Journalism conferences reignite passion, dedication

Earlier this month, I packed my bags and got a break from the Midwest for a little journalistic re-charge. Yup, I went to a journalism conference. In Florida.

I was one of about 30-something young journalists accepted to this year’s Society of Professional Journalists Reporters Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla. Needless to say, I was pretty stoked when I found out I got accepted. But even more so when I set foot at the Poynter Institute, where most of our sessions were held.

The conference was amazing. I met a lot of great, talented and extremely passionate journalists from across the country. But I think most importantly, it was a refreshing break from the day-to-day routine that I’ve grown used to at my newspaper. Having been there almost six months, I think it’s safe to say I have somewhat of a system in place that, as everyone knows, can get predictable at times — even in the ever-changing world of journalism.

So it was nice to just step back, take a break and relax with other journalists. Plus, being half-way across the country didn’t make things any worse, obviously.

I’ve been attending journalism conferences at least once a year since I was a junior in high school. And every time I return from a trip, my head is exploding with new ideas and a new excitement that I just didn’t have before. I guess I always knew how important conferences are to for keeping your passion going, but I never really put it together until now.

Not to say that I was getting complacent before I left for SPJRI — because I wasn’t — but I think I fell into a little bit of a journalistic rut. Most of my friends are still back at school or scattered throughout the country, so I haven’t really had many people to talk to about journalism or my writing or anything along those lines. But then I got to welcome reception the first night of the conference, and all of a sudden there was a whole new world of people to talk to.

They had the same problems, the same successes, the same everything. Regardless of what platform they worked for.

And, even though I was technically at the conference for work, it was a break. A break from deadlines. From meetings. From interviews. From late nights and early mornings. A break that I desperately needed.

Now, having been back at the office for about a week (though this will be dated by the time this blog is actually posted), I’m glad to say that re-ignited passion is still there. I’m sure it will die out in a few months, just like it always does. But that doesn’t mean the passion is gone. It just means that I need another shot in the arm, so to speak, of immersing myself in the culture of journalism. And if that culture (aka conference) just happens to occur halfway across the country again, then so be it.

Everybody needs to re-boot now and then. Why not do it with a bunch of people who can relate to the same things you’re dealing with? It’ll be like a big, happy, journalism intervention. And who doesn’t need something like that every once in a while?

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