Canadian University Press annual journalism conference
From January 4 to 7, nine members of The Xaverian Weekly joined hundreds of other student journalists for a conference in below zero temperatures in the city of Toronto. NASH80 is an annual journalism conference that brings together university newspapers from across the country. The conference, that began in 1938, was established as a tradition of the Canadian University Press (CUP), a national union and network for student newspapers.
Each year the conference is hosted by a different university paper, and this year it was hosted by The Eyeopener, Ryerson University’s independent student paper. The conference was held at the Chelsea Hotel in the heart of downtown Toronto and included multiple panels, workshops, creative discussions, round tables and keynote presentations lead by industry professionals.
I attended a variety of panels including some on equity, opinions, diversity in the newsroom, reporting on the opioid crisis, writing about sex, and a “no men allowed” round table, just to name a few. There were panels that would appeal to many as well as the three powerful keynote speakers: Ginella Masa, Robyn Doolittle and Desmond Cole who reflected on their work in the field, what journalism looks like today and the unique obstacles they each face in challenging the status quo in an industry that is far too often ridden with hidden agendas, prejudice, and silencing of voices.
I asked Eyeopener journalists and NASH80 coordinators Sierra Amirah, Sidney Drmay and Farnia Fekri about their overall goal for the weekend and the theme they chose for the conference: Connect. They explained, “the goal of NASH80 was to create something that was truly intersectional, where every young journalist could see themselves in that space and know that they should be a part of media. We wanted people to Connect with each other, the industry, the work and the systems it operates on. To see both the good and the bad things about journalism right now and find ways to improve it.”.
These three hardworking individuals put together a conference that was truly intersectional and featured speakers of many genders, races, and backgrounds. It gave the voices of Canadian universities an opportunity to connect with professionals and discuss how to improve stories and coverage, while also providing a time of reflection on our school administrations and the similar challenges we face in the different corners of the country.
Overall, connecting with other students and writers who share our passions during sessions, or just over a beer at the end of the night was a real refresher for myself and other students about the role we play on our campus and the responsibilities associated with this role. It was decided that next year’s NASH conference, NASH81, will take place in Calgary and will be hosted by The Gauntlet, University of Calgary’s independent student newspaper. I look forward to hopefully attending this conference again next year, and watching this long and excellent tradition continue to grow in the future.