The clatter of fingers furiously flying across keyboards reverberates around the room as students from over 100 schools throughout the Central Valley prepare to compete in the annual Muckraker High School Journalism Conference held on March 6 at Fresno State.

The competition is sponsored by the Mass Communication and Journalism department at Fresno State and by the San Joaquin Valley Scholastic Press Association (SJVPA). During the day, the Feather staff will compete for individual and team awards.

“I think the conference is valuable because it encourages young journalists,” Gary Rice, conference director, said. “The more you write the better you become. In my 21 years in journalism and 10 or 11 years of teaching, I have found that people who write well tend to be better thinkers, and that is really the main goal.”

Students will attend seminars and compete in various events from 8:15 A.M. – 12 P.M. Students can compete in news writing, editorial writing, feature writing, advertising design, yearbook design, sports writing, newspaper design and news photography.

“Competing gives our staff as student writers an unique opportunity to test our abilities under pressure,” senior Eric Witters, ’04, associate editor, said. “While we have not had much success in the past, our staff has used this competition to improve and excel every year.”

Students who do not compete will attend various seminars. Seminars will include information about lead writing, interviewing, sports writing, music and movie review, feature writing and photography.

“This is my first year in journalism,”” Kira Armbruster, ’06, staff writer, said. “I am looking forward to learning new information in the seminars.”

Journalism adviser Greg Stobbe sees the conference as a way to help students advance their skills.

“”When my staff attends seminars and are able to watch staff writers from other high schools compete, it affords them valuable insights and perspectives on writing,” Stobbe said. “I hope we are able to improve our word usage, phrases and abilities in all facets of journalistic reporting.”

After an hour-long break for lunch, students will attend an awards ceremony from 1-2 P.M.

For additional information, contact SJVSPA conference director Gary Rice at (559) 278-2026 or go online at www.fresnostatenews.com.