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Eagle's Eye

Mightier than the sword

Annual collegiate journalism conference gathers politicians, students and activists to express and celebrate the future of the Fourth Estate.

Eagle%E2%80%99s+Eye+editing+team+enjoys+sightseeing+in+Washington+D.C.+while+attending+the+annual+ACP+conference
Eagle’s Eye editing team enjoys sightseeing in Washington D.C. while attending the annual ACP conference

Eagle’s Eye editing team enjoys sightseeing in Washington D.C. while attending the annual ACP conference

Eagle’s Eye editing team enjoys sightseeing in Washington D.C. while attending the annual ACP conference

Kyly Clark, Photo Editor

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City bustle, historic monuments, keynote speakers, and election buzz highlighted the Eagle’s Eye staff’s recent trip to Washington D.C. Four student editors and the Sierra Nevada College newspaper advisor represented the small Eagle’s Eye team among 1,300 delegates at the largest gathering of college journalists and advisors in the world, according to www.studentpress.org.

The Associated Collegiate Press (ACP) National College Media Convention on Oct. 20-23 at the Grand Hyatt Washington included more than 200 sessions with expert advisors and media professionals connecting, enhancing, and inspiring journalism. Keynote speakers Edward Snowden, Bob Woodward, and Donna Brazile shared their professional experiences and shed light on the future of journalism.

“It was inspiring to hear from such well regarded people, to include both the keynote speakers and panelists, how much faith they place in this upcoming generation of journalists. Some of them, like Bob Woodward, proved how good, responsible journalism can literally change the nation,” said journalism Professor Alison Bender.

Snowden, a computer professional formerly employed by the Central Intelligence Agency, is known for leaking confidential details of classified United States government information from the National Security Agency on surveillance programs used to collect millions of unsuspecting Americans’ private records. He is facing allegations of espionage and theft of government property. Having received many awards for social justice and courageous acts, he serves on the board of the Freedom of the Press Foundation and has stirred a controversial debate about our roles as citizens and obligations to protect the First Amendment.

Exiled from the United States, Snowden spoke to the biggest turnout of audience members in ACP history via live video feed from a green screen studio that he set up. At no point did he tell his current location. Snowden spent over an hour answering questions asked by student journalists. He believes that the issue of cybersecurity is not just relevant in America but globally, stating that “We are living in the greatest crisis of computer technology ever.”

Eagle’s Eye News Editor Jackson Heath said, “I’ve read a lot about Snowden. I’d seen some of the speeches that he’s done, but to really see him live even though he wasn’t there, and to have him speak to us directly, that was pretty powerful.”

Although Snowden is not a journalist, he plays a large role in the effectiveness and proximity of the success of journalism. “His role in journalism is vital, because he’s a source,” Heath said. “He was one of the biggest sources that Mr. Greenwald could have had for a story regarding the mass surveillance of Americans. Free media is the last hope of protection that we have in our country so that we have the most truthful and factual evidence.”

Heath noted Snowden’s emphasis on the importance of journalism as our last protection when checks and balances in the system begin to fail. “If the Congress fails, journalism must prevail,” said Snowden. He talked about when, where, and how to contest the government’s monopoly control over U.S. citizens, and that the government is less concerned with protecting national security then personal orthodox.

His advice to students was to “keep reading, and not just about what you agree with because that holds you back.”

Bob Woodward also spoke about the public’s right to know. An investigative journalist who won a Pulitzer Prize for his work with Carl Bernstein on the Watergate scandal, Woodward is known as half of the pair that brought down President Nixon in 1974. He won a second Pulitzer in 2002 for his post 9/11 coverage. Having worked for the Washington Post since 1971, he is now an associate editor. Woodward shared how important it is, especially for the millennial generation “to show up,” meaning that it’s important for reporters to knock on doors and be present when events occur. He considers “showing up” to be one of the three pillars of information along with documents and human sources. Woodward also shared the Washington Post’s motto “all good work is done in defiance of management,” a sentiment that Snowden echoed.

Sports editor Francesca Curtolo said, “Bob Woodward embodies good journalism, accuracy, and hunger for the truth. After hearing him, I am questioning the motivation of journalists, and the role of media in society. In this context, D.C. was a perfect location to see through my eyes what the media has done for the formation of American society and how it is facing a troubled period with the election. However, I walk away with much hope, and I thank Donna Brazile for that. As she said, we are the generation that can and should step up, and our voice will be heard.”

As the first African American to run a presidential campaign, Brazile is a Democratic political strategist and the interim chair-person of the Democratic National Committee. Along with many other professions, Brazile is a dedicated speaker at over 150 colleges and universities across the country. She has spoken about civility in politics, women in American politics, diversity, and race relations. She discussed the recent accusations that she leaked questions to Hillary Clinton prior to the final debate and claimed she was “grilled like a red fish coming out of the Mississippi River.” Her sassy approach to the lecture was real, while stressing personal privacy of information and stating that “I love my country, but this was not on my bucket list.” She said she will be retiring if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency.

“This is the most volatile and disruptive election I have ever witnessed in my lifetime,” said Brazile. She urged students to talk about the mood of the country, why people are upset and angry, and why citizens aren’t talking about the first-ever woman president. Brazile connected with the students in the audience, sharing her belief in the millennial generation to be “the generation we have been waiting for.” She acknowledged our power as the generation with the majority of voters. “You’re the Viagra; you keep raising it higher and higher.”

Managing editor Jamie Wanzek said, “This year’s ACP conference had a centralized theme calling journalists to action. All of the speakers– Brazile, Woodward and Snowden– encouraged and challenged the young journalists to illuminate the stories that aren’t being told. Their collective plea for the next generation of journalists was quite powerful.”

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Mightier than the sword