By Lukas Allison
Despite flying over the ocean on several occasions, I had never been to the beach. I was excited to experience the beach and the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association conference March 28-31. Prior to TIPA, I had never attended a conference of any kind.
To top it all off, I was a graphic design student at a journalism convention – a field of work I am not too knowledgeable of.
The first morning of the conference, other editors and I met with our adviser to discuss the events for the day. We all received a cheap cloth backpack, an itinerary, a press badge with our name and contest number on it, and a collapsible water bottle. After reading the itinerary, I noticed the sessions for the first day were canceled.
I was entered in a live competition for newspaper design. The competition room had very few power outlets. I anticipated this and brought a power strip. This, however, made the table I was sitting at too crowded.
Each competitor was required to bring a laptop. Unfortunately, this excluded many students and almost excluded me from the competition. I don’t have a laptop with the necessary software, so I had to borrow another editor’s computer.
This placed me at a disadvantage because the computer I borrowed was running Windows 7. I am more familiar with the iMac’s OS X because I use my personal computer for graphic design. Had I known I would be using a Windows machine, I would have tried to familiarize myself with the system prior to the competition.
The instructions for the competition were not very clear and some aspects of the information provided seemed poorly planned. Many of the schools that compete in these competitions are community colleges that do not have the budget to issue laptops for students to use. In the future, the competitions should be held near colleges with computer labs that can accommodate those students who cannot afford the equipment.
The second day of the conference, there were speakers throughout the day and each student had the option of going to one of four to five sessions per time slot. I attended sessions that seemed geared toward design. In hindsight, I should have gone to sessions based on things I had no prior knowledge of. The sessions I chose, except for one, didn’t cover any material I had not already been given for the past three semesters as a visual communications student.
The one interesting and informative session I attended was an open forum run by students. The session was about coping with crisis in the newsroom. There were a few incidents at another school the students didn’t know how to cover. Students from the attending schools shared peculiar situations they found themselves in when reporting and explained how they handled them.
When it came to our turn to share, we realized just how tame our corner of the world is here in Farmers Branch. In the time I’ve been at Brookhaven College, there hasn’t been anything I would call a crisis.
Overall, the conference was a great experience. There was room for improvement, but plenty of things ran smoothly. Perhaps in future conferences, more sessions could be run by student professionals and trained experts. A few more sessions about advanced design techniques or at least more in-depth design would be nice.