FPSA ‘22: Inspiring the Next Generation of Journalists

Kara Warren, Clubs Editor

   “In journalism, you are only constrained by the limit of your own creativity.” Reed Alexander, one of the many speakers at the Florida Scholastic Press Association, also referred to as FSPA, joined students from all over the state. But these aren’t just ordinary students. Everyone who attended last weekend’s event has manifested their own futures in journalism—whether it ibe in broadcast, writing, photography, yearbook, design, or newspaper.

   As hundreds of students filled the FAU Student Union, nerves began to creep into the five nominees for FSPA’s D7 Student Representative—a position that represents our district at the spring convention. One of the CHAT’s editors, Valerie Questell, was one of the five to run. The junior’s speech managed to silence the entire room, blowing away every single one of the advisors that would be making their vote just next month. But before she addressed her massive audience, Mr.Fagen, Valerie’s newspaper advisor, reminded her that it’s perfectly fine to be nervous, and if anything, it’s completely normal. “Since the day I submitted my application, I read the words ‘candidate must initiate a 3-minute speech at district event.’ I panicked.” However, the news editor was able to remind herself that it was more about quality over quantity and arguably gave the most impactful speech at the conference.

   Valerie’s sole reason for running was to further her way into higher positions in FSPA and help coordinate all of the events for 2023! But she also wants to bring awareness to the issues that could hinder the future of journalism. “I made sure that I spoke about underprivileged and connectionless youth publications that were the root cause of the death of journalism.” After presenting, nothing was more soothing than the thundering applause the entire district gave to her. “I knew that I had set a nice foundation that would get my foot in the door.”

   Following the six nominees and their speeches, Reed Alexander, the keynote speaker of the event, gave a presentation on the ins-and-outs on the business of journalism. While he initially spent his childhood portraying Nevel on the hit show iCarly, he’s currently a financial advisor for the news site, Insider. Despite all that he’s done, it became clear that the pointers he gave to his crowd of high-school and middle-school students was ground-breaking, and the evidence could be seen on all of their faces.

   Once the general session ended however, hundreds of students, advisors, and speakers dispersed into separate rooms for workshops on the different branches of journalism. These workshops gave members a chance to improve on their focus areas, but also to expand their knowledge on all that the field has to offer.

   One of these students, and the Features Editor of the CHAT Newspaper, Sophia Lopez, sat through 3 different workshops to broaden her perspective on the profession. “Exploring the different branches of journalism wasn’t just for my own personal interests, but to help us diversify the CHAT. Not just to make the site more attractive, but also more accessible and engaging to people with different interests.”

   Though her curiosity in the field of cinematography has carried throughout her entire life, FSPA’s convention only motivated her to start working on bigger projects in that area. One of these projects involves the production of her own movie. “I think that short films aren’t all just about the film itself, but also the storytelling element. Telling a story, while providing visual components is what I wanted to explore. And FSPA gave me the perfect opportunity to do so.”

   Though the fall FSPA convention had concluded, in just a few months, journalistic staff across Florida would return to Orlando’s amusement parks for another. “Our job as journalists is to ease people’s suffering and to let people know they are not alone.” This was only one of Reed Alexander’s many statements that shook the room, and of course, set the tone for the entire conference.  They learned what leadership looks like, received an inside look on the future of journalism, and were able to explore the different components of the field. This is why so many students will continue to sacrifice their Saturday mornings: to dedicate their lives to the truth.