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I went to Hearst Tower. Also, while there I smiled at a woman with dramatically wiry gray hair and a long leopard print coat and she totally scowled back at me, so The Devil Wears Prada is completely accurate. Basically, it was a great visit.

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These are the escalators in the entry way. They go up to the elevators which then take you to the various floors, each occupied by a different magazine. One the side of the escalators are glass waterfalls. The whole building is pretty eco-friendly, too.

Our tour guide, an exec for Hearst Corporation, gave us some background information on Hearst as a company and then took us through Good Housekeeping testing rooms and the Hearst executive offices on the top floor.

The editor-in-chief of Food Network Magazine chatted with our group for 45 minutes, and I also had a chance to ask our tour guide a few questions. The most exciting thing I learned personally was that they both had a background in newspapers. Our tour guide actually interned for the Bend Bulletin, and said Bend was “an… interesting experience” despite not being “what I would call a nature person.” And the editor of FNM said they prefer hiring people with a background in newspapers because they are meticulous about being their own fact checkers and copy editors.

My main takeaway: if you want to work in editorial, PR or even many types of marketing and business, newspapers are a great place to start. Cheers to journalism!

- Kelsey Thomas, EIC

Blazing lights and towering skyscrapers aside, the reason I was so jazzed about visiting New York City was the opportunity to get an exclusive walkabout around the offices of media companies. The CMA offered a handful of tours throughout the four-day convention to places like CNN and the Wall Street Journal. Those willing (and crazy enough) to fork even more media madness onto their convention schedule could sign up at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday.

Nothing gives one media maven street cred like a willingness to pop (read: crawl) out of bed at 6:30 a.m. to sit in a hallway, hoping to beat the line and win a coveted place on a tour group. So, naturally, I was loitering into the hallway at a quarter to 7, chatting with fellow convention-goers and hoping my jetlagged humor wasn’t offending anyone.

Told that I could pick only one media tour, I chose Democracy Now! – a station I regularly connect with when I volunteer at KBOO FM. As a bonus, the tour was held at 7:00 a.m. the next day, meaning I wouldn’t miss any conference session.

Democracy Now Office

Democracy Now Office

The office and studios of Democracy Now! were both everything and nothing what I’d expected: casual, homey and filled with an independent-media vibe. We were offered much-needed coffee and heavenly cookies while the education director Simin Farkhondeh gave us a quick summary of Democracy Now!’s founding and mission. It was intriguing to hear about the role of Democracy Now! in fighting homogeneous media conglomerates that control what passes through news outlets. We discussed the role of the audience in creating show content, what social media plans they had in place, and where they saw the station heading next.

Democracy Now! Tour

Democracy Now! Tour

While my heart belongs to print journalism, broadcast will always have a special glamor for me, and getting to watch the incredible Amy Goodman and Juan González host an hour of the War and Peace Report was a true privilege. Almost even more exciting was sneaking back into the production room and have the friendly staff give us a rundown of the equipment being used. Also, it was just plain fun to toss around terms like “syndicated” and “board op-ing” and know everyone understood my broadcast terms.

Q & A session with the archivist and managing editor

Q & A session with the archivist and managing editor

At the close of the news hour two Democracy Now! interns gave us a tour of the office, and nearly everyone stopped working to chat with us and cheerfully answer our million questions. I learned an immense amount about the work of archivists, translators and producers, so it was no surprise to realize we’d spent almost four hours total on the tour.

Heading back on the subway to the conference one of the folks who was on the tour mentioned that the ProPublica tour still had spaces open. So at 2:00 I showed up in the lobby, smiling hopefully and sweet-talking my way into the tour group. Since I hadn’t signed up, I knew I was running a risk at being turned away by security once I reached the ProPublica office. But $.5.00 of subway fare was worth the risk, and I blithely “borrowed” the name of a student who hadn’t shown up when the security guard asked for my name. Luckily, we didn’t have to produce ID, and that’s how I snuck into the office of ProPublica – an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism.

