Capturing the conference: the Voice D.C. conference trip

Photo collage by Carmen Cheng, Photos by Carmen Cheng and Michael Mishler | Washtenaw Voice

Photo collage by Carmen Cheng, Photos by Carmen Cheng and Michael Mishler | Washtenaw Voice

The Voice Staff traveled to Washington D.C. Oct. 20-23 to attend the Associated Collegiate Conference and brought back our thoughts to share. Enjoy!


Protecting free speech

Michael Mishler

One topic that has garnered much attention in the world of colleges is the First Amendment, which grants freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Over the past couple decades, multiple organizations have stepped up to defend free speech and free press rights on college campuses. One such organization is the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). Founded in 1999, FIRE will confront colleges that make a “red light” list, meaning that students have submitted complaints regarding violations of free speech at the institution. As Catherine Sevcenko, FIRE’s Director of Litigation, said, “What we do all day is sue universities that violate your first amendment rights, so you’re welcome!”
Sevcenko then presented various examples of the most egregious violations FIRE has dealt with. Often, the colleges that concern FIRE are public colleges with “speech codes,” or regulations that directly restrict what students or faculty can say. Sevcenko elaborated that all public colleges are obligated to allow and even encourage any and all free speech at their schools. She quoted a pivotal Supreme Court decision, Healy v. James (1972): “The vigilant protection of constitutional freedoms is nowhere more vital than in the community of American schools.”
Anyone can submit a complaint to FIRE via their website, and they will investigate the claim and take appropriate action.

Hunt for justice leads to capital

Ivan Flores
Staff Writer

Mexican whine. It’s a pun that was born out of a long wait for food at a crowded D.C. restaurant. But it’s more than a joke to me. My voice, along with millions of other undocumented immigrants’ voices fighting for immigration reform, is drowned out on the national stage.

There are countless other issues taking precedence: police brutality, income inequality, the dignity of black lives, gun control, taxes, national debt, energy independence, wars in the Middle East… the list goes on and on. Whatever we have to say comes across as the whine of people generalized as Mexicans asking for something we don’t deserve.

Journalists have a duty to hold institutions accountable when they don’t serve the public interest. Our keynote speakers at the ACP were all on that chain of accountability.

Donna Brazile, the interim chair of the Democratic Party, spoke to us after hacked emails revealed she had tipped the Clinton campaign about questions in primary debates.

There was Bob Woodward, who (with Carl Bernstein) broke the Watergate story and ultimately forced Richard Nixon to resign.

Edward Snowden spoke. Whether you consider him a hero or traitor, there is no doubt that his revelations forced the U.S. to change illegal surveillance policies targeting American citizens.

Then there was an obscure journalist who has been trying to hold the entire nation accountable on the subject of immigration: Jose Vargas.

Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize recipient. He won the award for reporting on the Virginia Tech shooting back in 2008. He’s worked for the Huffington Post and the Washington Post. He’s also an undocumented immigrant from the Philippines. Yes, that means he’s illegal.

Bill O’Reilly once greeted Vargas on Fox News with “It’s good to see they haven’t deported you, but you don’t deserve to be here.”

So, who deserves to be here? With the exception of veterans and those in the military, who among us has done anything to deserve the benefits of being an American? How do we even define American?

Vargas has been exploring this issue through his organization, Define American. The website holds thousands short videos of Americans explaining what it means to be American. The goal is simple: have a discussion so we can make progress on issues like immigration. Eventually, to have immigration reform.

Why does this matter? America’s history is intertwined with prejudice. In social psychology, it is defined as a negative attitude towards an individual based solely on that person’s presumed membership in a group. When it’s not conscious, it’s called implicit bias. Prejudice is the product of feeling threatened, preference of our own group, and an internalized world view.

When we antagonize immigrants and ignore their plight, we fall into the same trap, the same thought process, that leads to police brutality, profiling, illegal surveillance, and gun violence. Defining “American” is an exercise to break free from a flawed human nature.

Knowing this doesn’t mean that anything will change for those of us already here. Old habits are hard to break. According to Vargas, the journey to immigration reform will be slow, especially while our voices continue to go unheard. But like so many other fights for justice, it will end in the Washington D.C.

A flow of genius

Jenelle Franklin

Through way of the keynote speakers: Donna Brazile, Bob Woodward, Edward Snowden and Jose Antonio Vargas, inspiration for future journalism and reports of journalistic heroism were shared between speakers and students through speeches and question and answer sessions.

I took away the thought of the future to come, the thought that we can progress and not let our industry die, as some would claim to be its fate. I see that through the Newseum, there will be places to find journalists who are honored for paying the ultimate price to share and instill freedom of the press worldwide.

As an editor, I was urged to lead The Voice with pride and respect for the personalities that make up our lives, We may find we have differences but we can create a stronger future when we combine them for the greater good of all; it takes all kinds to make this world go round.

Outside the ACP conferences, we captured some breathtaking views at monuments built for great men and women of our past and enjoyed the architecture looming overhead.

All in all, Washington D.C. was a flow of genius, the buildings lining the streets surrounding the hotel captivated my attention with their patina and intricate carvings in the towering stone columns. Some department storefronts resembled well kept museums and at restaurants we ate inside old bank buildings, with original marble vaulted ceilings.

