NorCal students connect at journalism conference


Aylin Salahifar

A student participates in a photography workshop during JEA NorCal Media Day.

At the annual Journalism Education Association (JEA) NorCal Media Day, students from all over Northern California met with industry professionals and learned how to improve their journalism skills.

Hosted at Palo Alto High School on Sept. 28, this year’s Media Day was a free event for high schoolers to learn journalism techniques from professionals and participate in contests to showcase their work.

Throughout the day, students were offered a variety of workshops, of which they chose four to attend. The sessions included topics on design, photography, sports, social media, and much more.

“The insight and new perspectives I gained from going to these sessions really help me improve as an editor,” said Emma Romanowsky, a Carlmont senior.

Emma Scott
Students listen intently to a session on reporting and interviewing by Peter Heartlaub.

For many students and teachers who attend, the conference is an opportunity for them to be a part of a broader community of reporters. Teachers impart their skills onto the newly budding and veteran student journalists alike, while students bond over their shared experiences as aspiring journalists.

JEA, a non-profit organization, has been promoting high school journalism since 1924 and has grown to a national level. The NorCal section had approximately 400 students attending this year alone.

For University Preparatory sophomore Alexandra Rozmarin, these types of conferences are a great way to apply the skills she learns in the sessions in a more competitive setting.

“Last year, I attended a super fun lesson on feature writing, and also won an honorable mention in the feature writing contest. This motivated me to continue to apply the things I learn in my journalistic work,” Rozmarin said.

However, the day was not entirely dedicated to journalism. There was also pizza, snacks, a live jazz band, and a fun spike ball tournament to keep both students and teachers engaged.

Aylin Salahifar
Brian Wilson gives introductory speech to 400 students from different schools in the Palo Alto High School Media Arts Center.

For teachers and speakers such as Kristy Blackburn, NorCal Media Day is an incredibly valuable opportunity to educate students.

“Even though events like these are stressful to put together, they are worth it for the students,” said Blackburn, a journalism adviser at Gunn High School.

Aylin Salahifar
Students play in a tournament of spike ball as part of a lesson on sports photography.

Event coordinator and current president of JEA NorCal, Brian Wilson, has known he had a passion for journalism since his high school days. Through events like the NorCal Media Day, Wilson puts his passion toward educating the next generation of reporters and providing students with the best sessions possible.

“I love the idea of students being excited by other students and teachers who are just as passionate about journalism as they are,” Wilson said.

Aylin Salahifar
Students enjoy pizza and make new friendships during lunchtime at JEA Media Day.

In the future, Wilson hopes to retain the attendees from this year’s conference and gain more in the future by offering more speakers and topics. He also wants to get more students involved in the competition aspect of the conference.

His improvement-focused mindset is targeted toward better preparing student journalists for the real world.

“One thing that we really try to emphasize with the journalists of tomorrow is that they have one of the most important jobs in the world, which will only continue to grow in importance in the future,” Wilson said.