“Whoah. We’ve done all of that, and it’s only Tuesday?”
Just as awestruck as I am, one of my new friends from WJMC couldn’t have explained my feelings more exactly. In no more than two days, we have experienced a tour of The Newseum (including incredible artifacts on display, such as the mangled antenna of the North Tower of the World Trade Center and a piece of the Berlin Wall) and sight-seeing at The Washington Monument, WWII Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, FDR Memorial, and White House.
However, D.C. itself is merely a backdrop for the incredible personalities that have spoken to us over the past few days. Those who spoke to the conference include Candy Crowley (Chief Political Correspondent for CNN), Brian Lamb (Executive Chairman and founder of C-SPAN), Jamie Smith (Executive VP of Media Strategies for Edelman), Michael Shear (White House Correspondent for The New York Times), and Ed Henry (Chief White House Correspondent for Fox News). Many of these reporters had polar-opposite views when it came to ideology, and it was amazing to see what each person brought to the table and how they could use their own experiences in the journalism field to give us advice.
Although every speaker captivated our attention, Hoda Kotb (Co-Host of the Fourth Hour of “Today” on NBC) truly lit up the room as soon as she walked in. Making us both laugh and cry as she told of her struggles to reach her dreams in broadcast journalism, Kotb was a role model for many and inspired all. Looking back at her early career, Kotb spoke about her failed attempts to get a job at 27 news stations before finding position and then asked, “Do you know who will make it in journalism? People who never quit…Be nice and work hard. You don’t have to stab people to make your way up.”
As I think about everything I’ve experienced in the last few days, I truly feel like I have gained weeks worth of memories, textbooks worth of knowledge, and innumerable connections. The opportunity to experience the best sight-seeing Washington can offer and some of the best reporters that modern journalism can offer is one that cannot be replaced or forgotten.