Columbia Scholastic Press Association

A brief glimpse into the 94th annual CSPA Spring Convention

This year was the 94th annual Columbia Scholastic Press Association at Columbia University in New York City. Schools from all around the country, including Rye’s Web Journalism and Yearbook classes, traveled to Manhattan to attend the three day seminar. I went on Wednesday, March 14, and sat through three presentations on the subject of journalism. Here’s a brief rundown of the day.

High School Press Freedom

The first class I went to was called “High School Press Freedom” and was taught by Mike Hiestand of the Student Press Law Center. The SPLC is an outreach center for student journalists whose work has been censored by their school administrators. We learned of a few major Supreme Court cases regarding the rights of student journalists, including Tinker vs Des Moines and Hazelwood vs Kuhlmeier. In Tinker, the Supreme Court ruled that “school officials could not censor student speech unless it disrupted the educational process” (ACLU). However, twenty years later, Hazelwood somewhat overruled the case when the Supreme Court decided that “the decision of the school principal to prohibit the publishing of certain articles deemed to be inappropriate does not violate the student journalists’ First Amendment right of freedom of speech” (United States Courts). Hazelwood is somewhat controversial, and 14 states have passed anti-Hazelwood laws; New York not being one of them. Overall, the 45 minute presentation was very informative because it’s always important to be aware of your rights, but it was slightly boring.

“High School Press Freedom” took place in a classroom in the Greene Hall law building.

Confessions of Former High School Journalism Nerds

The next session took place in the Columbia Journalism building and was called “Confessions of Former High School Journalism Nerds.” Hosted by Mike Simons, a wedding photographer, a panel of journalists answered questions on the subjects of majoring in journalism in college and finding jobs. The four panelists, who have degrees from Ball State, Northwestern, Penn State, and Syracuse, all now work as professional journalists for companies including Teen Vogue and Hearst. They gave helpful advice on how to make a name for yourself in the competitive industry, which includes applying for internships to make connections and having the guts to cold-email companies.  I found the presentation very interesting, but since I have no idea what I want to major in, the information was not entirely useful to me.

“Confessions of Former High School Journalism Nerds” took place in Columbia’s famous Journalism building in one of the lecture halls.

From Zero to 60 in Six Months

In order to catch the bus, we only stayed for one more session, which took place from 1:30 to 2:15. The final class I attended, “From Zero to 60 in Six Months,” was taught by Karl Grubaugh, a journalism teacher at Granite Bay High School in California. He gave us extremely relevant advice on how to grow our website’s following. His tips included everything from creating an active Twitter account to taking advantage of big stories to publishing fresh content every day. I found his presentation both incredibly useful and entertaining, and it was my favorite of the day.

The presentation for “From Zero to 60 in Six Months” was in the Columbia Mathematics building.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I really enjoyed CSPA! When we weren’t in a classroom, we were able to explore the stunning campus, grab lunch, and visit the bookstore. Despite the freezing cold weather, it was an enjoyable and informative day. I cannot wait to return to the convention next year!