There were students from public and private schools across Massachusetts, from various socioeconomic backgrounds but they all shared the same reason for being there. “Despite us all having been brought up in different households, with different cultures, we were all there for the same reason, we all wanted our voices to be heard,” said APH student Lila Caplan.
The speakers included crime reporter Maria Cramer, columnist Shirley Leung, reporter Cristela Guerra, and a representative from the Massachusetts Conference for Women, the impressive annual gathering of 10,000-plus women leaders, each December. Layout and copy editor John Vitti served as the moderator for the night. The panel took many questions from students and shared advice about the news business, how to improve our school’s own blogs and papers, and shared their own experiences being a woman in such a fast-paced and rapidly evolving profession. It was evident that for many of the journalists, writing and reporting was not just a hobby, but a lifestyle. One reporter shared that her passion isn’t in one specific category, but journalism as a whole. Journalism has to be something that calls you, it’s a calling and a passion. This reporter’s passion wasn’t just on a specific topic, but rather it was the interviewing part that goes with reporting.
“A lot of what the speakers had to say was not only valuable, but relatable,” says Jill Veader, an aspiring APH journalist. “They showed us that even though we’re ‘just high school students,’ we can have a powerful voice if we so choose.”
One of the Boston Globe reporters, Maria Cramer, said that as a teen, reading the Sweet Valley High young adult novels that featured a reporter, was her “gateway drug” that led her to choosing journalism as a profession. Via a tweet she suggested Academy at Penguin Hall Students watch a handful of films for inspiration, including All The President’s Men, The Paper, and His Girl Friday. However, the most powerful insight pwe received from the panel that evening was the real secret to being successful in a competitive, rigorous, and incredibly rewarding job: the fact that there is no greater value than that of sharing one’s truth.
At this discussion of Women in Journalism and Media our students realized that “Journalism isn’t just about getting the facts and showing the public every angle of the situation. It’s about having connections, talking to people, showing empathy but also tough love, and the power of having a pen and paper.”