Things I’ve learned

Natalie Allinger
Graphic Designer

The trip to D.C. was a fantastic learning experience. The amazing keynote speakers of Donna Brazile, Bob Woodward, Edward Snowden and Jose Antonio Vargas were spectacular to listen to. One of the main things I took away from this trip was when it comes to newspaper design, you have the freedom to make something huge on the page if you want, or just designing it in general you can design it anyway you want to make it stand out . I’m really grateful I got the chance to go to the Newseum. The Newseum had a lot of history I was able to look at and enjoy while there.

The evolution of the source

Jenee Gregor
Deputy Editor

Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein uncovered the scandal that imprinted an ideal on journalists of mine and future generations to come. It was the pinnacle of investigative journalism that really brought to awareness the idea of holding politicians and those in office accountable.

Journalists and media are supposed to be art of the checks and balances as they catch the slips and call them forward. There is a distinct distrust in media that has been brewing for some time, which can likely be related to who owns the American media outlets.

But we still require sources, whistle blowers, slips of paper and diligent people to make these stories come to the forefront. Just like Edwards Snowden, a whistleblower and CIA ex-employee came forward with the secrets of the NSA and CIA in 2013.

The source of Watergate, stayed anonymous until his death, but with the evolution of technology now, could it even be possible?

Edward Snowden went into hiding, well exile and still remains, the sacrifice that requires for the people of the world to know those secrets.

The source seems to be the star of the journey and the journalists an afterthought, but might that be the point? Journalists are the messengers, and the wordsmiths that take pieces of information and create the mosaic of truth for the masses.

I heard remarkable keynote speakers and found a world of inspiration at the convention in Washington D.C.

New writer, new inspiration

Brittany Dekorte
Staff Writer

The conference had a lot of panels that I, as a new journalist, found very helpful. One was the presentation on the rules around the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA. I didn’t realize before just how useful FOIA could be for me, even as a student writer. There was also a lecture on building a good portfolio, which taught me a lot, and I hope it will help when I start my job search. My favorite lecture was on working creative descriptions into your writing, which I hope to utilize once I get more into feature writing.

Once in a lifetime experience

Dorothy Gacioch
Graphic Designer

I feel so lucky and fortunate to have had the great opportunity to attend this year’s ACP National College Media Convention in Washington DC. There really is no better place to learn about media than the Nation’s Capital, and so near election time, to boot! The design sessions I attended filled my brain with valuable tools and information, ranging from time saving tips and efficiency, to communication between web designers and print designers in the news room. My favorite sessions included advice on getting a career after college—as I approach my final year, I am hungry for any pointers on networking and building a presence for myself, and left with many suggestions and recommendations.

I can’t express my excitement enough about the outstanding keynote speakers I had the chance to see and listen to—Donna Brazile, Bob Woodward, Edward Snowden, and Jose Antonio Vargas! What an experience!
This very special trip left me inspired, moved, pumped, and definitely more informed on both newspaper design and journalism. It sure was a “once in a lifetime” experience.

A Digital Editor’s takeaway

Haily Hastings
Digital Editor

During our attendance to the convention, I went to several panels discussing the topic of social media strategy and ways to drive traffic to one’s website.

Many panels that were hosted discussed the importance of being frequently active on social media platforms. However, it was highlighted by several experienced individuals that in regards to the question “when is the optimal time and frequency to post on social media?”, it is important to understand one’s audience and develop a social media schedule around those followers. There were also several other points regarding social media strategy and website traffic that I took away from the convention:

  • Providing visuals is very beneficial in catching viewers’ attention, and should be provided frequently in posts on any social platform. However, not every post needs to have a visual provided
  • Visuals on both social media platforms and the website should be interesting. Photos of people, especially in action/motion, tend to draw the most attention.
  • When posting on social media, it’s recommended for media outlets that approximately 20% of all posts be self-promotion and branding related content, and 80% be content that has entertainment value (articles, events, etc.)
  • Different social media platforms provide different opportunities and methods for promoting content. For example, Twitter is great for reporting live news, Instagram is good for sharing interesting and eye-catching photographs, etc.
  • It is very important to understand the audience when trying to share content that is relevant, relatable, and interest-oriented.
  • Facebook is one of the strongest website referrers for campus media.
  • Social media language is casual and short, usually no longer than one or two sentences.
  • Email newsletters are a powerful way to keep followers informed about new content. They are considered vital, since that following is already owned by the content creator.
  • Social media takes time and dedicated effort, and it is strongly recommended that there be either one designated person or, preferably, a team of people that manage social media scheduling and content.

Finally, one panel also provided several free tools for social media managers, as well as tools for designers, photographers and writers:

  • – makes writing and sending newsletters simple and easy. It is free to use up to 5,000 newsletter subscribers.
  • – social media search engine that searches user-generated content across Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and more.
  • – Provides analytics for twitter hashtags
  • – Tool that is good for sparking ideas for titles and headlines
  • If This Then That ( – tool for automating things, such as posting Instagram pictures to Twitter, or making a specific post on the same day yearly, etc.
  • – Free stock images search engine.
  • com – Provides quick design tools for infographics, resumes, flyers and more. It also provides a quick photo editor and free icons to use.
  • – Video editing app that can cut video clips, add subtitles or music, add sound effects and other features
  • – Writing tool that checks readability and provides advice for improving readability.
  • – creates short links and provides analytics for them. Good for social media links
  • – web application that either rewards or punishes the writer to complete a goal set by them (ex. 1,500 words in a 60-minute time limit.) has many settings and is useful for improving words per minute.



scroll to top