I had the honor of attending this year’s ACP/CMA Media Convention in Dallas, Texas. Upon arriving, Texas greeted me as I expected, 80 degrees and beautiful. The next morning, however, I found that the Pacific Northwest had followed me and I walked out of the motel into 36 degree weather and high winds. I nope’d myself right back into the hotel, and good thing, because I quickly found myself immersed in the workshops at this year’s convention.
The first workshop took less than a few minutes to set the tone for my weekend. I had been approaching this journalism thing entirely wrong. I’m pursuing a degree in photography, journalism needs photos, so what else do I really need to do? Well, it turns out, I should be able to do everything. There was a theme that seemed to run through every workshop I attended, whether it was focused on photography, or building a lasting working relationship between a reporter and photographer, or how to write better sports stories, every presenter made it apparent that the more hats you can competently wear in the world of journalism, the better you are going to be at your niche.
For example, how am I as a photographer supposed to tell a story through pictures if I can’t tell that story through words? How do I know how to frame the story for the reporter if I can’t see that story from their perspective? What I learned is that in this industry you are a journalist first, and only after you understand the wide world of journalism can you really begin to specialize in your chosen area.
In between the workshops, I’d venture out a little bit, looking to find something new to eat. I was coming to Texas, so I had beef and BBQ on my mind the whole flight down. The people in Dallas were amazingly friendly and always easy to approach and ask for advice on where to go. Everyone from Idaho to Texas told me the same thing, “Go to Deep Ellum.” Even my Music History teacher told me to check it out before I left. So, Saturday around lunch, I started the 10 block trek down to Deep Ellum to find the famous Pecan Lodge, apparently Texas’ best BBQ. Sure, it took an hour of standing in line to get it, but it was worth it.
Because of my time-consuming BBQ adventure, I was in a hurry back to the convention, when I stumbled upon a 20 foot tall eyeball sculpture. In the middle of downtown Dallas, surrounded by motels, banks and forty story buildings, a 20-foot-tall eyeball stood, resplendent against its AstroTurf base.
I didn’t eat as much as I planned on while I was there. I didn’t get out and see as much of Dallas either, or even get to take pictures. Instead I got pulled into what this convention had to offer. Nine out of 10 speakers I sat through were engaging, loved what they did and seemed to genuinely enjoy sharing the knowledge they had. And no matter what I thought of their speeches, every one of the speakers was more than happy to take their time and answer any question that anyone had. I learned a lot, and I think this convention is an amazing opportunity for anyone who has an interest in journalism.