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Your source for everything Monarch


Your source for everything Monarch


An Experience Worth the Newseum’s Weight in Gold

Photo by Dave Eggen
Charlie with USA Today and Freedom Forum founder Al Neuharth

If I had to select, out of the dozens of valuable lessons I learned this summer at the Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference, the single most important one, I would choose what I learned about possibility.

This program would never have happened if not for a man from South Dakota with very humble beginnings, who diligently worked, and more importantly, took risks to achieve his lifelong goals. Even though this man’s possibilities were never promising at a young age, he continued to give a maximum effort to his journalism pursuits. This man is Al Neuharth, who so graciously welcomed us into the conference’s home, the Newseum, along with the exceptional staff who put together such an unforgettable week.

I was selected as the Colorado representative for the conference, and I joined 50 other incoming seniors in high school, one from each state plus Washington D.C., on a six-day conference that covered the evolution of media, the inner-workings of the federal government, and much more.

I had been to Washington D.C. before this trip, but the city had never seemed as magical as it did this time. For six days I explored one of my greatest passions and the very best that it had to offer in the world: we toured the USA Today offices, met national TV show hosts Bob Schieffer and David Gregory, and discovered the deep history of the profession in the captivating exhibits of the Newseum. (If I had another six full days just to explore that place, I still don’t think that would be enough to take in everything it has to offer).

If all that wasn’t enough, I met some of the brightest and most interesting people that I have ever known. Conversations on the bus about journalism, high school, and life in general helped to anchor friendships that will stay with me for a long time.

Although at first I didn’t think I was worthy of being classified with such smart and accomplished students, I soon learned that such a mentality is very foolish. Attitude and determination have almost everything to do with how we live our lives, as evidenced by many of our presenters.

During the week we skyped with Sara Ganim, a young Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter from Pennsylvania, who was the first to break the Sandusky story. She showed us you don’t have to be a big-shot journalist to report a big story. You only have to be determined to find the facts, no matter how difficult that can be. We also heard from Dr. Rip Patton, a Freedom Rider who had the courage to stand up against an immoral system of segregation. Ganim helped to bring the worst scandal in college athletics into the public’s eye, and Patton is regarded as an American hero for his work.

What Neuharth, Ganim, and Patton taught me is that one’s background and job title don’t matter. Anyone can set out to do just about anything they want to as long as they are willing to do some work. As Mr. Neuharth’s motto goes: Dream. Dare. Do.

Years worth of Mr. Neuharth’s monumental accomplishments were all harvested from his dedication that was inspired by that simple phrase, and I will always be grateful of Mr. Neuharth, Mr. Jack Marsh, all the presenters, and the Newseum staff for their passing on of not just the phrase itself, but the idea behind it that inspired people such as Patton and Neuharth to push the limits of possibility.

This conference helped me grow as not only a journalist, but also as a person, and I will never forget how incredibly lucky I am to have attended.

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