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: 



“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 


“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. 
  •  ImageImage
  • 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


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
-The work outside of work is sometimes more valuable than your actual work
-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.
-Cassie Sheridan, Reporter at Thin. 

This morning when I walked out of our hotel in Times Square I felt like I belonged in New York. I was dodging tourists gawking at the street vendors and taxis driving haphazardly down the street but I remembered I’m actually a true North Westerner when I walked into Starbucks and held the door open for someone who looked thoroughly confused at my kindness. 

It’s not my first time in New York but every time I come I am amazed at the beauty. Nothing beats Central Park or the Empire State Building, not to mention the ability being in the city gives me to reference Gossip Girl as much as possible. Walking around Little Italy and China Town can cause some people huge anxiety with all the crowds and foreign languages but I love people watching and the over-stimulation. As an Italian I also live for great pasta, something Little Italy is famous for. This brought me to two amazing dinners in a row and tested my extremely limited Italian, but was well worth it.


The Empire State Building lit up the skyline with the bright red it donned Wednesday night.

Day 2 of the CMA Conference started with a very spirited Jeff Pearlman who was leading a session about Profiling Athletes but ended up being the best session I attended. Jeff spoke about how to find the best way into the industry, how to get deep into a story and into athlete’s minds. His best advice? Shut up and listen to people. There’s no better way to hear what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.


Jeff Pearlman tells his stories of prostitute stakeouts and interviewing back up catchers in place of Derek Jeter.

The second best session fed the business student in me. Katie Schlientz, my new inspiration since she is a self-starting one-woman marketing team. She talked all about how to get your publication out to your readers online. It’s all about getting readers to participate in a conversation with what’s being written. Her ideas on how to boost ad revenue would probably put the majority of English majors that make the Beacon as great as it is, to sleep. I was enthralled as she explained how to use Google Analytics and improve our SEO (search engine optimization) along with our social media campaign. I wanted to take over her life, but take the food and fashion blogs and turn them into sports ones.


Katie Schlientz explains her marketing strategies and gives tips on how to improve our online presence.

-Katie Dunn, Sports Editor

I love music. Whether I’m swaying along with the crowd at a Mumford and Sons concert or jumping up and down in the mosh pit at a G-Eazy show, seeing live music is an experience like no other. In Thursday’s session on music journalism, Toni Albertson explained how I could combine my love of music with my passion for writing and reporting in the session “Rock On…line! How to Become a Music Journalist”.


Rapper G-Eazy at his March 9th show at the Roseland Theater in Portland, Oregon.

Albertson has had a long and successful media career covering and marketing music. Whether she was editing and publishing her own music magazines, reporting on musicians and shows, or acting as a publicist for various artists, she has met anyone and everyone in the industry.

Albertson walked us through her experiences in the various positions she has held and explained how the music industry and culture has evolved from the hairspray using and leather loving rock bands of the eighties, to the rough and tough grunge bands of the nineties, and into the frosted tipped boy bands and pop stars of the early 2000s. The launch of MTV and the Internet have completely changed the way both artists and fans approach and listen to music, moving the industry’s focus from the quality of the sound and the popularity of concerts to the image of the stars and the rise of music videos.

To be a successful music journalist in today’s world, Albertson offered up many helpful tips. She believes it is essential to start a blog and brand yourself and emphasized the importance of finding a topic you like and covering “the shit out of it”. Additionally, aspiring music journalists need to become musical historians and know everything there is to know about all types of music. It’s important to be careful about never blowing somebody off, keeping up a professional façade even if you’re secretly fangirling, and absolutely never affecting a person’s ability to make money in the industry

Is it really that easy to become a music journalist? All I have to do is create a blog and talk about my favorite musicians? From her experience in the field, Albertson knows it’s not quite that simple. To make your blog stand out from the rest, you need to stick out from the crowd and break your own news stories. She suggests utilizing your reporting skills and interviewing people for your articles, staying before, during, and after events to capture every detail, and becoming multimedia savvy. Writing positions at music publications like Rolling Stones are few and far between, but any budding journalist can work towards creating a noteworthy blog.

Albertson’s session was full of wisdom that I will be able to use to jumpstart my music journalism career. Look out Portland musicians, I’m coming for you!

Views of NYC from Central Park

Views of NYC from Central Park.

Radio City in Times Square

Radio City in Times Square.

The Beacon Staff takes New York City #Wherehasyourbeaconbeen?

The Beacon Staff takes New York City #Wheresyourbeaconbeen?

