NorCal Media Conference emphasizes students’ freedom of speech

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Written by Shawna Chen, Grace Ding and Shannon Yang

The Journalism Education Association of Northern California held its annual NorCal Media Conference, known as Journalism Day or J-Day, today at the Palo Alto High School Media Arts Center. High school journalists from around the Bay Area and Northern California were invited to participate in the day’s activities.

[VIDEO] Journalism Day Highlights

The conference began at 10 a.m. with sessions varying from “Photography basics for journalists” to “Strengthening your staff.” Students were free to attend the sessions in which they were most interested, and this structure ran for the entire day.

Take a look at some of the session descriptions in the interactive map below.

The keynote of the day featured a film screening of “Taking the Lede,” a documentary written and directed by University of Colorado, Boulder Professor Marguerite Moritz. “Taking the Lede” featured four different Colorado cases in which student voice played a role in changing the narrative, Moritz said.


An opening scene from “Taking the Lede” is projected onto the screen at the Paly Media Center.

The film walked the audience through Stradley Lake High School’s coverage of Jefferson County students who protested the district censorship of history, a high school journalist’s undercover investigation into army recruitment fraud, a yearbook staff’s remembrance of its school shooting and two editors who stood up against an administration that censored their photo of a lesbian couple.

Moritz speaks about the making of

Moritz speaks about the making of “Taking the Lede.”

Moritz said film production started in 2014 as part of a journalism class she taught at the University of Colorado, Boulder. “We tried to parcel out parts of a documentary,” she said. She emphasized the importance of student voice, especially in the twenty-first century.

Though she said there is not much of an American interest to “go to bat for high school journalists,” she encouraged students to continue pursuing journalism and actively push their voice. “Student journalists at the high school level will always know more about teenage experiences than any other media,” she said.