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Reflections on the Dallas convention

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by Cyndi Hyatt
Everything really
is BIG in Texas.

And the 2017 JEA/NSPA convention in Dallas was no exception. More than 5,000 attendees celebrated student journalism.  I was awed and inspired by the BIG voices of the student journalists whose passion and enthusiasm for what they do is more important than ever.

The Dallas conference was full of students from California to Pennsylvania, from Texas to Minnesota, who love student media and who understand the importance of being able to use their voices. Student journalists inquire and investigate; they initiate and sometimes they irritate (especially those who find the truth uncomfortable and threatening), but they enthusiastically find and tell stories that are engaging and important to not only fellow students but to us all.

Look at the Pittsburg Six from the Booster Redux newspaper in Kansas whose investigative initiative led to discovering their high school principal falsified her credentials. They are a perfect example of BIG student journalists at their best: their weeks-long investigation and subsequent story led to the resignation of their new principal.

What a difference their voices made.  

In Dallas students gathered at sessions to hone their skills and to learn from the pros, advisers and even fellow student journalists. They attended sessions on photojournalism, interviewing, writing, reporting and converging.  Even more importantly, they learned how to be ethical with their voices and about what they can say without administrative interference. At the end of the conference they left bolstered with new and sharpened skills and a strengthened inspiration for telling stories and telling them well.

Student journalists: continue to GO BIG with your voices. And never forget the 45 words that protect you and allow you to keep your voices healthy and loud, alive and proud.

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