Story by Polly Irungu

Video and photo by Ryan Lund

Nearly 800 aspiring student journalists from middle schools and high schools around Oregon gathered at the University of Oregon campus for the 31st annual Fall Press Day on Nov. 2. The Northwest Scholastic Press Association and the UO School of Journalism and Communication sponsored the day-long event.

“This is an important event for high school students because it allows them to engage with the study of journalism and their peers who share a similar interest on a deeper level,” said Anthony Whitten, scholastic journalism outreach coordinator and executive director of NWSP. “For high school journalism programs that can’t afford to travel to national conventions, this experience is a convenient and cost-effective alternative.”

At Fall Press Day, middle and high school students had the opportunity to attend workshops and panels and to participate in write-off competitions judged by SOJC faculty.

Jamilah Lemieux, vice president of men's programming for Interactive One, spoke about about the importance of responsible social media behavior at the 2016 Fall Press Day.

Jamilah Lemieux, vice president of men’s programming for Interactive One, spoke about the importance of responsible social media behavior at the 2016 Fall Press Day.

Jamilah Lemieux, vice president of news and men’s programming for Interactive One, was the featured keynote speaker for this year’s event.

Lemieux fell into the world of journalism and communications by accident. She says she got to where she is today by taking a nontraditional career path and leveraging her social media presence to build a brand for herself.

Lemieux addressed the full room of aspiring young journalists about the importance of responsible social media behavior. She mentioned the 2015 Pew Research Center study on teens, social media and technology, which revealed that 92 percent of all people ages 12-17 go online daily. She shared personal anecdotes and cultural examples that illustrated her points on the importance of being mindful of, and intentional with, what you post online, as well as the consequences for saying offensive or inappropriate things. She said she wanted students to walk away understanding that what you say online can live on forever and follow you in ways that can be both good and bad.

“I hope that I can get just one person to stop and think before sharing something online,” said Lemieux. “It doesn’t have to be posting something nasty that can get you in trouble. It can also be retweeting something else that someone said that was mean-spirited, inappropriate or not true that can cause you problems in your future plans.”

She closed her presentation with an idea most can relate to: “It’s very easy to fire off 140 characters, take a picture and post it, but what you post online will last longer than 140 seconds. Take an extra 2 seconds to say, ‘Hey, would this be really bad if my mom saw it?’”

Whitten said that next year’s Fall Press Day in Eugene, scheduled for Oct. 25, 2017, will be another opportunity to inspire the next generation of students who hope to work in the fields of journalism and communication.

“There is a perception that there are no jobs in journalism and that traditional forms of media are all but dead, when in reality the jobs have just shifted to include new media skills and forms,” he said. “The SOJC has a responsibility to be very vocal on the top-tier education it provides and the opportunities its students engage in.”

To that end, the success of Fall Press Day has inspired Whitten to host a Portland Press Day. “It is an opportunity for high school students to interact and learn from media professionals and journalism and communication professors,” Whitten said. “We will be providing sessions on topics including journalism, broadcasting, advertising, public relations, photography, layout and design, communication law, and the First Amendment.”

Portland Press Day will be Feb. 7, 2017, at the University of Oregon’s Portland campus at the George S. Turnbull Portland Center, located in the historic White Stag Building in downtown Portland.


Polly Irungu is a multimedia journalist and social media strategist who plans to graduate from the SOJC with a degree in journalism this fall. She is currently working as a digital content creator for the SOJC’s Communications team, a campus editor-at-large at The Huffington Post and a freelance production assistant for the PAC-12 Networks, and she’s also been published on CNNKVAL and YesJulz. A National Association of Black Journalists fellow in 2015 and 2016, she participated in the NABJ and National Association of Hispanic Journalists student newsroom to provide coverage of their historic joint convention for NABJ Monitor and Latino Reporter. She also worked in the Online News Association’s student newsroom Sept. 15-17, 2016. Previously, she has worked for TrackTown USA, Def Jam Records, Dell and Adobe. She made the 2013 and 2014 Daily Emerald Ducks Who Will Change the World list, and in May 2015, she was named the Women4Africa International Young Achiever of the Year. You can view her work at and follow her on TwitterInstagram and Snapchat @pollyirungu.

Ryan Lund is a senior double-majoring in cinema studies and journalism, with a minor in business administration. This is his first year as a digital content creator, with a specialization in videography and video editing, for the SOJC Communications office. He has also worked extensively with the Science and Memory project. Follow Ryan on Instagram and Twitter @RynoLund, and subscribe to his YouTube channel at NorthFern Productions.