ProPublica Tour

ProPublica Tour

Minhee Cho, the communications officer quickly summarized ProPublica’s mission, and then let us ask her questions about the details of how the organization works. She was remarkable frank, talking about the trials investigative journalists face, shared funny stories and moments of triumph. We peppered her with questions, seeking to understand how ProPublica was changing the landscape of investigative journalism.

Investigative journalism = digger through document

Investigative journalism = digging through documents

Eventually we ran out of things to ask, and she led us about the office, introducing us to journalists and mentioning the fascinating work they were doing. We didn’t have much time to chat with the reporters, and many of them were occupied pouring over documents or speaking with sources. Yet seeing them hard at work, bring hidden truths to light, was a very inspiring end to an educational and enlightening day.

Good journalism is readable journalism.

It can be passionate, descriptive and full of facts – but first it has to read clean and clear. A brilliant investigative article is useless if readers can’t make sense of it. A wordy food review drenched in detail won’t make anyone’s mouth water. And forget about covering a scientific breakthrough if you’re tangled in academic terms.

The ability to write about complex topics simply is an art, one that was respected by many of the presenters at CMA. It was fascinating to hear journalists and professors give their input on how to craft a quality article.

Food reviews sound like a niche form of journalism, but the skill of developing rich descriptions without sliding into purple prose is transcends the restaurant beat. If you can master writing about food, scaling back to write news stories that nail the clever details will be easy.

Writing about food with Holly Johnson

Writing about food with Holly Johnson

Holly Johnson talked about finding that sweet spot between using stock descriptions and confusing metaphors. The trick to writing about food is truly living the experience and figuring out how to articulate that experience. Translate more than flavor and texture – what did it feel like to bite into that sandwich? What colors, sensations or emotions did that kombucha tea evoke?

Food reviews are more than just opinions. They aren’t ads or poetry. Their goal is to clearly express what it was like to eat or drink something. Even if it’s something you’ve tried before, with eat bite (or sip) imagine this is your first time tasting it.

Part of achieving that is using descriptions that mean something. Don’t just say “decadent desserts.” What does “decadent” make you feel or taste? Nothing. It’s an empty word that slows down your writing. Use instead words with texture, motion, or have a strong sense of place. Lean on your nouns and verbs and go easy on adjectives and adverbs. Verbs keep writing in the present while adjectives can bog writing down.

New York Desserts

New York Desserts

Another technique is using metaphors. Figurative language can share culinary experiences with word pictures. You can almost taste this drink: “Sour cranberry ripples across the tongue and breaks at the back of your throat like a scratchy wave.” I’d never want to try an éclair described like this: “Gluey cream sags between cobweb-thin layers, like a fat lady in stringy bathing suit.”

Quick, clever metaphors that tap into universal experience are invaluable. But don’t sacrifice being precise over being witty.

-Nastacia Voisin

            A recent debate among the camera community is whether or not the mirror-less camera will be able to compete with the quality of a DSLR camera. Now there was no shortage of camera diversity, from film, top of the line DSLRs, point and shoot, mirror-less, and everything in between. However during the session Paul gave he didn’t stress using one over the other, in fact there was an emphasis on using both in a working camera set. Mirror-less cameras such a a Leica, Fujifilm, Nikon V1, or many of the others on the market have enormous benefits to a photographer.

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  • First and most important to a college kid who is limited by funds, the price. A mirror-less camera and its lenses are remarkably cheaper than its DSLR counterparts.
  • Another great feature is hoe simple to use it is, a DSLR has generally settings to help you manipulate the picture to get everything you want. A mirror-less camera will have most of these settings as well but on the surface it is extremely easy to use and great also for beginning photographers.
  • Second, it is incredibly more compact, its an easy grab and go camera to store in your backpack or purse if you are going to an event or you could have it in there just to catch something interesting as it happens.
  • Subtle. A smaller less conspicuous camera like a Nikon V1 is likely not to draw as much attention in a crowd as a bulky DSLR and could help avoid those awkward shots of people staring at you as you use a huge DSLR.

However while the Mirror-less camera is breaking berries in terms of picture quality and frequency of use.

