“The Weekly’s” Editorial Board Attends St. Louis Journalism Conference


Photo credit: Harry Lowitz

“The Weekly” Editorial Board Sits In a Conference led by Cathy Kuhlmeier.

Upper School English teachers Alicia Abood and Kate Tabor took both members from both “the Weekly” and “The Record” editorial boards to a conference in Saint Louis ,November 10-13. The students included Weekly Editors-in-Chief junior Harry Lowitz, senior Eden Stranahan, senior Alya Satchu, Weekly Features Editor senior Samantha Graines, Weekly Opinions Editor junior Arjun Kalra, and Yearbook Editor senior Isabel Rodriguez

The conference they attended was the National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA) Fall Journalism Convention at the America’s Center Convention Complex. The NSPA is a national group of student journalists and journalism advisers. Its goal is to not only encourage better journalism but extend it to a high school or middle school level. 

“Parker had gone to the conference before this year, however, because of COVID-19, we have not been able to go,” Lowitz said. “The other Editors-in-Chief and I thought that we would revive the trip.”

The NSPA conference is put on to bring together different schools from around the country to talk about journalism. Some of the colleges represented include Northwestern Medill, the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Kansas, and the New York Film Academy College of Visual & Performing Arts.. 

No one on the trip had ever been to the conference before except for “Weekly” faculty advisor Kate Tabor, who was on her third trip. “We learn so much, and it’s great to be with scholastic journalists from around the country,” she said. “We are able to meet with our advising counterparts at other independent schools. It’s really great professional development for the members of the staff and the advisers. Travel challenges with the pandemic halted our attendance for a few years.” 

This year the planning for the trip was started late because of the uncertainty with COVID. The process involves getting the go-ahead from administration, polling “the Weekly” Editorial Board to see who is interested, and putting together a plan for travel and accommodations.

According to Rodriguez, the students would wake up around eight, head over to the conference, and participate in back-to-back lectures until 2 p.m. “Going as the only person on the yearbook, it was really interesting to hear about the sessions people from “the Weekly” went to and compare,” Rodriguez said. “I also felt responsible to take notes for the other people in the yearbook so I could share what I learned as accurately as possible.”

“I think some of the best lectures that I attended were on censorship,” Lowitz said. “I think that this is a very important thing not just in journalism in general but specifically at Parker. I think that press freedom within a school is a complicated issue.”

“This year I told the staff that I would go to the super wonky sessions, so I learned about libel law and the invasion of privacy, I met so many other independent school newspaper advisers, and I attended a number of sessions about staff development,” Tabor said. “I was also able to attend a session about diversity, equity, and inclusion in scholastic journalism, and I am happy to say that we are participating in a pilot program to produce an audit of DEIB and the Weekly.”

The travelers also took some time to look around St. Louis after the conference each day. Lowitz recalled walking around Washington University in St. Louis one night and getting some “really good” Asian food. “It was great because we were able to interact beyond the conference,” Abood said. “One of the things that I loved so much was the fact that I got to have real conversations with students where I was not giving them a grade at the end of the semester. I would definitely go on this trip again for the knowledge from the conference but also for the opportunity to connect and talk to students inside and outside of Parker.”

“I definitely think that the SCOUT heads should go to the NSPA conference trip next year,” SCOUT editor senior Rania Jones said. “From what I heard, the courses, like censorship for example, were applicable to all publications and I’m glad that the invitation was opened to us. I totally think that from the beginning of next year, at least one SCOUT Editor-in-Chief should plan on going and SCOUT could be eligible for some super-exciting awards, too.”

Rodriguez thought the conference would have a lot of great resources for SCOUT editors relating to creative layouts and designs. 

Abood believes that more Parker publications should be invited in the future, provided that some logistics are worked out relating to increased attendance numbers.

Lowitz agrees. “I think that it would be great to have SCOUT editors join us on the trip. I really think that it is not only a trip about putting together a newspaper but any media in general,” he said. “Anyone could go and have an amazing time and learn a lot.”

“I’d have to look at the number of sessions geared to feature magazine production. I know that we would like to open this to the editorial staff of The Record,” Tabor said. “Planning has started for next year.”