Beacon reporter and 2014 graduate Olivia-Alsept Ellis has won First Place for General News Reporting in the regional Mark of Excellence Awards sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) for her story, “Cyber-confessions become Cyberbullying.”



Olivia received her award May 3 at the SPJ regional journalism conference at the University of Oregon Turnbull Center in downtown Portland.  She competed against other student journalists from Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska in colleges and universities with fewer than 10,000 undergraduates. Olivia now advances to the national SPJ competition, whose winners will be announced at the “Excellence in Journalism” convention Sept. 4 – 6 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Olivia Alsept-Ellis with her First Place award for General News Reporting. The competition was among student newspapers in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska.

Olivia Alsept-Ellis with her First Place award for General News Reporting. The competition was among student newspapers in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska.

The Beacon also was a Mark of Excellence finalist for Best All-Around Non-daily Student Newspaper in the region. Beacon sports reporter Peter Gallagher was a regional finalist for Sports Writing with his profile of UP basketball coach, Eric Reveno.


Beacon editor-in-chief Kelsey Thomas, reporter Nastacia Voisin and reporter Olivia Alsept-Ellis attended the May 3 regional SPJ conference, where The Beacon won three awards.

Beacon editor-in-chief Kelsey Thomas, reporter Nastacia Voisin and reporter Olivia Alsept-Ellis attended the May 3 regional SPJ conference, where The Beacon won three awards. Student newspapers from five states competed: Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska.

Not everyone was able to make it for this group shot outside St. Mary's, but we were thinking of them.

Not everyone was able to make it for this group shot outside St. Mary’s, but we were thinking of them.

At the end of each academic year, Beacon editors pass on their wisdom (and gag gifts) to their successors. Here are some photos from our final party.

-Nancy Copic









DSC02482 DSC02470



It’s a wrap!



A few Beacon staffers + adviser Nancy Copic following the end-of-the-year Student Activities Awards dinner. Sarah Hansell won the Spectacular Service Award; Cassie Sheridan was Rookie of they Year, and Shellie Adams won the MVP Award.

The Beacon has won three regional Mark of Excellence awards from the Society of Professional Journalists:

Best All-Around Non-daily Student Newspaper (colleges under 9,999 enrollment)
(Beacon Staff)

General News Reporting:
“Cyber confessions become cyberbullying”
Reporter: Olivia Alsept-Ellis


Best Sports Writing
“Selfless, tough, compassionate”
Reporter: Peter Gallagher

The contest was open to all college media in SPJ Region 10 (Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Alaska). We’ll find out if we won First, Second or Third Place in these categories at the regional SPJ conference May 3 in the University of Oregon Turnbull Center in Portland. First Place award-winners proceed to the national SPJ Mark of Excellence Awards.

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.


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.


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