Despite getting this press release from the Associated Collegiate Press last month, I wanted to wait until I was sure it was legit. The organization was acknowledging a group of educators, advisers and other student media folks as being extremely important people and for some reason, my name was on the list.
In honor of its 100th birthday, Associated Collegiate Press will celebrate 101 journalism educators and advocates with its inaugural ACP Pioneer Awards at the Fall National College Media Convention.
Pioneers are distinguished journalism educators and advocates who have provided exceptional leadership for collegiate media programs and made exceptional contributions to collegiate journalism and to the association in its service.
The Pioneer is the only award ACP presents to journalism educators.
Turns out, it wasn’t a typo, and on Friday morning, I got a chance to see the inside of the National Press Club while people I deeply admire said nice things about so many important people in this strange little second family of mine known as student media. I still am amazed that someone thought I belonged in that group, and it’s not a humble-brag on my part.
I was literally the youngest person in the room, other than the kids of some of the other award winners and my own family that accompanied me there. The people I knew on that list were titans who dedicated their lives to student media, many of them until their dying days. Those I didn’t know, I sat in awe of as the event coordinators listed their achievements, which included Pulitzer Prizes, Hall of Fame honors and lifetimes of achievements I will never reach. To be there was something to behold.
I didn’t want to write about this pretty much for the same reason it took me three years to use my own textbook in a class for which I had specifically written it: This just felt weaselly. However, I acquiesced on that occasion for the same reason I am here: It’s not really about me.
The people who made this possible are the people who put faith in me when they really had no reason to do so. The folks who hired me for newspaper jobs I wasn’t qualified for. The board members of student media who trusted me to bail out newspapers, even though I lacked business acumen. The publishers who hired me to write books, having never done so on my own before, and the educators who figured they’d give the book a chance, even if it meant rewriting years of curriculum. I got really, really lucky in each of those cases that I got a chance, something I know not everyone gets.
The best part for me was that Amy and Zoe got to be a part of this. Despite having to be awake and in nice clothing at 7 a.m., Zoe was excited to see an actual student media convention and get a really nice breakfast.
On the walk back to the hotel, she told me, “I get it now. This is your thing. You look so happy when you’re around your student media friends. You really should spend more time with these people.”