Over spring break, the editors of Mosaic were fortunate enough to attend the College Media Association’s national conference in New York City. While there, we attended conference sessions about different facets of college media, met with professionals in the field and toured the sights of the Big Apple. We also picked up an Apple Award for third place in design for our Fall 2015 issue – *congratulations to our design team and our extraordinary creative director Maria Oswalt* – and hosted our own conference session about successfully integrating people of various academic majors into a magazine staff.

Here are some of the highlights from our adventures along with our favorite photos from the trip:



Elizabeth Elkin, Maria Oswalt and Emily Williams enjoy wandering the streets of New York City.

I am absolutely in love with New York City. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been mesmerized by the lights, the sounds, the people in constant motion; New York City feels alive. Before this trip, however, I had never been to the city as a professional. I feel so honored to have been able to attend the Spring National College Media Convention.

We arrived on Saturday, the day before the conference began. We did a little exploring in Brooklyn. Brooklyn is an amazingly fun, young, vibrant place. We explored some of the shops and went to, my personal favorite, a bookstore filled with books on topics I’d never thought about before. As a nerd and a writer, I love notebooks. I spent at least five minutes looking at the various types of covers and pages of notebooks in the store. We went to a quaint little Italian place with lights dangling everywhere.

The next day, I went to conference sessions. The first session I went to was about editors in chief who get things done. I spent the session brainstorming ideas for Mosaic’s staff next year. One idea I had was to create a guide for how to write, take pictures and design a page and give this guide to every member of staff on the first day of class. That way, everyone on staff knows the basics of every position from the beginning. I then went to sessions about the internship and job hunt, resume building and health reporting.

In addition to sessions, we toured Esquire, met with public relations specialists for Hearst and toured Reuters. The Hearst building is amazing. There’s a different floor for every magazine, an excellent cafeteria and a changing art exhibit near the entrance. Reuters overlooks Times Square. I loved touring the newsroom because it was like watching magic happen. We sat in on a budget meeting, where they discussed stories and phoned in reporters, and saw the various desks and people working for the organization. It’s so cool to see how many people it takes to really break news in the way Reuters does.

One night on our way to dinner, I looked up from my phone to find myself in front of The New York Times. It was an incredible moment for me. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve fantasized about working there. I had never seen the building. I was at a loss for words. It was one of the most amazing moments of the entire trip.

After this trip, I’m even more in love with New York than I was growing up. I’d love to live and work there someday, and I am so grateful for the opportunity Mosaic has given me.


The first word that comes to mind when I think of New York? Overwhelming. I mean that in the best way possible, although I’m definitely more of a small town kind of gal. It was my second time in the big apple for a CMA conference, and the constant hustle and bustle of big city life still kept me on my toes.

I’m a very visual person (being a designer, that makes sense), so I only attended sessions that were related to either graphics, branding or general design. My first and favorite session at the conference was focused on branding content. It was led by some professionals from Praytell, a creative communications PR group from Brooklyn who self-identified as “a different kind of agency.” These were some of my favorite branding content tips from them:

When developing a brand “voice,” imagine what the social media will look like. Write 100 example tweets, mock up some Instagram posts and Facebook posts.

• Don’t worry if you mess up! Mistakes on social media fade away quickly. Just keep truckin’ on; after quantity comes quality.

• Keep a stockpile of “core content” on hand. It will free you up to quickly create content on trending topics.

• Think about what your platform is best for

• Twitter is great for volume and lots of posts

• Facebook usually needs fewer posts, but you have the opportunity to put more content in each one

• Symbiotic relationships work well! Interact with your audience, share their posts when they relate to your content.


Maria Oswalt eyes a New York skyscraper while taking a break from walking.

Their presentation was energetic and interesting, and they even took the time to give specific advice to some of the students with questions in the room.

