Reflections on Excellence in Journalism Conference


Photo Courtesy of The Prairie News Staff (Left to right) Advisor Dr. Nancy Garcia, Senior Reporter Jeffrey Williams, Sports Editor Alyssa Gonzales and Features Editor Savannah Wesley at the EIJ National Conference in the Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Antonio, Texas.

On Sept. 5 through 7, The Prairie News Staff attended the Excellence in Journalism 2019 Conference for the first time that was held in San Antonio, Texas. Advisor Dr. Nancy Garcia, Sports Editor Alyssa Gonzales, Features Editor Savannah Wesley and Senior Reporter Jeffrey Williams were those who participated in workshops and met with media professionals while at the three day event. 

Savannah Wesley – Features Editor: 

Intent on bringing back as much information to WTAMU as we could, we were armed with notebooks and pens at the ready. We all attended different workshops and seminars all detailing different aspects, rules, and how to’s of journalism. The conference also expanded on new ideas on how to create a safer media, one that was more ethical, inclusive and reported more on solutions. The goal was to talk about the problem being presented and bring more awareness to it while expressing what is also being done about the problem. Safety of journalists was a large concern and a seminar taught by a former first responder turned journalist helped to provide information to reporters about how to be safe on the streets. The importance of combating biased reporting was popular and one of the suggestions was to do so through inclusive journalism. It was suggested that in order to successfully remove all bias when reporting was to actually embrace one’s biases, acknowledge them and then mitigate those biases during reporting. We also got the chance to meet with media professionals from all over the nation and establish connections with major media outlets.

Alyssa Gonzales – Sports Editor:

We walked into the Grand Hyatt with professional dress on and ready to learn. At first we were intimidated by the overwhelming amount of professionalism. However, with the assurance of fellow journalists, we were able to open up and ask all the questions we could to ensure that we would learn as much possible. We were fueled by McDonald’s chicken nuggets and free swag from various news outlets. One aspect that was constantly pushed throughout the conference was the importance of social media and telling stories through various media outlets. This is something that I really appreciated due to the fact that us here at The Prairie News want to reach as many people as possible through social media. We were able to meet many professionals within our field and take in a slew of useful information in the seminars. The experience at the EIJ Conference was something I will truly never forget.

Not only did I enjoy the vast amount of advice and information that I received, but also the time and memories made with the rest of The Prairie News Staff.

Jeffrey Williams – Senior Reporter:

The newest addition to The Prairie News team, the “Kid.” I, along with Alyssa and Savannah, sought to gain credible information to bring back with us to WTAMU. We are rebranding, starting a new venture into the purely digital world. In doing so, we as a team, attended seminars that would assist The Prairie News and would better ourselves as students and journalists. We had “the” Michael Jackson from Scripps take professional headshots for our portfolios. We met with industry leaders and representatives from different news organizations and wrote down every detail. We also learned of the new Lime scooter craze and ventured the downtown San Antonio streets. Almost struck by an oncoming bus, brave Alyssa did not falter, didn’t fear. Savannah, always leading, provided the structure and friendship that the group used, along with McDonald’s, to get through the long days and seminars. Dr. Garcia took care of us and made sure that we were gaining insight into journalism that a professional such as herself would know. The time we all spent at the convention and in San Antonio is invaluable. We will continue to strive to be better and help propel The Prairie News into this new age. And don’t forget to remember the Alamo.

At the end of the day, our hands were cramping from note taking and our feet were hurting from walking but every ounce of information was worth it. As a staff, we are appreciative of being able to attend such an important conference and bring that information back to WTAMU. The content learned will aid the education of the students of the Communications Department and establish connections with media professionals from across the nation.