Destiny Smith represents Utah journalism at conference in Washington D.C.

The 51 journalism scholars of the 2014 Al Neuharth Free Spirit Conference gather in front of the Newseum Institute in Washington, D.C.

Photo courtesy of the Newseum Institute

The 51 journalism scholars of the 2014 Al Neuharth Free Spirit Conference gather in front of the Newseum Institute in Washington, D.C.

Destiny Smith, Sports Editor

“Congratulations! You have been selected to represent the state of Utah at the 2014 Al Nueharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference. You will receive a $1000 scholarship and you will attend the conference in Washington D.C, June 21-26, 2014.”

Every year, fifty-one aspiring young journalists find these words resting in their email inbox and travel to D.C for the Al Nueharth Free Spirit and Journalism conference. Only one high school junior is chosen per state (including Washington D.C.) for their outstanding journalistic experience and ambition.

The Newseum Institute and the Freedom Forum not only awards the recipients with a $1000 scholarship to the college of their choice and an all-expenses-paid trip to D.C., but also provides students with the opportunity to learn life-lasting lessons. After arriving in D.C. via plane or train, the scholars are brought to the Holiday Inn where they’ll be staying for the next 5 days. The majority of activities take place in the Newseum, a museum dedicated to news with several rooms featuring archives showcasing various media in print, broadcasting, and digital.

The Newseum contains some of history’s most “newsworthy” moments including an actual section of the Berlin wall, plane parts from 9/11 and a copy of the world’s first newspaper. With so many different things to admire and learn about in the Newseum, there is one thing, which could be considered the “anthem” and the foundation of it all, the First Amendment.

The First Amendment lives throughout the whole building and is referenced on almost every wall. The name of the Newseum was originally going to be the Nueharth Newseum after the late Al Nueharth. Al refused the offer. Instead he wanted to use his power to give an opportunity to young journalists and so the Al Nueharth Free Spirit and Journalism conference was born.

“In today’s world, we’re all neighbors, not foreigners,” Al Nueharth.

It was his goal to create a workplace that shared equal opportunities to all people. He was a man of many legacies, including the illustrious USA Today. Equality among any race, gender and orientation was one of the most important things to him.

“Little league failures lead to big league successes,” Al Nueharth.

SoDak Sports, a newspaper dedicated to the sports taking place in South Dakota was the first of many newspapers created by Al (and co-founded by Bill Porter). The weekly paper ended up going bankrupt about a year after it’s kickoff. Losing the $50,000 that he had borrowed, Al experienced the worst failure of his career. Although he hit rock bottom, Al got back in the game and after pushing for success harder after every failure, he became one of the biggest names in media.

Al was born and raised on a farm in South Dakota where he and his family had to endure the Great Depression. He experienced a struggle many people can’t imagine. Despite his challenging childhood, Al was stubborn against failure and used every opportunity he could to climb to the top. His life experience and amount of struggles due to a lack of funds gives him the ability to sympathize for people at a financial disadvantage.

The conference is a great way to learn about all the aspects that come along with the journalism business. Also, winning an award, a medal with your name engraved, a free trip to Washington D.C, and a scholarship, isn’t too bad either. All juniors interested in journalism are strongly encouraged to sign up. For more information, speak to Ms. Floch in room F-207.