Spectator staffers travel to Washington, D.C., study education reporting

Editor’s Note: Four Spectator staffers recently attended the Young Invincibles College Journalist Summit. The non-profit group is based in D.C. and represents the interests of 18-34 year olds related to public policy. 

Andee Erickson, Gabe Lagarde, Sami West and Lara Bockenstedt represented The Spectator staff at the Young Invincibles’ College Journalist Summer in Washington D.C..

Renewing a passion for journalism

By Sami West

I can’t help but revel in the timing of our visit to Washington, D.C. Not only had we just returned from a trip to a journalism conference in Madison, with our heads brimming with ideas and information we were eager to apply to our classes and to our beloved student newspaper, but we are in the midst of what will surely mark a turning point for the practice of journalism. With what seems like more distrust in the press than ever and our nation’s president publicly deeming the press an enemy of the American people, it’s  difficult to keep from feeling discouraged about the future of journalism.

Still, I found my passion for journalism to be stronger than ever following the two-day trip. We made the most of our 36 or so hours in the District, spending all of Sunday sightseeing before the conference Monday. After checking in at our hotel, we hopped on the Metro to walk the National Mall in pursuit of the Newseum. There, we had the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the history and practices of journalism across the country; all over the world. I was reminded of just how central the First Amendment is to the premises America was founded on in their First Amendment exhibit, and got an eye-opening look into how some of America’s greatest events and tragedies were covered, like the Civil Rights Movement and all the presidential elections. We ended our day taking in a perfect sunset from the stairs of Jefferson Memorial, and from there, scurrying to the rest of the monuments in the dark. The day, though fleeting, was nothing short of magical.

Monday was spent at the Young Invincibles’ College Journalist Summit. Surrounded by fellow college students, journalists, future politicians and philosophers, it was an enlightening experience in the atmosphere alone. The opportunity to hear from top-tier higher education journalists, as well as Sen. Tim Kaine in the Russell Senate Building were certainly the most exciting parts of the day. I left D.C. with a better understanding of the most prominent issues within higher ed today, and a newfound confidence in reporting on issues I had little knowledge of before. I can’t stop thinking about the beautiful cherry trees, beginning to bloom, and how I too have blossomed since that trip. I look forward to applying all that I’ve learned to my studies and time as editor-in-chief.


Captivating what Journalism is all about in the Newseum in Washington D.C

Finding Diversity in my Journalism Experience

By Lara Bockenstedt

Unloading the suitcase from Madison and filling it again for Washington D.C., the four of us (Andee Erickson, Gabe Lagarde, Sami West and I) landed Sunday afternoon at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. We spent the afternoon in the Newseum, immersed in their well-known exhibits such as the 9/11 Gallery and the Berlin Wall Gallery, and the newer exhibits too, like the Annenberg Space for Photography’s Refugee exhibit which presented the work of photojournalists around the world covering the refugee crises. We then dashed to make it to the monuments before sunset.

Young Invincibles, the D.C.-based non-profit group that created the journalism summit for students across the U.S., works to empower student activism in issues of higher education and health care. Our itinerary allowed exciting opportunities such as taking part in a Q&A session with a panel of journalists who cover higher ed for media like Politico, and a session with Sen. Tim Kaine. Perhaps the most enriching part of the trip was conversing with students about how varied issues of higher ed are across the country. Overall, it was an experience that diversified my view of journalism and higher ed. I returned more passionate about what I’m studying and eager to apply the knowledge here at UW-Eau Claire.


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