Bright and early at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, students filled Kemper Auditorium to learn about journalism from experienced journalists and The Phillipian staff members alike.
Blueprint, an interscholastic journalism conference, consisted of a talk by a keynote speaker, a panel of professional journalists, and multiple student-run workshops.
The event, run by The Phillipian, invited members of the Andover community as well as students from several other schools, including the Groton School, Middlesex School, and St. Mark’s School, to hear from professional journalists.
The keynote speaker, Richard Lui, is a current journalist and news anchor for MSNBC and NBC news and a former CNN worldwide news anchor. He started the day with a talk about misinformation and the spread of false news. He began by sharing the Latin phrase “fluctuat nec mergitur,” which he then translated.
Lui said, “It means ‘tossed but not sunk.’ When we talk about the idea of press freedom, that is what I’m [proposing] here; that despite disinformation and misinformation, that freedom of the press and journalism is tossed but not sunk.”
He then focused his presentation on four main topics: the price of press freedom, politics as patient zero, the perfect storm, and the first line of defense.
Lui shared some statistics about journalism death rates around the world. According to Lui, 2018 is projected to have the all-time record of 81 journalists killed. Lui believes that this is partially symptomatic of a culture in which news is routinely attacked as fake. He prefers to use the term “false news” instead of “fake news.”
“Fake news has now become an epithet. Those two words mean a lot more than what we perceive them to be,” Lui said.
Lui also discussed false news and misinformation in terms of the 2016 election. He explained the impact that false news stories probably had on the 2016 election, and believes that they affected roughly ten percent of the outcome. He went on to discuss some of the conditions and factors that create a receptive environment for the proliferation of false news.
“Facts are expensive. When we decide that 11 people were killed by a shooter at a synagogue yesterday, we’re very careful before we say 11 or eight. And then you have new entrances into the market space that don’t have as much money, they’re not gonna get it right sometimes,” Lui said.
After his presentation, students were invited to attend journalism workshops run by board members of The Phillipian that centered around different areas of the paper. Some of the workshops included ‘Management in the Highschool Newsroom,’ ‘Starting Your Own Multilingual Section,’ and ‘Being an Artist in the Newsroom.’
One of the attendees, Katie Reveno, Assistant Features Editor of Groton School’s “The Circle Voice,” attended ‘Laying Out the Plan.’
She said, “I didn’t know that much about layout, and in one of the workshops we did, we looked at different layouts from different news sources and talked about how the way they do it emphasizes their stories and shows bias or lack thereof, and how to prioritize. I hadn’t really thought about how a big of a role layout plays, which obviously it does.”
The last event of the conference was a panel, featuring three professionals, two of whom were Andover alums. The panelists were Nicole Dungca, who is an investigative reporter with previous experience on the Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team, Jason Fry ’87 P’21, who is a former Wall Street Journal reporter and columnist and now an independent writer, and Nora Princiotti ’12, a writer for the Boston Globe’s sports department who covers the New England Patriots.
The panelists spent an hour answering audience-driven questions about their experiences. They covered topics such as the future of journalism, the role of personalization in journalism, and the challenges new journalists face today.
Fry said, “I think there are a lot of challenges in journalism now and that’s certainly something I think anyone thinking about going into the field is gonna think about, and it’s something they should think about. However, in my experience, it’s not so much you choose it, as it chooses you.”
As a student at Andover, he wrote for the sports section of The Phillipian and went on to continue covering mainly sports and technology as a reporter at The Wall Street Journal Online.
“When I was at Andover, I absolutely knew that I wanted to be a writer. I was not sure if I wanted to be a journalist. I wound up being a journalist mostly because it was a way I could write. It’s pretty hard to be 22 [years old] and write a novel and get it published, but I could go work for a paper. So that was the path I followed. For me, it was really a love of writing,” said Fry.
After the panel concluded, the audience began to dissipate, but many stayed to talk one-on-one with the panelists.
Jane Park ’22, an attendee of the event, said, “I loved how informative the whole experience was. Mr. Lui made a great presentation about the impact of journalism and news and I’m really glad that I went. The emphasis on getting valid information instead of disinformation and misinformation was what I found the most interesting. I think it’s our responsibility to make sure the information we share and spread is true and accurate information.”