While you continue to ponder over where exactly you’ll eat while in Indianapolis, don’t forget to take full advantage of the convention itself. If you’ve been to a convention before, here are some reminders of how to make the best of it. If this is your first time, these are some tips for you to get the most out of it.


Don’t skip sessions

  • You might be tempted to skip sessions to explore the city or just hang out with friends, but the entire point of the conference is to learn about journalism, and you’re missing out on presentations by experienced leaders if you choose to skip.

Go to all of the sessions you can possibly go to

  • On that same note, try to go to as many sessions as possible. The convention features tons sessions on a variety of topics from writing to photography to ethics to design. If you’re not interested in the sessions offered in your “area of expertise,” try something new!

Pack intelligently

  • When it comes to packing for convention, be smart and plan for long days. Make sure to pack:
    • Walkable shoes — you’ll be walking around the convention center and the city.
    • A bag for swag — different businesses and schools give out freebies (like buttons and pens) at the exhibition hall, so make sure to bring a bag to collect it all
    • Copies of your publication — you’re going to want to show off your paper/website/yearbook to people, so be sure to bring an extra few copies!
    • Extra cash — sometimes a speaker has a book you’ll want to buy or there’s always the JEA Bookstore to check out, but no matter what, you’ll probably need some excess money

Use the buddy system

  • You’re in a big city and wandering around a large convention center. There’s safety in numbers. It’s just smart to always have at least one person with you at all times.


Take notes

  • Bring a notebook (maybe a nifty reporter’s notebook!) and write down the biggest takeaways from the sessions you attend so you can take those ideas and lessons back to your staff

Share information with your staffers

  • This is where taking notes comes in handy. Bring the information you learn during sessions back to staffers in order to implement these ideas in your own organization.


  • Do participate in write-offs. They are fun and a great way to challenge yourself as a journalist, but:
    • Don’t get uptight about them
    • Take your time
    • Read over everything

Go to our sessions!

  • Ball State students will be presenting at a few different sessions that you should check out:
    • What is ‘code’? (Fri., Nov. 11 at 11 a.m.) — Coding is useful, beautiful and easy to learn. The hard part is figuring out what “code” is and where to start. Learn how Python, JavaScript and HTML can help significantly improve online storytelling and design.
    • What’s the Word(Press)? (Fri., Nov. 11 at 1 p.m.) — Trying to move online but don’t know how? Want to start your own blog? Need to spruce up your current website? Learn how to make a simple WordPress site from start to finish. Bring laptops!
    • Activating girls’ voices (Sat., Nov. 12 at 11 p.m.) — New research demonstrates that girls suffer most of the censorship in high schools, and they’re much less likely than boys to push back when they’re censored. The Active Voice project is working on solutions, starting with a nationwide awareness campaign. Find out how you can get involved

If your adviser is presenting at convention, don’t go to his/her sessions

  • This isn’t to say that your adviser isn’t a valuable speaker, but you have access to him/her all the time. Try to learn from new people. It’s good to hear various points of view and learn from experts in different fields. You don’t grow as a journalist by listening to the same people all the time. You need variety.


Try to avoid sit-down places for lunch so you can get back to sessions

  • This goes back to the idea that you shouldn’t skip sessions. While sit-down places can be nice, maybe save those for dinner. Keep lunch short and sweet because there are speakers to get back to and presentations to hear.

Walk the city, don’t uber everywhere

  • The best way to learn about a new place is to walk it. You’ll see more of the city this way and who knows what you might stumble upon around the corner

Be respectful during the awards ceremony

  • The ceremony might be long, but try to stay off your phone and be respectful of those who are accepting awards. Be sure to cheer on more than just your own publication as well, but try not to get too obnoxious when cheering.