Our Journalists Attend CSPA 2017 Spring Convention


Mabel Takona (left), Cecile Macintosh (center), and Quincy A. Campbell (right) at CSPA workshop

By: Cecile Mcintosh, Staff Reporter

On Wednesday, March 15 and Thursday, March 16, Overlook Journal Advisor Mr. Chapin, Editor-in-Chief Quincy Campbell ‘19, Taylor Marsico ‘19, Mabel Takona ’20, Antonea Rufa ‘20, and I attended the Columbia Scholastic Press Association’s 93rd annual Spring Convention at Columbia University.  

This convention contained six daily sessions, where teen reporters, writers, photographers, and editors could strengthen their job-specific skills. For me personally, I appreciated the opportunity I had to strengthen my writing skills, especially considering how I have to start writing common application essays during the summer.

The first session on Wednesday, which we attended as a group, was called “Dancing on the Edge of a Cliff.” We learned about failure – how it is okay to fail and how one should admit her failure, but most importantly, how one must learn from it. This lesson is necessary in writing and in life. When writing, one must understand her mistakes and practice, so her writing can improve; furthermore, in life, once one makes a mistake, one should take the opportunity to appreciate the mistake, so as to be more efficient in her future life choices.

This particular theme appeared again in the second session titled “Keep on Trucking,” the “trucks” being the pictures and illustrations in the middle of two page physical newspapers. We learned important facts, such as that words should not be too small and also to make sure that there is not too much print. The graphics, meanwhile, should tell their own stories and interest the reader to read the print, and the newspaper should make use of the art department. This information was really useful since our physical newspaper is in the process of being made.

After lunch, we went to a session about investigating criminal justice. This was particularly beneficial to some of the T-D student delegates who are considering majoring in law in college. We learned that we need to ask many questions and get out of the typical office and explore all the options. Also, we should not be afraid to take hard classes.

On the second day, our first session was called “Write it Right, Write it Tight.” Here, we were exposed to many helpful tips about how to write articles with more facts and less filler sentences. Furthermore, we learned to avoid redundancy and not to overuse adjectives and adverbs. Finally, although it might not sound correct, in journalism simple, declarative sentences are more useful than many clauses.

Our last session was all about creativity. This was helpful because creativity is needed in all classes and professions, and, for us in particular, we employ creativity not only in our writing of stories, but also in our assigning of stories and generating headlines for articles.

The convention was worth walking in the bitter cold and even showing up on a snow day while the rest of T-D was at home. All of the speakers were informative and provided their emails so we could contact them with any questions or issues. Hopefully, this becomes an annual trip and other student journalists get to experience it, as well.