FM students attend annual ESSPA Conference at Syracuse University


FM Brojo

FM Broadcast Journalism students pose at the ESSPA conference.

The Empire State School Press Association (ESSPA) Conference was held at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications on October 6th, welcoming student journalists from all across New York state for a day of journalism workshops and collaboration. Over 30 Fayetteville-Manlius high school students attended the conference, representing the school’s Broadcast Journalism department, Yearbook staff, and The Buzz itself. 

The ESSPA Conference was co-founded in 1937 by M. Lyle Spencer and Douglass W. Miller of Syracuse University and has since been held annually to teach practical skills to young journalists and provide opportunities for high school students to network for themselves. Some speakers at the conference this year included: staff member Hank Domin, Central Current’s Julie McMahon and Christina Whiteside, and Newhouse’s own RC Concepcion, Aileen Gallagher, Erika Schneider, and many more.

The day started off with an opening ceremony where Newhouse faculty previewed the day ahead. Current Newhouse students spoke on their experiences as journalism students, providing their input for the high schooler conference attendees in the Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium. Students then dispersed into their workshops of choice, where they worked with industry professionals and Newhouse professors to further immerse themselves in the public communications world. Students attended two morning sessions, choosing between topics that included: Interviewing Tips and Tricks, Social media Influencing, Many Ways to Tell the Story, among others.

Conference attendees then had an hour-long break to explore the Syracuse University campus and pick up lunch at places like Varsity Pizza before returning to Newhouse for one more workshop of their choosing. Afternoon sessions included: Video Storytelling, Managing an Online News Site, The Art of Making TV, and more. 

Fayetteville-Manlius High School senior Lucy Gamble attended the conference this year, saying, “The ESSPA Conference is beneficial because it gives high school students a glimpse into what college classes feel like… Students are able to gain knowledge about topics they’re interested in, from professors that are well-learned in their field.”

Senior attendee Maya Perera adds, “ESSPA really helps aspiring journalists, videographers and photographers really get a sense of what it’s like to study these topics in college. All the speakers were really knowledgeable and interesting. They really made you think outside of the box and question what we know about media and where it’s heading.” 

The opportunity to get hands-on experience before entering the industry is especially beneficial in the public communications realm. Ultimately, the ESSPA Conference is a valuable event for New York State’s aspiring journalism students and proved to be a success for this year’s attendees.