  • The autofocus on a mirrored camera is faster at getting adjusted and generally better than a mirror-less, but mirror-less cameras auto focus feature had made great strides.
  • The lenses are limited for Mirrorless cameras and that can sometimes limit what and how you will shoot

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However there is one great advantage to having a mirror-less camera, a Leica for instance makes virtually no  noise compared to a bulky DSLR. Recently many reporters and photographers have started using mirror-less in press conferences or plays for instance so it will attract less attention and be far less distracting. 

-Parker Shoaff

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Oh hey, New York City.

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: 

Quotables

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“Nobody ever wanted to hire me. I have never been asked to work anywhere. It has been a relentless pounding on the citadel.”
“There aren’t many professions where you can do so much good so quickly. But you can also do a great deal of harm.”
“Reporters don’t make mistakes, editors do.”
– Scott Pelley, CBS new’s Chief Anchor and regular fixture on 60 Minutes. Also, he spoke in 140-charater gems. So much tweeting going on during that talk.


“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 

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“One of the best ways you can create awareness around your publication is to make your reporters stars on Twitter… Become so active on twitter that readers expect you to be pushing the news there constantly.”
- Amanda Wills, associate editor of Mashable (who, coincidentally, was a college EIC only 5 years ago)

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. 
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  • 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

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Michael Skolnik

Passionate. Driven. Humble. These are the three words I would use to describe Saturday’s keynote speaker Michael Skolnik, a contributor to the website globalgrind.com.

Skolnik’s tireless commitment to making positive change in the world is inspiring and refreshing. Although he does not consider himself a reporter and has no formal journalism training or schooling, Skolnik writes moving stories on the lives of black kids and teenagers that have been killed, giving voice to the voiceless and recognition to the families of the deceased.

With the motto of: “Together, we can cure violence. One young person at a time”, Skolnik and his fellow staff have written over 750 articles on the deaths of black youths. In his battle for equality in recognition of suffering, Skolnik was responsible for bringing light and national attention to the death of Trayvon Martin.

Skolnik believes in the untraditional idea of reporting factual news with opinion. He also doesn’t plan on stopping in his quest of storytelling. His dedication to his cause was absolutely amazing. Additionally, Skolnik is incredibly humble about his successful career in media.

What impressed me the most about Skolnik was his ability to engage the audience. He transitioned from serious topics to humorous antidotes seamlessly and spoke with such genuine pain and perspective. I couldn’t tear my eyes or ears away.

Although my trip to New York and the CMANYC2014 conference was filled with amazing experiences and lessons, Skolnik’s keynote speech affected me the most and is something I know I will continue to look back on for years. His commitment to advocating for the underrepresented and love of storytelling struck a major chord with me and reminded me why I fell in love with journalism in the first place.

-Emily Neelon, Staff Reporter

Powered by three cups of coffee and a single morning muffin, I took on NYC. My excitement about how thin I was going to become if I could stick with this minimalist eating schedule was only outdone by two things: my geek out over reporting/journalism and all the attractive men (and women!) in beautiful clothing. Also, trolling #CMANYC14. 

In an effort to be concise, something that is allegedly really valuable (learning so much already!), I am just going to provide a few of my takeaways from each session I attended. This way I can focus the majority of my attention on going behind the scenes of CNN.
(spoiler alert: IT WAS AMAZING)

Digital Leadership led by Mandy Jenkins from Digital First Media
-TAKE RISKS
-The work outside of work is sometimes more valuable than your actual work
-RISKS RISKS RISKS
-Don’t just pocket names and rub elbows, really invest in relationships.
-Lead from where you are and lead things, lead ideas, before you try leading people
-Be nimble, digital makes collaboration possible
-Be an Intrepreneur. Build something incredible from where you are right then.
-Did I mention take risks?
-Digital makes all the things possible. Don’t limit yourself. Don’t limit your abilities.
-Tell other people to take risks.

