Salem College Hosts First Annual Publications Conference

By Emily Ramser
Photo by Kristen Maikoo

    With attendees from North Carolina State, Guilford College, UNC Greensboro and Winston-Salem State, Salem College hosted its first Collegiate Publications and Journalists (CPJ) Conference on April 30. Roughly 50 to 60 students attended the conference throughout the day.

      “The conference is meant to promote journalism and collegiate publications, both of which are beginning to garner less and less attention by college students. Furthermore, we are hoping to assist collegiate journalists and writers with growing their writing, design, and networking skills,” says the CPJ conference website.

         The conference was sponsored by Salem’s Chapter of the Society of Collegiate Journals (SCJ), Dean Susan Calovini, and Salem’s Student Government Association (SGA). SCJ was started last spring by former Incunabula Editor-in-Chief Sarah Foil, former Sights & Insights Editor-in-Chief Caroline Jones and former Salemite Editor-in-Chief Monique Ahmad. Ramser, current Incunabula Editor-in-Chief, took over after Foil and Jones’s graduation in May 2015 and was elected president of Salem’s SCJ chapter in the fall of 2015. Ramser, SCJ vice president Katherine Williams and SCJ secretary Kristen Maikoo have spearheaded the conference planning.

     Kaitlin Montgomery, Editor-in-Chief of NC State’s student newspaper The Technician, was the keynote speaker for the day. She presented on how she became a “#girlboss” through her running of The Technician. In her talk, she focused on the discrimination she had faced both online and in person regarding her being Editor-in-Chief of The Technican.

   Junior Kayla Conway, Incunabula‘s Assistant Editor, says that Montgomery’s session was her  favorite session of the day. “My personal favorite was the talk on how to be a #girlboss,” said Conway. “[It] helped me understand more where to draw the line between the personal and the professional through tips on how to handle certain situations and, when it comes to it, damage control.”

     Two students from Guilford College,  Allison DeBusk and Beatriz Caldas, also presented at the conference. DeBusk, a senior at Guilford College, is the Editor-in-Chief of  The Guilfordian and sophomore Caldas is the Social Justice and Diversity Coordinator of the college’s paper. The two hosted a talk titled “A Guide To Being A Social Justice Newspaper” during the second session of the day.

    The closing session, “What I Wish I Knew: Tips for Young Journalists,” was hosted by Meghann Evans, a reporter for the Winston-Salem Journal. Evans, a Salem alumna from the class of 2009, offered suggestions to student journalists for how they can transition from being a part of a student paper to a professional paper.

    Senior Carolina Ovando found the session to be both “informational and applicable.” Ovando says,“She [Evans] had lots of applicable personal experiences. It was like, I did this so you can do it too.”

    Salem students juniors Pat Berryhill, Rachel Taylor and Ramser also presented on a variety of topics. Berryhill presented on networking. “I enjoyed the experience of putting a workshop together and seeing where my pitfalls were, meeting new people is always a plus,” said Berryhill when asked about her experience.

    Professionals, such as Karen Weintraub, a freelancer for the The New York Times and Harvard Extension Professor, Weasel Patterson, owner and editor of Weasel Press, Spring-Serenity Duvall, Salem College professor of Communication and Laura Leigh Abby, creator of 2Brides2Be, also presented.

    First-year Sam Thurman attended Weintraub’s session on science journalism and came away having learned a lot.

    “I went in expecting a fairly regular, bland approach to writing science, but I was pleasantly surprised,” says Thurman. “The angles to which she analyzed the field and the approach she took to presenting it made everything very interesting.”

    Williams enjoyed helping with the conference, as it provided her with many opportunities to network with other collegiate journalists. Williams, Ramser and Maikoo are already looking at ways to improve next year’s conference.

   Williams says, “I think the biggest difficulty was having the expectation of the people who had signed up would all be there, and then having some not show. It made me wonder as to why.” In order to find out that and how to improve overall, she and the other staff are working on a feedback survey to send out to attendees. Those interested in assisting with next year’s conference should email Ramser at

    Conway says that she enjoyed the conference. “I think that the idea of bringing students that work on other publications together to share ideas and discuss what they’ve done to become successful in order to help others do the same is really wonderful and it was a valuable experience to be able to tap into the world of other schools to see similarities and differences between Salem and other college publications.”

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