Washington, D.C. – Contrary to the daily drumbeat of news reports about the demise of journalism in the United States, a recent gathering of collegiate journalists had a decidedly upbeat and positive tone. The Institute on Political Journalism’s conference, “Politics, the Press & the Economy: A 21st Century Roadmap for Young Journalists” brought together journalism students from 41 colleges and universities from across the United States, which was held from Nov. 13-14, 2009.
One of the conference participants, Ross Derosier, news editor for the Lakeland Mirror at Lakeland College in Sheboygan, Wisc. said, “I came to Washington unsure of what to expect and on the fence about pursing journalism as a career. I returned to Wisconsin an advocate for the industry. I learned a ton and met some really great people. It was a great weekend!” Many more students expressed similar sentiments.
The conference featured working journalists from Washington, D.C. and New York City. Friday night’s keynote address featured Jim VandeHei, executive editor and co-founder of Poltitico – the fastest growing and most innovative news operation in the country. VandeHei stressed that young journalists were being presented with a golden opportunity to shape the very future of the news business. While the old business models are certainly fading away and the challenges facing the news industry are very real, VandeHei said he was extremely optimistic about the future.
IPJ Director Joe Starrs said the theme of the conference dovetailed nicely with current events and with one of the core missions of The Fund for American Studies.
“With the economy being THE story of the year, we thought it was important for young people to hear from veteran journalists who cover business and economics issues. In addition our goal is always to help students have a deeper understanding of economic issues and how these are tied to every day freedoms that we enjoy.”
The conference also featured speakers like Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Bill Adair from the St. Petersburg Times, world-renowned investigative journalist Richard Behar, and Bruce Becker, the Washington Bureau Chief for the Fox Business Network.
The conference included a variety of panel discussions, including: “How to be a better economic reporter,” “Tips and Techniques for becoming an Investigative Reporter,” “The Future of the News Business” and “The search for honest Journalism.”
Panelists included IPJ alums, Nikole Killion from Heart Argyle Television, Dr. Kimberly Meltzer from Georgetown University, Aaron David from The Washington Post and Dr. Mark Grabowski from Adelphi University in New York. A number of IPJ Board of Visitors did their part by hosting panel discussions and presentations, including IPJ BOV Chairman John Farley, Mary Lynn Jones, and Robert Bluey.
Over 18 IPJ alumni attended Friday night’s banquet with Jim VadeHei. Jessica Taylor (J 05) spoke to the students about her experience with IPJ and about her new position at Politico, where she’ll be starting a new project dealing with the 2010 elections.