Lariat students receive prestigious awards at conference in D.C.

By Lily Nussbaum | Staff Writer, Kaity Kempf | Broadcast Reporter

A group of journalism students from The Baylor Lariat traveled from Waco to Washington, D.C., this past weekend for a three-day national media convention, returning to Baylor with a number of awards, including multiple Pacemaker awards. The online and broadcast sections of the Lariat won Pacemakers, which media adviser Julie Reed said are “the Pulitzers of collegiate journalism.”

According to the convention’s website, MediaFest22 brought current professional journalists, students and advisers from various media outlets from across the country together. It served as both a learning experience and a celebration of student media.

“You get a chance to hear from amazing speakers in their own backyard who can provide so much insight to students and so many opportunities,” Reed said.

The convention offered opportunities for students to network, attend hands-on workshops and sessions and explore new career opportunities. Two of the keynote speakers at the event were Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein — Pulitzer Prize winners who covered the Watergate scandal for The Washington Post.

Throughout the convention, multiple awards ceremonies took place to recognize student journalists. All four Baylor student media entities — The Baylor Lariat, Lariat TV News, Roundup Yearbook and Focus Magazine — were nominated for and won both College Media Association Pinnacle awards and Associated Collegiate Press Best in Show and Pacemaker awards.

Bruce Gietzen, director of student media, said these awards show students are on the right track.

“We ask every day in the newsroom, ‘Did we get the story right, and why will the Baylor community care?’” Gietzen said. “These kinds of awards show that our students are doing things the right way and that other people see that.”

Gietzen said the Lariat hopes to use trips like this to inform students about the journalists who came before them.

“We want to provide students ‘bucket-list opportunities’ — to get to hear in person, and in some cases, our students meet the people who changed the face of journalism 50 years ago,” Gietzen said.

Bellingham, Mass., junior and Lariat staff writer Caitlyn Meisner said it was a “no-brainer” for her to attend the convention when she heard Woodward and Bernstein were attached. Along with listening to their session and meeting her idols after, she got to hear from female reporters in Washington.

“Seeing so many women at the conference was really encouraging,” Meisner said. “It made me feel a lot more secure in the career I want to pursue.”

Various sessions, such as the women in Washington one, were available for students to attend. Topics ranged from advice from recruiters on resumes to covering politics in the White House.

Houston junior and Lariat editor-in-chief Rachel Royster said she particularly enjoyed and plans on using ideas from two sessions: new ideas in print design and diversity in the newsroom.

Houston senior and Lariat arts and life editor Erianne Lewis said one of the best parts of the convention was being surrounded by other students and full-time journalists. In a room with that many media-focused individuals, it is hard not to feel validated, she said.

“Attending MediaFest in D.C. reaffirmed my desire to be a journalist,” Lewis said. “I just love being surrounded by people that are just as passionate about this field as I am.”

In addition to on-location convention opportunities, Baylor students got to explore Washington, D.C. Royster said they visited the monuments on National Mall, the Smithsonian Portrait Museum and different news outlets.

“Just standing in the midst of like The Washington Post building was awe-inspiring,” Royster said. “If I keep doing this now as a 20-year-old junior at a random college in Waco, Texas, maybe one day I have a shot at being on one of the bylines at a big-name paper.”

Lily Nussbaum is a senior film and digital media and public relations double major from Dallas, Texas. This is her second year with the Lariat and second semester as Social Media Editor. She loves the fast-paced environment of the newsroom and is excited to continue to grow the Lariat audience through socials. After graduation, she plans to work in the entertainment industry as a publicist or at an agency.