Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Practical experience proves valuable

Being an educator can be a detached career, sometimes we forget what it is like to be in the trenches and get dirty. I am true believer of proving that I am not above doing something that I ask of my team. Well today was a battle day and I was going in. At 2:45pm the 34 advisers of the ASNE Reynolds Institute anxiously entered the First Amendment Forum armed with notepads, pens, digital cameras and some a voice recorder.

ASNE Reynolds Institute Director Steve Elliott took the stage to introduce our speaker who we were to pellet with questions. The guest speaker, 44 year veteran of the Washington Post, Supervising Editor during Watergate and 25 time recipient of the Pulitzer award, Leonard Downey Jr.

Yeah this was going to be an easy task. Okay reporting plan who, what, where, when, why and how. After a brief introduction and a few warm up questions it was the advisers turn. The microphone was passed around, as we eagerly asked our questions ranging from journalism advisers role to accountability of media outlets. Each of the advisers feverishly took notes hoping to remember what he or she had scratched down in such a hurry. In between questions we each took turns jockeying for positions and angles of photos of Downey and then back to the notepad.

At the conclusion of the question and answer session, part two of the battle plan was announced. Much like George C. Scott in Patton, Elliott instructed the advisers we had two hours to construct an article on the interview that consisted of 350-450 words and edited photos.

It was the quickest 120 minutes that I have ever experienced. In this instance I discovered that when creating deadlines, there are many obstacles to overcome. However, when push comes to shove deadlines are a driving force. As Downey said “Journalism is a calling.”

Brent Manuel
Pleasant Valley High
Chico, Calif.

Above photo: Leonard Downey Jr. fields questions from teachers at the ASNE Reynolds Institute in the First Amendment Forum of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication

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