Jan. 26 at the Hyatt Pier Sixty-Six hotel in Fort Lauderdale. Students, including members of the Paw Prints staff, learned journalism skills and issues related to civil rights. The organization’s mission is “strengthening black-owned newspapers through training, innovation and technology,” said president and NNPA CEO Benjamin F. Chavis.

Dr. Rosalind Osgood, Broward school board member, spoke of the ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) with intent to raise awareness. This was passed during the Obama administration, and it enhanced the Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind Act. The act allows the SAT or ACT to substitute standardized testing in high school, with the ACT being Osgood’s preference.

“I want you young people to pay attention to public policy,” Osgood said as she congratulated the students for attending the conference and showing interest in press. Reverend William J. Barber, a well known political leader and president of the NAACP chapter in North Carolina, spoke about the need to shine light on situations that negatively portray minorities without facts supporting the topic. Regardless of his opinion, he spoke on issues positively; he recited the ABC’s of positivity, which was a motivational phrase for each letter of the alphabet. He was recently interviewed on CNN about voter suppression.

“Voter suppression has been proven. Voter fraud has been disproven. The lie about voter fraud is a distraction from the truth about voter suppression, because voter suppression is about thievery. You scratch a liar, you’ll find a thief. Trump won because of the voter suppression that went on in the black community,” Barber said.

A panel of journalists followed by a panel of activists spoke to the convention audience. The journalists, consisting of Chida Darby, Cheryl Grace, Arriale Henry and Jeffrey Boney, discussed the importance of fact-checking, and the activists spoke out on racial issues and the significance of the press.

Students had the opportunity to walk up to a microphone and question both panels. Paw Prints opinion editor, senior Oliver Bronstein, addressed the activist panel.

“How can we get people to understand that the past relates to the present?” Bronstein asked. The response spoke on the fact people don’t realize how language affects others. “We need to redefine what these words mean,” the panelists said.

“I really liked how the students were able to interact with the speakers. We had the chance to speak our voice. It was also interesting to see students from different schools have opinions and perspectives on topics,” senior Sophie Hough said.

The conference spotlighted forms of journalism that students weren’t aware of. There was an emphasis on the importance in fact-checking and reporting on every event, being that those articles document history and change.

“[Talking to the panel] was exhilarating, but I’m glad I did it. I wrote down what I wanted to ask so I didn’t make a mistake when I asked it,” Bronstein said.

Staffers walked away recognizing the importance of their job as reporters to create an informed society amongst their peers and their community.

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