Science of Video: Basics & Beyond by Herbert (fantastic name) Dunmore from LMU
-Always consider the human eye versus your camera, the differences and similarities.
-Color models for print versus digital are different. Always remember that when editing.
-Shoot as many angles and zooms as possible; more is always better.
-4K is the future of video- Herb (nicknames because BFF) talked a lot about this. I am still a little shaky on what the actual compression variance is but I do understand that this is the direction video is moving.
-Add these words to your repertoire: pan, tilt, dolly, trucking, boom, you’re a videographer

Keynote: Scott Pelley CBS/60 minutes
Scott Pelley has a voice that booms from the heavens and he wears a suit better than Jon Hamm, a feat I thought improbable.  Arguably Scott is one of the most famous and well-known reporters of today and his speech reflected that. Besides talking in twitter sound bytes (a next level speech delivery I will from here forth strive towards) his delivery was passionate and to the point. 
Image Scott Pelley Wisdom in concise perfectly tweet sized snippets:
“Democracy cannot occur without free press. When journalism goes to hell the country follows suit.”
“Distribution is revolutionary, content and storytelling will never alter.”
“You have a responsibility to your country and to your peers to get it right, to do great journalism. Don’t be involved in closing minds.”
“We are not in the business of stopping arguments, we are about starting them”
“I do not care what your political affiliation is. I literally do not care. Give them all hell.”

and finally…this excellent statement about the difficulties of dressing for young people:
“young people…should I wear a tie? A bow tie? No tie at all? NO. I’m going to wear a damn tie, it’s fine.”

A New Kind of Fourth Estate by Frank Muraca & Hau Chu from George Mason U
Arguably the most fascinating session I attended on Thursday and led by two of my peers that’s accomplishments are seriously awesome.  To acquire a more well rounded understanding of the convergence of digital and print media that Frank and Hau created read here: http://www.gmufourthestate.com/content/how-do-we-save-news-mason-part-1
The points I took away from the session (and during the after session chat I had with Frank) were:
-The act of convergence is overwhelming, but worth it. Utilize tools like SEO and Google analytics to create more while monitoring traffic.
-Online—day-to-day news keep it short and quick.
-Print—features, investigative reporting, human interest. Then when posted online embed media (photos + video) exclusives to create a more dynamic piece
-There is still a need for a physical presence of papers on campus. It’s symbolic of ideas and stature. Never forget that despite the fleeting romance of going all digital. (suck it Newsweek).
-Love it or hate it, Buzzfeed has high traffic. Utilize their platform to break down stories or to create student interest and flow to your site.

Data Driven Journalism by a fantastically geeky data nerd wearing a hoodie that may have been named Dave from Chartbeat.
I tragically did not write this guy’s name down and have temporarily misplaced his business card, regardless his session was fascinating. He began by saying, “I work at Chartbeat, we have custom hoodies, so obviously we are a start up.”
 Say no more Dave(?) you have my full attention.
-There is a difference between page views and actual reading time. Utilize this data to control when you publish online and how to keep readers engaged and returning.
-You want recirculation. Front door traffic versus side door traffic is imperative to understanding your site.  Front door traffic is people that come to you to check the news out of loyalty. Side door traffic is from social media clicks, typically they are fleeting audiences with different degrees of loyalty.
-Put your links at the top and embed links in your articles. People do and will click on them.

Revolving Doors at CNN
It was chilly but I was trying to look chic. As I learned quickly, not just any Joe Briefcase (although every person there had a briefcase and some may have been named Joe) was allowed to enter the unbelievably secure revolving door that is the entrance to CNN so you better look fantastic as you are handed your “temporary (emphasis on temporary) visitor pass”.  Tragically, photos were not allowed for reasons that were never given and amusingly no one asked, despite every person in our intimate tour group (9 people in total) being journalists.
CNN is surreal.  Not only did I acquire an over stimulation headache from the 1,000,005 screens in that building (Note: this is an estimate) but I got to sit with incredibly high up CNN execs talk news and broadcast journalism.
My ‘pinch me’ moment occurred while staring out the wall of windows on Central Park from the primary CNN newsroom.  The newsroom exec was describing the atmosphere during a breaking news moment, sweat/yelling/ringing phones, and I got goose bumps.  In Manhattan, covering breaking news stories and drinking buckets of coffee, multitasking as not an asset but a necessity. This is the kind of intense environment my soul yearns for.
Also, you have to love a place that gives out free water containers. (Go green!) AND houses Anderson Cooper.
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-Cassie Sheridan, Reporter at Thin. 

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