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K-State Today

April 26, 2018

K-State JMC student participates in 2018 NNAF News Fellows program

Submitted by Kylie Kinley

Monica Diaz, fifth from the left, and other 2018 National Newspaper Association Foundation news fellows, and their mentors pause for a photo on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court Building during NNA’s Leadership Summit.

Monica Diaz, sophomore in journalism and mass communications, was among seven students selected from across the country to participate in the National Newspaper Association Foundation's News Fellows Program March 14-15 in Washington, D.C. The program was in coordination with Community Newspaper Leadership Summit and is the sixth year the foundation has offered the program.

Diaz was sponsored by the Kansas Press Association, and her mentors were Steve Haynes, president and publisher, Nor'West Newspapers, The Oberlin Herald, Oberlin, and Cynthia Haynes, publisher, The Oberlin Herald. Journalism students can apply for the program through their state newspaper association.

This year, the topic was how do the major political parties find ways to work together, "Red State, Blue State; What a State of Affairs!" The students were given the opportunity to meet with policymakers and policy influencers during their time in the city. Some of them also met with their states' congressional representatives in Washington, D.C., and from their home states. Part of the assignment is to determine the facts of a story from the spin the sides of the issue present to the public.

"Representing Kansas State University and the NNA was an experience of a lifetime," Diaz said. "I learned about the political divide throughout the United States and specifically throughout the state of Kansas. Alongside six other fellows and phenomenal mentors, I was able to learn how to use journalism to bridge the political divide."

To help with the students' meetings and getting around town, they were matched with veteran journalists who act as mentors during their stay. The students also are required to write at least one article for publication on the topic. These articles may be placed in their school papers or published locally through their state newspaper associations. They're also printed in Publishers' Auxiliary, the association's trade publication.

On the students' first day, they had a news briefing with Diane Randall, executive secretary of the Friends Committee on National Legislation at the group's headquarters. After that, they met with Donna Murphy from Better Angles, a citizen's group focused on facilitating communication across political differences.

The following day, the students traveled to the Newseum for a briefing by Jan Neuharth, chair and chief executive officer of the Freedom Forum, and for a tour of the Newseum by Shelby Coffey III, vice chair of the Newseum. After the tour, the students went to Capitol Hill for their scheduled visits with their representatives or their staffs. Later in the day, they attended a briefing by Representatives David Trott, Republican from Michigan, and Debbie Dingell, Democrat from Michigan, at The Capitol Club. That evening, the students gathered at the National Press Club for dinner and to hear the summit's keynote speaker, Lally Weymouth, senior associate editor of the Washington Post, and the daughter of former Washington Post publishers Donald Graham and Katherine Graham.

The next day, the students went to the Gallup building for a briefing about data on how and where the nation is split but also on issues where it seems more united. They finished their time in Washington with a lunch meeting with the National Newspaper Association board to talk about their experiences with the News Fellows Program.

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