Pulitzer-winners, packed rooms and in-depth legal trainings: highlights from SPLC’s return to in-person conventions

Three women sit on stools on a stage
Student journalist Elena Eberwein (left) interviews Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor during the SPLC-sponsored keynote address of the 2022 Spring CMA Convention in New York. (Photo by Alexis Mason)

After two years without attending events in person, the Student Press Law Center staff finally came together again last week in New York City with student journalists from across the country for the Spring National College Media Convention.

This year, SPLC sponsored the keynote address led by Pulitzer Prize winning journalists and authors, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey. Kantor and Twohey, interviewed by student journalist Elena Eberwein, discussed their book “Chasing the Truth” which breaks down their careers as journalists bringing forward the #MeToo movement and highlights their tips for young journalists looking to uncover truth.  

“As a journalist, your only guide is the truth. That’s why the book is called chasing the truth. That’s your north star,” Kantor said during the keynote speech. “You can be sympathetic and aggressive, but ultimately you are trying to serve the truth.”

Hadar Harris, executive director of SPLC, said it was a thrill to bring Kantor and Twohey to the convention this year. 

“We have seen a significant increase in reporting on #MeToo issues on campuses and in campus communities because of their work,” Harris said. “SPLC’s work has changed significantly because of the number of pre-publication reviews we do for both college and high school journalists who are walking in Jodi and Megan’s footsteps by doing important investigative work.”

The keynote was followed by a session led by SPLC about reporting on #MeToo, which needed to relocate to a larger room to accommodate the high number of attendees. 

SPLC hosted a number of other events throughout the convention, starting with a pre-convention Media Law Boot Camp hosted by Harris and Mike Hiestand, senior legal counsel at SPLC. The final five sessions offered student journalists and advisers the opportunity to ask a lawyer their questions about challenges they are facing, discuss their challenges with one another and get advice, learn about copyright, better understand freedom of information and gain insight into libel and defamation. 

SPLC staff also connected with the community by tabling throughout the convention.

“It was wonderful to see old friends, and the table gave students and advisers a chance to visit with us and talk about issues that they are facing,” said Alexis Mason, outreach and operations manager at SPLC. 

Harris said getting to finally be in person again was a great experience given the important work student journalists have been doing over the past two years, particularly in their work covering the pandemic since the last convention.   

“Being able to be together in person to learn from each other, to conduct trainings in person and to give each other hugs made it even better and more special,” Harris said.