From back left, Faculty Adviser Allison Hattaway with GHC students Brandon Dyer, (from front left) Abby Chesnut and Caleb Blaylock

GHC student news staff returns from conference in D.C.

Staffers from the Georgia Highlands College (GHC) student news organization The Six Mile Post (SMP) recently attended the Fall National College Media Convention in Washington, D.C.   

Allison Hattaway, faculty adviser for the SMP and Assistant Professor of Journalism and Communications, said it was important for members of staff to attend the conference so that they could sit in sessions alongside their peers from across the nation who have the same goals of bringing news to their communities.  

Staff members who attended this conference were Editor-in-Chief Brandon Dyer; Online, Social Media and Visual Arts Editor Abby Chesnut; and Station Manager Caleb Blaylock.  

“The old saying that ‘iron sharpens iron’ is so true,” Hattaway said. “Our staff members were able to see what they were already doing, that is keeping up with trends in journalism, and what they could do better, differently, or more efficiently.”   

Hattaway said SMP staffers gained confidence by attending the conference and learning that their news organization was operating in a similar capacity as others, while also learning ways to improve.  

“They walked away with a comfort level that our program may be small, but we are practicing sound journalism and heading in the right direction with our goals,” Hattaway said.  

Chesnut said the trip was not only a good opportunity to travel to a new place and attend an engaging conference, but she also brought back many ideas to improve the SMP’s social media presence and newspaper layout.   

“I loved Philadelphia Inquirer’s Emily Bloch’s session called ‘Life’s Too Short for Boring Social Media.’ She had this amazing energy and genius ideas regarding engaging Instagram posts,” Chesnut said. “I also had a great time at ‘Supercharge Your Creativity’ with Kevin Fullerton from Springboard Creative and Linda Putney from the University of Missouri-Columbia. They incorporated fun activities to promote teamwork and thinking out of the box.”  

Chesnut said at first she was nervous about taking on a role at the SMP and handling a full course load, but it was a great decision. She said students from all programs of study and backgrounds should consider exploring opportunities with the SMP.  

“I’ve been able to use my skills in an environment that promotes learning and working with others,” Chesnut said. “I’ve been on the staff for a year now and what I love about it is that there is always something different.”  

Student Spin Station Manager Caleb Blaylock said the conference was an opportunity to learn new skills, tips and tricks to improve his podcasts. 

“My main takeaway from the conference is that there are stories everywhere,” Blaylock said. “Just because news and events may seem slow, especially on a local level, there is always something happening that people need to know about. I gained a lot of insight into how to best pursue stories using research, networking, and using recording devices in unique ways to capture all aspects of the story.”   

He said listening to famed journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward’s keynote was particularly inspiring. 

“They are one of the greatest examples of why journalism is so important, and why it is so vital to question power structures to keep their authority in check,” Blaylock said. “I also loved the keynote that featured Juana Summers. She expressed the importance of solidarity with your colleagues and why unionizing is so important to ensuring a free, fair and balanced workplace.”   

The student news organization has a celebrated history. At the end of Spring semester of 2022, the Georgia College Press Association awarded the Six Mile Post close to a dozen awards in various categories.