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Young journalists shine during NINA panel

by Dan Campana

Remember, the light at the end of the tunnel may be you.

That line – a kicker to close out the album version of Aerosmith’s 1993 hit “Amazing” – came to mind as the NINA Virtual Awards Celebration wrapped up on Oct. 28. It’s an optimistic, introspective sentence which reminds us all to look inward for the answers we’re seeking.


With no shortage of questions floating around the print world, the NINA board took a different approach for the headliner of the association’s annual gathering. Instead of an established industry name offering sage words of wisdom as a keynote speaker, five young journalists took the Zoom spotlight to show the old guard the future is here.


The panel – Diana Anghel, editor-in-chief at the Daily Illini; Gabe Brady, lifestyle editor of The Alestle at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville; Ashley Daniels, a junior journalism major at Illinois State working in print, TV and radio; Wes Sanderson, Northern Star editor-in-chief at Northern Illinois University; and Emma Snyder, NINA’s 2021 High School Scholarship winner in her first semester at ISU’s Daily Vidette – shared the realities of digital newspapers and journalism ethics in a tumultuous time for college students, as well as, gulp, their view on whether print is dead.


While no one outright killed off newspapers, each offered mature-beyond-their-years context for why digital and social media platforms are here to stay for journalists and news consumers. That’s a pretty sobering take on reality that could be dismissed as the opinion of some kids, but nothing could be further from the truth. This panel’s lasting impression went much deeper.


Collectively, these are young adults who want to report, write, dig into issues, break stories and hone their skills as modern journalists who understand the importance of old-school basics. Regardless of whether journalism’s pipeline has much depth right now, it’s not depleted and it’s not lacking for truly talented individuals. Diana, Gabe, Ashley, Wes and Emma proved that.


What this insightful group shared about the future of journalism also bodes well for NINA. As the association nears its 60th year in 2022, it needs an injection of youth, diversity and innovative spirit. “Forged in Print, Focused on the Future” is NINA’s diamond anniversary slogan because it links where we’ve been to where we need to go.


It’s starts with NINA’s member publications who have reporters, photographers and editors producing award-winning content, but who might not know about the NINA community they are a part of. These journalists are the untapped resource NINA must embrace – they may very well be the light at the end of the tunnel as the association looks to adapt and grow for years to come.


Thank you to those who attended October’s celebration and everyone who is committed to being a part of NINA’s next chapters.