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What's the Big Deal About The Working Press?

From the April Issue of SPJ Report


By Ieva M. Augstums

We wanted to produce the perfect newspaper.

As an aspiring student journalist in charge of guiding a dozen other student journalists from around the nation, perfection just wasn’t the right word to describe why all of us gathered in Seattle last October.

Don’t get me wrong. We wanted to produce the best issues we could of The Working Press, the Society of Professional Journalists’ national convention newspaper.

We just knew we had a lot to learn. We knew we were far from perfect.

As a past reporter and the editor of The Working Press 2001, I knew after the first hour of awkward introductions that I would have no apologies for the exhaustive late nights that were ahead.

I knew I would find myself shouting periodically across the hotel board room throughout the week, reminding all reporters, designers, and photographers to save their work.

I knew by the end of the week I would be endorsing caffeine-induced early mornings.

Tall, hazelnut mocha, anyone?

Sure. Make it a double.

What possesses a dozen complete strangers to come together for one week and produce The Working Press is hard to define.

It’s not about achieving perfection. No human, not even a journalist, can do that in just five days.

Instead, it’s about providing information in an accurate, comprehensive, timely, and understandable manner.

It’s about listening to and the application of advice from Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters, photographers and editors.

It’s about attending dozens of compelling professional and career development sessions.

And who could forget it’s an opportunity to show off your skills, maybe even get a summer internship or full-time job.

We knew we were far from being perfect, but it didn’t matter.

We had had fun staying up late, exchanging stories from our own college newsrooms as we designed pages and edited proofs. We all laughed when our server crashed – it happened more than once – leaving us to shuffle through our notebooks, re-key stories and redesign pages.

Despite all the caffeine, we still knocked on each other’s hotel room doors in the morning to make sure everyone made it to that morning’s newsroom meeting.

If you want to have some valuable learning with lessons that will help you grow professionally, apply to The Working Press.

It is an opportunity any aspiring student journalist – print, broadcasting or online – would want to claim.

As students producing The Working Press 2002 in the Renaissance Worthington Hotel in downtown Fort Worth, Texas, who knows what feats thousands of SPJ members will read over breakfast.

If the newspaper is late and it doesn't come out until the afternoon, people will wait outside the newsroom just to make sure they get a copy.

What you cover catalogues the lives of dedicated journalists. They want to read it.

Trust me.

If not, the double hazelnut mocha is on me.

Ieva M. Augstums is a senior news-editorial and English major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and past editor and reporter for The Working Press.


Deadline: April 19, 2002

Who should apply: Student writers, photographers and designers. SPJ will choose 12 for the staff.

How to Apply: Send a cover letter, résumé, and three clips, layouts or published photos (relevant to your area of expertise) to:
Society of Professional Journalists
Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Center
3909 N. Meridian St.
Indianapolis, IN 46208-4045
c/o Julie Grimes.

– Energy, talent, great ideas, and a good attitude
– Your transportation to and from Fort Worth
– Photographers: bring your own gear

– Free convention registration, including meal events
– Free accommodations at convention hotel
– Mentoring by professional journalists
– Networking venues
– A place to showcase your talents in front of a sea of professionals
– An opportunity to add to your portfolio
– A fun experience

– Plan to arrive in Fort Worth by noon on Sept. 11.
– Departure will be after noon on Sept. 15.

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