What I learned at ICPA

I spent the weekend blindly wandering around the beautiful city of Chicago for a journalism conference. And in all honesty, the getting lost in the city thing was more interesting than the real reason we were there.

My home girl Sara and I took the train at 5:23 a.m., Chicago-bound, with only about three hours of sleep in our bodies. All the normal seats were taken, so we sat at a booth for the 3-ish hour ride. The only upside was watching the sunrise and this cute little girl climbing around the train.

We had about five hours to kill between landing in the city and needing to be in the hotel, so we decided to go shopping and meet up with my brother. We got lost along the way (multiple times) and circled the Sears Tower on accident, which was probably my favorite part; I’ve never seen it up close. Ever. Some Chicagoland citizen I am.

The sessions I attended were mediocre at best. They were insightful, of course, but nothing was really fresh information for me.

We learned (twice) about how to get jobs and internships and how to prepare for them and all that jazz. A few notable things were said, but only a few.

The one I was really disappointed with was a design session I attended. Chuck Burke, a glorious designer for the Chicago Tribune and an EIU alum, spent most of the session talking about the Tribune‘s history and redesign process. The title of the session was “How to Design an Award-Winning Newspaper.” That’s not what happened. At least we got cookies for being EIU journalists.

Then came Mark Konkol from the Chicago Sun-Times. He was the keynote speaker for the whole shebang and did a damn good job. He wasn’t pretentious about having won a Pulitzer –– he just talked about his life and had a slew of inspirational things to throw in along the way.

I was scribbling away throughout the whole speech. The one I keep thinking about is, “If you don’t have the fire in your belly, quit.”

I have the fire. For copy editing.

Oh, yeah, there weren’t any copy editing sessions and I wanted to cry. Everything was about reporting and writing editorials and how to get a job. Hmph.

In one of the job-getting sessions, though, a woman said people usually try to get in a newspaper by being a copy editor, since it’s “the lowest job” a newspaper can offer and anyone can get it.

Cue my jaw dropping and rage boiling up inside me. Sure, anyone can be a copy editor, if you don’t give a damn about mistakes slipping through your paper. Every job is important for the newspaper to get printed smoothly and with minimal errors. You wouldn’t send your janitor to go report on breaking news, so why would you try to sneak in as a copy editor?

I think the thing I appreciate most from this was the new bond with my coworkers. We all were running on a mere few hours of sleep the whole weekend, yet we still had a blast.

And while I was pretty underwhelmed throughout the sessions, I learned a bit about where I should go with my life: copy editor 4ever.

Now, excuse me while I sleep for an eternity and wait for the muscles I didn’t even know I had to stop screaming at me.

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