Today, much like any other day at the Washington Journalism and Media Conference, was jam-packed with stimulating and thought-provoking activities. We began the day with an early morning breakfast, slightly less rushed than yesterday’s meal.
Following breakfast, we made our way to the Mason Arlington, where we heard from C-SPAN network’s Brian Lamb. His take on the speech was much different than any other we had heard this week. Instead of giving his background in the career, followed by an in-depth Q and A session, he turned the meeting around by questioning us as beginning journalists. Although I had been warned by others of his method of presentation, I must admit, I was still shocked. He questioned not only our reasoning behind attending this conference and our passion for journalism, but also what we truly want to gain from being a reporter. Ultimately it came down to truth or money. Eventually, we will all come to a point in our lives where we have to decide what we want from journalism, be it a large salary or reporting for the sole purpose of sharing the truth. The answers given by some of my fellow corespondents offered me much of a surprise, as each answer and the logic which supported it differed entirely.
The discussion we had with Michael Shear, a White House Correspondent for The New York Times, was yet another style of speech. His overall form was much like that of Lamb, with us being questioned, but it was geared more towards the political aspect of the convention. We received an inside look at his recent tour of Africa with President Obama, along with a “how to” session on how to be successful in the career. Although he doesn’t see much of a future for the written paper, he advised us to keep up with the social qualities of journalism, as that would be the future of journalism. Shear was meant to be accompanied by Josh Earnest, a Special Assistant to the President and Principal Deputy Press Secretary, but instead spoke to us solo. Even missing the voice of a second journalism star, the speech was still outstanding.
Leaving Mason Arlington, we headed to D.C to witness more speakers inside of the National Press Club. Being inside of a building with so much history was a miracle in itself, not to mention the great speeches which took place there. First, we heard from the National Press Club Politics Panel, who shared the history of the club and their experiences in the field. Something that caught me off-guard by what they told us was that most of them had gained success without ever having studied the art of journalism in college. This was something I had never truly considered before, that I could pursue journalism without actually studying it. I’m not saying that this is my plan, as journalism is a passion of mine which I hope to continue learning from on a daily basis, but it is surely something to take into consideration.
The final speaker of the night was one that everyone had been looking forward to since the week began: Hoda Kotb! Witnessing her speech was an incredible experience that definitely exceeded my expectations. Hearing her stories of rejection and later success gave me just the inspiration I need to continue pursuing journalism. I will admit, I’ve had my doubts in the past about the career. Will I ever be successful? Will I be good enough? Is my writing even worth it? But hearing from Hoda allowed me to realize that although I may not get these answers right away, if I keep pushing forward, it might just turn out in my favor. All we need is one person to believe in us; there’s a Stan out there for all of us. And overall, the best skill we can posses as a journalist is that of an exceptional listener and observer. We must keep our eyes open for our moment of success because we don’t want to miss it. Hoda inspired me to be my best, and I hope to one day be just as successful as she has been.
To end the night, after dinner at Buca di Beppo of course, we went on a moonlight tour of the capital’s monuments. I must say, it was well worth the blisters and mosquito bites I have at this very moment. The nation’s capital is a true beauty!