Monica Diaz participates in NNAF News Fellows program
SPRINGFIELD, Illinois—Seven college students traveled to Washington in mid-March to participate in the National Newspaper Association Foundation's News Fellows Program. This is the sixth year the foundation has offered the program.
Monica Diaz, K-State sophomore in journalism and mass communications, was among students selected from across the country. She was sponsored by the Kansas Press Association, and her mentors were Steve Haynes, president and publisher, Nor'West Newspapers, The Oberlin Herald, Oberlin, Kansas and Cynthia Haynes, publisher, The Oberlin Herald, Oberlin, Kansas.
Journalism students can apply for the program through their state newspaper association. Those selected travel to the Washington area, funded by the state association or their association's foundation, to report on a topic of national importance.
The program ran during NNA's Community Newspaper Leadership Summit, March 14-15.
This year, the topic was how do the major political parties find ways to work together — "Red State, Blue State; What a State of Affairs!" The students were given the opportunity to meet with policymakers and policy influencers during their time in the city. Some of them also met with their states' congressional representatives in Washington and from their home states. Part of the assignment is to determine the facts of a story from the "spin" the sides of the issue present to the public.
"Representing Kansas State University and the NNA was an experience of a lifetime. I learned about the political divide throughout the United States and specifically throughout the state of Kansas. Alongside six other fellows and phenomenal mentors, I was able to learn how to use journalism to bridge the political divide." — Monica Diaz
The students are also required to write at least one article for publication on the topic. These articles may be placed in their school papers or published locally through their state newspaper associations. They're also printed in Publishers' Auxiliary, NNA's trade publication.
Their first day, the students had a news briefing with Diane Randall, executive secretary of the Friends Committee on National Legislation at the group's headquarters. After that, they met with Donna Murphy from Better Angles, a citizen's group focused on facilitating communication across political differences. The next day, the students travelled to the Newseum for a briefing by Jan Neuharth, chair and chief executive officer of the Freedom Forum, and for a tour of the Newseum by Shelby Coffey III, vice chair of the Newseum.
After the tour, the students went to Capitol Hill for their scheduled visits with their representatives or their staffs. Later in the day, they attended a briefing by Reps. David Trott, R-MI and Debbie Dingell, D-MI, at The Capitol Club. That evening, the students gathered at the National Press Club for dinner and to hear the summit's keynote speaker — Lally Weymouth, senior associate editor of the Washington Post, and the daughter of former Washington Post publishers Donald Graham and Katherine Graham.
The 2018 National Newspaper Association Foundation News Fellows and their mentors pause for a photo on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court Building during NNA’s Leadership Summit. From left to right are Liz Parker, with the News Jersey Hills Media Group; Merle Baranczyk, with Arkansas Valley Publishing in Salida, CO; Elissa Kedziorek, Western Michigan University; Cynthia Haynes with Haynes Publishing Co. in Oberlin, KS; Monica Diaz, Kansas State University; Lauryn Higgins, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Hunter Andes, Bismarck State College; Mady Johnston, Alvernia University-Madelyn; John Hammel, University of Georgia; Cassie Buchman, Eastern Illinois University; Chris Eddings, retired publisher from Baltimore, MD; and Steve Haynes with Haynes Publishing Co. in Oberlin, KS.