My other favorite experience in NYC was having lunch with the PR professionals at Hearst Magazines. I got to hand a copy of Alice Magazine — the women’s mag on campus where I am also Creative Director — to the Vice President of PR Alexandra Carlin at Hearst. She flipped through it and casually said, “Oh! I’ll pass this on to the editors at Seventeen!” and I definitely had an inner fangirl moment. She also went around the table and asked our opinions on the various media that we consume. I mentioned that I’m more likely to pick up a magazine when it has someone on the cover that I like, and when she asked me for an example of a person that might catch my eye, I said the first actress that came to mind: Emma Stone. (Hey, she’s funny, cute, and relatable!) Carlin thought for a moment, and with a wink she said, “Well, if you see her on the cover of one of our magazines sometime soon, you’ll know why.”

Overall, this trip to NY may have left me overwhelmed and intimidated at times, but it was an incredibly fruitful learning experience. I took away so much more than just tips for designing and branding magazines; I developed further in my professionalism and got to have conversations with big-time editors and designers.


NYC views

New York is chock-full with new perspectives and opportunities.

While I’ve never been a big city person, it’s nearly impossible not to get swept up in the fervor of New York. From the moment you step out of the taxi, everything seems more intense – the lights shine a little brighter, the sounds echo a little louder, the food is a little richer. We tried our best to soak up as much of this vibrancy as we could in the four short days we were in the city, and if the bags under our eyes in the airport terminal were any indication, I’d say we succeeded.

When I wasn’t attending sessions on travel writing or music festival coverage, I had the opportunity to tour the 60 Minutes offices at CBS Broadcast Studios. I got to meet with an assistant producer from the show and learn how they research and report the stories for on air. It was amazing to learn they can spend up to a year working on a story before it ends up on the show. We got a tour of the newsroom and the broadcast studio, and I got a sneak peak at Anderson Cooper’s office and see all of Leslie Stahl’s Emmys on display.

It amazes me how diverse a city New York is. In a matter of a few blocks we walked from the high-end shopping district of Soho to the warm lights and tantalizing smells of Little Italy and Chinatown and then back around to the campus of NYU. Every street looks familiar, like a scene out of a movie or a line from a Lou Reed record.

Another thing about the city is it’s full of surprises. I never would have thought that I’d have the best burger of my life at a Vietnamese-French fusion restaurant or find a tiki bar with sand on the floor in Brooklyn. Nor did I think we’d learn to navigate the subway, but with a little help from some locals we found our way across the city and back and we can now call the Q train home.


Even though we only spent four whole days in New York, the amount of things I bounced to and from throughout the conference and in the late afternoon was enough to keep someone busy for a week. This was the first time I had ever been to a CMA conference, and I was impressed not only by the caliber of their speakers, but also by how open all of these professionals were to both seeing our work and keeping in touch.


Nicole Rodriguez chows down on a Classic New York chili dog from a street vendor.

My favorite session would perhaps have been from AP’s deputy director of photography, Denis Paquin. His unapologetic honesty to sports photojournalism and standing out among the thousands of others helped shape my perspective on what it takes to be a great photographer. He took the time after his session to critique student’s photos, and I loved that he didn’t just give empty compliments without real feedback. Sessions like these at the CMA reminded me about the dangers of complacency.
With a population density of over 26,000 people per square mile, meeting a fellow Bama fan was inevitable. Before going to an Alabama alumni reunion, the editors and I decided to make a quick visit to the Museum of Modern Art. I walked up to the ticket counter and handed the man working the counter my student ID, to which he replied “roll tide”. Ecstatic, I repeated it back to him and found out he had graduated from UA this past December. I excitedly relayed the information to the other editors who then joined me at the counter, and he then gave us all free staff tickets to enter the museum as a show of school camaraderie. Needless to say, the three of us loved the MoMA and were glad to have a special memory tied to it.

Four days after landing in what is considered the city with everything, I managed to stumble into a magical Alice in Wonderland themed tea room, view Columbus Circle from an eclectic loft, learn from photographers in both the journalism and magazine worlds and even catch up with old friends who now live there. We woke up early each morning and crashed late every night to soak up everything New York had to offer.