I am thrilled to be back in this city full of energy, pollution, fashion, food, and – most importantly, of course – most of the major media companies in the country. I may be missing PDX coffee, but that hasn’t stopped me from downing 13 cups a day (for accuracy’s sake, that’s a bit of an exaggeration) to run around all day going to sessions on everything from photography to Google analytics, a Broadway show (Once is amazing), and meeting other student journalists from around the country.
There was one awkward moment when I walked into the wrong session and realized everyone was talking about why to stay involved in student media even if you don’t want to be a journalist, and from the front row I slowly realized this is the one session going on in the whole conference center that does not apply to me at all. Right now, anyway. Maybe when I’m unemployed in a year and realize that everyone who told me breaking into journalism was really hard wasn’t just a pessimist I will wish I had stayed. But of course I got out of there quickly, and after making a quick coffee stop (seriously, this coffee thing got out of hand), I headed to a great feature writing session. Since the other staffers did a fantastic job covering the sessions in their posts, I’ll focus on my main takeaway’s for The Beacon. But first, a few of the session highlights:
“Find the humanity in sports. The greed, sloth, anger, emotion.” – Jeff McGregor, ESPN
“Even when writing for a magazine or website with a slant, such as a feminist magazine, you are responsible for reporting both sides of the story. Keep your credibility” – Julian Wright, AQ (Abberrance Quarterly)
“If you want to get creative with fonts, get in advertising. Don’t just grab some shit and plug it in there.” – Ron Johnson, Indiana University
Last year, CMANYC13 was inspiring and cemented my interest in journalism. After being EIC for a year, however, it was an even more fruitful experience. It is cool to know I can begin to implement changes immediately instead of waiting six months. After reflecting on the conference, here are a few shifts I think The Beacon should aim for:
- More cooperative workflow. I’m not exactly sure yet how I’m going to make this one happen, but if the reporter, photographer, web person and designer work together throughout the development of the story, it will be stronger in both print and online. It would also be nice to involve reporters more throughout the process, particularly when they are working on a complex or significant story. Mandy Jenkins of Digital First Media showed us these two slides. The first is the old style of journalism, which is basically how The Beacon tends to operate. The second is a new, more cooperative style of journalism. Since we are not all in the same newsroom all day (there’s this thing called class we all have to attend now and then), this is a lot more difficult to accomplish. But I still think it’s a mindset we can move toward adopting.
- An “everyone does everything” culture. Although photographers primary job is to take pictures, they should do some reporting or interview a source of two when on the scene to write cutlines and be aware of how to present the story most accurately through visuals. On that same note, reporters should also get used to taking their own photos, and everyone should learn to make videos.
- Staff social media accounts helping to promote work. Our Beacon SM accounts have vastly improved this year. Although we are still trying to improve our reach and interaction with our readers, it would be so much more beneficial for content to be pushed from 30 accounts instead of just one. So, one of the things I want most out of life right now is for every single reporter and photographer on staff to be active on twitter and other social media and pushing out their work on a regular basis. I’ve been thinking up a few ideas for how to encourage this. They might all be wishful thinking, but they’re still worth a try.
Obviously there are a lot of nit picky details I’m thinking about too (hello even more white space) and new web ideas I want to try out (interactive timelines?!), but if I can make the above goals happen in the coming months, the Beacon will be stronger than ever.
- Kelsey Thomas, EIC