I returned home from Louisville last night at around 8:00 p.m. and almost immediately fell asleep. The conference was as entertaining as it was worthwhile, but it definitely left me feeling a bit drained from the experience.
The convention was held at the Galt House Hotel and Suites in downtown Louisville. We, being far too classy for such meager accommodations, elected to stay in an Econo Lodge about three blocks away. While the Galt House was a beautiful venue, even it paled in comparison to the University of Louisville’s new sports arena next door…
We arrived too late (and too tired) to attend any sessions on Thursday, though we were able to meet with some representatives from College Publisher and pick up some papers to critique over dinner, which we enjoyed at the Bluegrass Brewing Company. If you’re ever in the neighborhood, I highly recommend it.
We were in sessions virtually all Friday, stopping only briefly to grab some lunch. I attended a session on how to handle tragedy from a press perspective, which was given by the faculty adviser of the student newspaper at Virginia Tech University during the mass-shootings there a few years ago. I also stopped in and had some one-on-one dialogue about research techniques and resources, as well as enterprise stories, with the faculty adviser of the Red & Black, the student newspaper of the University of Georgia. The Red & Black would go on to win a Pacemaker Award for excellence in student journalism at the conference.
(For the sake of parity, I suppose I should mention that we had dinner at Impellizzeri’s Tony Italian Restaurant on Friday. Deep-dish Sicilian pizza, you can’t go wrong.)
Saturday was considerably more laid back, at least by the hectic standards of the day before. I attended two sessions, one on how to deal with censorship from university administrators and the other on how to motivate and retain staff members. The former was very illuminating, in the sense that it made me realize how hands-off the UA administration tends to be when it comes to the Wildcat (the occasional email or phone call notwithstanding), especially compared to some of the smaller, private schools that were present at the conference. The latter session offered some interesting insight into how a paper is constructed at a smaller school that covers a wide geographic area (the speaker was from a school in northern Idaho) though I could glean very little that was applicable to the Wildcat.
Louisville is actually a fairly beautiful city, situated on the banks of the Ohio River nearby Indiana. And when I say nearby, I mean it. You can take a half-hour walk across a bridge straight there. Another interesting facet of downtown is that many of the larger buildings are actually connected via a series of enclosed pedways that take pedestrians above street level from building to building. Being from a relatively small town, and attending college in a city that feels small, it was pretty surreal to see such advanced levels of urban development.
Regrettably, the Daily Wildcat did not place in the top-10 of the “Best in Show” rankings, though I am still pleased with our showing. The top ten papers (according to the contest judges) can be viewed at the links below:
- The Daily Texan, Univ. of Texas at Austin
- The Daily Iowan, Univ. of Iowa
- The Daily Bruin, UCLA
- Indiana Daily Student, Indiana University
- The Kentucky Kernel, Univ. of Kentucky
- The Daily Tar Heel, Univ. of North Carolina
- The Badger Herald, Univ. of Wisconsin
- Iowa State Daily, Iowa State University
- The Oklahoma Daily, Univ. of Oklahoma
- The Daily News, Ball State University
Of the above, I was able to view copies of The Kentucky Kernel, The Daily News, The Daily Iowan, and Indiana Daily Student. From what I saw, all of them shared several things in common, namely a tight design, effective use of space, innovative packaging and use of alternative media (graphs and charts), and solid content. I was especially impressed with the design of the Student, which boasted some innovative features I hope we can integrate into the Wildcat for the remainder of this semester, as well as on into the spring. A huge congratulations is in order for all the papers that placed, and best wishes to all those who attended the conference.
Now to rest, recover, and prepare for Tuesday’s midterm elections, which I will be covering in part for the Arizona Daily Star. Should be fun stuff.