Washington D.C.: A journalism student’s reflection

It’s not every day I can say I visited a national news outlet, let alone several in a span of a few days.

Yet, I did just that thanks to a trip to Washington D.C. over the course of last week. Six Elliott School of Communication students, myself included, traveled to the nation’s capitol from Nov. 4 to 9 with assistant professor Amy DeVault.

Part of the reason we went to D.C. was to assist DeVault in teaching a workshop called “Team Storytelling,” which was also taught by my high school journalism teacher, Kristin Baker.

Aside from teaching at the Journalism Educators Association (JEA) National High School Journalism Convention, we toured the D.C. area, including three national news outlets: The Associated Press, Washington Post and the D.C. Bureau of the McClatchy Company, which owns the Wichita Eagle.

Our tours of the news outlets allowed a once in a lifetime opportunity to connect with reporters and editors at some of the largest news outlets in the country.

Associated Press

Our tour guide was Doug Daniels, a former professor at Kansas State University. At K-State, he was adviser to The Collegian, the student newspaper.

Daniels, an editor with the AP, was extremely knowledgeable about how things are run at the AP.

I learned that many K-State alumni clog the offices of the D.C. Bureau. I also learned how tweeting stories work: The AP has a policy that the story must be published online in its entirety, fully edited, before it is allowed to be put on social media.

 In other words, the AP is not in the business of live tweeting an event; it is more concerned with getting the full story accurately published before being posted on social media.

McClatchy Company

The McClatchy Company is the company that owns the Wichita Eagle, which made our trip even more special.

Our guide was Jim Asher, the McClatchy D.C. Bureau Chief. Asher is the kind of man who loves to share horror stories from his time as a journalist. He told us how he’s been threatened, how reporters are sometimes required to meet with sources in private to talk with them and that he has been indicted because of his reporting, although the charges never panned out.

The biggest takeaway from him was to always be tough and never back down, no matter how difficult the situation is.

The Washington Post

The Post was a mesmerizing experience.

Knowing I was in the newsroom where Bob Woodward (who was a keynote speaker at the JEA convention earlier in the week) and Carl Bernstein did the work to expose the Watergate Scandal, was incredible.

We learned the Post is a strongly digital newsroom, with recently-added digital and broadcast desks, resulting in a cutting-edge, modern-day newsroom. And, we learned that the newspaper is moving locations in a little more than a year.

All in all, this trip was not only a fantastic experience, it was also a learning experience. It was incredible to hear from professionals in the news business that truly know what they are talking about.

It is a trip I will never forget.