-Emily Neelon, Staff Reporter

Lecture Given By Jack Zibluk of Southeast Missouri State University.

The most important and probably the most helpful part of Mr. Zibluks lecture during a frigid New York Afternoon was his simple ABCE steps (a video equivalent to the inverted pyramid as he referred to it) to help you create an effective video narrative.

  • A for action or your establishing shot, so setting a scene, who is going to be the main character of the story, what will she/he do.
  • B for background, who are they, do you have any shots of them setting up? Before an event? Where they came from? What they did before? A look into the history of the story you are covering in order to paint a more holistic picture of what is to come.
  • C for climax, your reaction to the action, the high point of the video, the turning point. He gave an example of a basketball game and how it’s the game winning basket but the person you take the picture of may not be the one shooting. “All baskets look alike and all armpits look alike, trust me, so none of those shots”. Instead he called attention to the winning teams reaction from the bench, their facial expressions, the fans reaction and expressions to their team winning or losing the game. So the climax of the story could include a picture of the actual event taking place but it should be about the reactions to the event.
  • E for end, wrap it up. Don’t linger to long on the climax. In the videos shown the climax was around ¾ the way through the video. Also a point that was stressed was the length of the video, there should be no need to create one longer than 3 minutes and the sweet spot for a video is 2-3 minutes. Now this isn’t true for all and granted you can play with the time depending on what you need but 9 out of 10 times it will fall into that 2-3 minute category.


Now don’t get flustered if you’re running the past projects you’ve worked on through your head and they don’t necessarily match up with this format. He said at one point In his presentation the if they didn’t follow this you didn’t have a good narrative, but all I took that to mean is you didn’t approach the story with the right angle or perhaps you’re not meant to tell a narrative about that particular topic. But I know at that point in the presentation everyone held there breath as they recalled previous projects they worked on and wondered if they held up to this new criteria, I know I was certainly wondering.


By: Parker Shoaff

This is the first time I’ve been to New York City, so I’m still a bit dazed by it all. Every time I step outside into the car horns and walls of light, the smells of street food and exhaust, executives in tailored suits and construction crews in knit caps, I just kind of dissolve into it all. It’s all imposing and all strange. You know a place is strange when you can walk a couple of blocks and see twelve-storey LCD women walking toward you to advertise clothes.


A view of 5th Avenue skyscrapers from Central Park

Last night, Nancy (our adviser) took a few of us who had never been to New York to see some of the landmarks in Midtown – Times Square, Rockefeller Center, those places you see in movies. This evening, a few of the others staffers and I walked to Central Park and down 5th Avenue for some of the tradition and glitz of the city.


Radio City Music Hall in Rockefeller Center

Since I experience culture (and life in general) through food, I’ve been trying to eat lots of quintessential New York dishes. For dinner, I couldn’t decide between a big greasy slice of New York pizza and a heaping plate of chicken and rice the famous Halal Guys food cart. So I ate both of them.

Of course, the college media conference has also been wonderful. In one session on headline writing, Dan Sweeney from Florida Atlantic University emphasized taking the medium into account while writing headlines. A clickbait-ish, Upworthy-type headline isn’t appropriate for a newspaper, but it might be appropriate as an alternate headline in a tweet or Facebook post. David Simpson, the student media adviser at Georgia Southern University, gave a talk on how to take on tough interviews. He emphasized the importance of coming into interviews with confidence but also with humility.

Probably my favorite session today was from Ron Johnson at Indiana University on quick, easy design improvements. While he had plenty of ideas, I think one that I’ll try to keep in mind for the rest of the year is the importance of white space. I tend not to have much white space in my Opinions pages, opting instead to fill the space with words and big graphics. But Johnson said that even with very content-focused pages like the Opinions section, white space can focus the design by adding breathing room.

Today’s keynote speaker was Scott Pelley of CBS News and 60 Minutes. He emphasized that not only does democracy depend on free press, but also on high-quality journalism. 

“When the quality of journalism goes to hell,” he said, “the county will follow.”


Scott Pelley of NBC News and 60 Minutes gives a speech on journalists’ duty to stay true to traditional media ethics in order to preserve freedom in the U.S.

Pelley also made the claim that the journalism world isn’t really changing as much as everyone says it is. He said that as much as the distribution and style of journalism might have changed over the past decade, the principles of good journalism remain the same – and will remain the same forever. 

“Distribution: revolutionary. Content: same old stuff, folks,” Pelley said.


–Philip Ellefson, opinions editor


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