National journalism convention canceled for first time since inception


JEA/NSPA have hosted high school conventions for more than 45 years, but for the first time ever, the spring convention, to be held in Nashville, was canceled. Seven Riordan journalism students were scheduled to attend the four-day event that included workshops and contests.

Steven Rissotto ’20, Editor-in-Chief

For the first time since 1973, high school writers across the country were unable to meet at the annual JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention, which was canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The event was slated to take place in Nashville at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center from April 16-18.

The Journalism Education Association and the National Scholastic Press Association released a statement regarding the cancellation saying, “With the overwhelming concerns of COVID-19, which have prompted schools to ban travel and/or to close for extended periods of time, we want to give our members the ability to focus on the greater challenges awaiting them at home, in their schools, and in their communities.”

This announcement came shortly after the national pandemic was made official. As of now, the fall convention in mid-November is still scheduled to happen. The next spring convention is on the calendar for April of 2021 in Seattle.

The event has occurred every spring and every fall, never being postponed or canceled, not even after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.

At the convention, students attend seminars, workshops, meetings, and guest speaker sessions in an effort to learn more about the media industry. Students can also partake in numerous different activities, like write-offs and award ceremonies.

College representatives are also situated around the hotel to advise students about majoring in journalism at their school.

It’s always a tough task for schools to find flights and hotel rooms, but this particular year it was challenging to a larger extent. After a rogue tornado ruined parts of Nashville in early March, residents were racing to book hotels as they recovered from the ruin. This trend left virtually no chance for advisers to find a hotel anywhere near the already booked Gaylord Opryland.

The Crusader newspaper adviser, Susan Sutton, has been attending the convention for 20 years as a teacher, and also when she was in high school.

“I was surprised at how difficult it was to get flights and hotel rooms,” she said. “I have never had such a difficult time planning for the convention, and then, once everything seemed to be falling in line, the tornado hit, followed by the coronavirus. It’s like it was not meant to be.”

“I was looking forward to seeing another state that is incredibly different from California,” said staff reporter Andrei Lynch ’22. “I was intrigued by the fact that I was scheduled to compete in the feature writing write-off.”

Archbishop Riordan High School’s newspaper staff has attended the convention for the past two years, in San Francisco in 2018 and Anaheim last spring. They were set to be present at the Nashville Convention before the outbreak and spread.

“I wasn’t surprised it was canceled due to what was going on with the pandemic,” Lynch added. “I was very disappointed because I was very excited to go.”