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Sidwell Friends School's Student Newspaper Since 1974


Sidwell Friends School's Student Newspaper Since 1974


Sidwell Friends School's Student Newspaper Since 1974


Sidwell Students Attend UMD’s Annual J-Day Conference

On April 12, Sidwell students attended the annual J-Day conference at the University of Maryland (UMD). 

Held by UMD’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism and the Maryland-D.C. Scholastic Press Association, the conference consisted of various sessions on topics ranging from interviewing to podcasting to artificial intelligence in journalism. 

The Washington Post humor columnist Alexandra Petri started the morning with a presentation to all participating students. 

In her opening address, Petri talked about her experience working for a large newspaper, bringing her natural sense of humor into her presentation. Sophomore Dylan Verma appreciated the writing advice she offered through her “awkward jokes.”

After Petri’s address, students split into their three sessions for the day. According to the Scholastic Press Association’s website, students could choose from “more than two dozen topical sessions led by experienced professionals on reporting, videography, photography, publication design, press law, ethics and social media.” 

Verma’s first session of the day was titled “The Role of TikTok and Instagram in Journalism,” which he thoroughly enjoyed. The Baltimore Banner’s TikTok manager ran the session, and participants learned the science behind the “vertical video format” and its vital role in news consumption. 

Verma’s second session was on podcasting, where he learned how to create news stories through audio. The executive producer of the Hidden Brain podcast led the session, during which students learned about the devices and technology used to record a podcast.

Verma’s final session and his favorite part of J-Day was the UMD newsroom tour. He found it “so cool to actually go on a set and see all the lights and cameras.” He was also allowed to sit at the anchor desk and read the teleprompters and found that “it was just really cool to see behind the scenes.” 

Freshman Nora Giuffrida’s favorite session happened to be her first session, titled “The Art of Interviewing,” where she learned about the fundamentals of journalism from UMD’s Eleanor Merrill Visiting Professor on the Future of Journalism Tom Rosenstiel. She liked the session as Rosenstiel was a very engaging host who “asked students about their experiences and discussed [their] answers.” Giuffrida received a lot of insightful advice from Rosenstiel that “will be so valuable for [her] future interviews.”

Giuffrida attended the “Ethical Decision Making in Journalism” session, where Jonathan D. Salant, the assistant managing politics editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, discussed how newspapers select the stories they write about. Students voiced their opinions on scenarios that Salant posed, one being the dilemma covering a star athlete’s arrest which could negatively impact the athlete’s future. 

Giuffrida’s final session focused on careers in journalism, where she learned various aspects of the profession. A key takeaway, she recalled, is that a person is more likely to get a job in social media rather than in actual reporting with a journalism degree.

Verma said that J-Day “seemed like a really cool opportunity to explore various aspects of journalism,” as he had never considered exploring journalism before but is now interested in the field.

 After attending the conference, Giuffrida expressed how the sessions fueled her interest in journalism. She enjoyed meeting student journalists from different schools and learning new journalism tips from people with so much experience. 

Giuffrida is quite open to a career in journalism, considering the field hard but interesting. “Being a journalist [means] you learn something new every day,” she said.

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