The Big Apple welcomes The Agora

The Agora staff got the chance to meet the country’s top journalists, walk around Central Park, see Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” and experience the site of the 911 tragedy all in one weekend.

Nine members of the Agora staff traveled to New York City March 12-16 to attend the College Media Advisers Spring National Convention journalism conference.

The convention gave students the opportunity to learn about all aspects of journalism—from designing pages to interviewing techniques.

It offered several one-hour sessions a day, over the span of three days, that were put on by journalists from around the country. The conference featured keynote speakers like Brian Stelter, a media reporter for the New York Times, and Terry Moran, the co-anchor of ABC News’ “Nightline.”

Among those impressed by the convention was Agora Editor-in-Chief Jennifer Niswender.

“My favorite part about the National Spring Convention, besides New York City, was that I was given a chance to tour one of the best and biggest newspapers in the country, The New York Times,” Niswender said.

“It was so amazing to be able to see a real live newsroom and hear about the tools and techniques of publishing the daily newspaper.”

Agora copy-editor and reporter, Asia Rapai, also enjoyed the convention.

“After each session, we could ask the presenters for their contact information,” Rapai said. “This was probably the best part of going to the conference. Especially in journalism, it is super important to network.”

“In this conference, we were given a chance to connect with so many different types of professionals who were all willing to offer their knowledge and support.”

Rapai was especially impressed by a session put on by a few women from a small town in Virginia who went on to work in New York City.

“They showed that through their hard work, they made it to the big city and are successfully working in a field and city that they love,” she said.

“After the session, I was all excited. I went up to the women, got their contact information, and thanked them over and over again for showing me that I could really achieve everything I’ve been dreaming of for such a long time.”

The trip was an experience for the Agora staff on a personal, professional, and cultural level, said MCCC Agora Adviser Dan Shaw.

“On a personal level, students get to experience living and working in New York City for five days,” Shaw said.

“On the professional level, the students are exposed to dozens of top-flight journalists and journalism educators from around the country. They get to sit in a fairly small, intimate room with people like the multi-media editor of the New York Times and the design editor of the Washington Post. That’s an amazing opportunity.”

The trip was a cultural experience as well, he said, with the students having visited three New York City museums—The Museum of Modern Art, the American Museum of Natural History, and the 911 Tribute Center.

“Imagine looking into the crater that was the World Trade Center in the afternoon, staring at Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” masterpiece that night, then ogling the first brontosaurus mounted in a museum the next day,” Shaw said.

For Agora Web Editor and staff reporter, Danny Shaw, this trip was his first to a big city.

“Going from small-town Monroe to big-city New York was a wake-up call. We are missing out on so much diversity and culture,” he said.

“Inspiration seemed to find me at every street corner, on every subway train and in every skyscraper– it made my life goals grow in size.”

“During the trip it was nice to get to know everyone on staff with all titles aside,” Jennifer Niswender said. “We all got to bond just like best friends.”

Adviser Shaw said that half the fun of the trip was watching the students have fun, learn, and experience New York.

“From the look on their face when they walk out of the subway into Times Square for the first time, to the late-night discussions about how to improve The Agora, it’s immensely rewarding for me, just to be part of it.”

The trip inspired Asia Rapai.

“The sessions were really motivating and gave me inspiration to continue to challenge myself,” she said. “The experience reinforced the fact that I want to learn everything I can about journalism, so that I can be as successful as possible in my future career.”