Chuck Todd speaks to students after a live broadcast of Meet the Press.

Chuck Todd speaks after a live broadcast of NBC’s Meet the Press.

In June, I attended the Al Neuharth Free Spirit & Journalism Conference at the Newseum in Washington D.C. after being selected to represent Arizona at this all-expenses-paid media conference.

With fifty other top student journalists from every state in America, I spent a week in the nation’s capital touring newsrooms, meeting prominent media professionals, and discussing first amendment issues.

On Sunday, June 21, I met NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd and watched a live taping of Meet the Press, the longest-running television program in history.

Meet the Press Broadcast

Photo courtesy of the Newseum Institute.

Later on, PBS NewsHour co-anchors Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff spoke about their unique perspective on the industry as a non-profit journalistic operation.

Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill speak to students.

Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill speak to students. Photo courtesy of the Newseum Institute.

We also toured the USA TODAY headquarters in McLean, Virginia as the company was splitting itself into two separate entities.

Students tour the headquarters of USA TODAY in Virginia.

Students tour the headquarters of USA TODAY in Virginia. Photo courtesy of the Newseum Institute.

Senate Radio & Television Correspondents Gallery Director Mike Mastrian led us through a tour of the Senate, including a visit to the press center and the Senate floor.

Senate Tour

Photo courtesy of the Newseum Institute.

Doug Mills

Doug Mills

Doug Mills, the long-time New York Times photojournalist, presented his most iconic photos of presidents from Reagan to Obama and spoke about his career.

We also met editors and reporters from The Washington Post, POLITICO, NPR, and CNN. All of these media professionals took questions and we certainly enjoyed the unusual opportunity to connect with so many prominent professionals all in the same place.

We spent hours exploring D.C., cruising the Potomac, and discussing politics, the industry, and our diverse backgrounds. Sessions covered the state of the media business, political reporting, and much more.

The program was established by the late Al Neuharth, who founded USA TODAY and endowed the Newseum program. In addition to the fascinating program, I made great friends and the food were excellent. I’m very grateful for this great opportunity.

Students examine other attendees' newspapers from all 50 states.

Students examine other attendees’ newspapers from all 50 states. Photos courtesy of Newseum Institute.

Photos courtesy of the Newseum Institute.