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Editor-in-Chief Gabi DiPaulo
News and Managing Editor Austin De Dios


Multimedia Editor Brennan Crowder
Living Editor Havi Stewart

Opinion Editor/ Sr. Photographer Jennifer Ng
Sports Editor William Seekamp
Copy Editor/Sr. Reporter Carlos Fuentes
Community Engagement Editor Ally Weberg

Editor-in-Chief Claire Desmarais “passing” the crown to her successor Gabi DiPaulo

Gabi DiPaulo, EIC for 2020 – 2021

A toast, Zoom-style!

The first known direct impact of COVID-19 on the University of Portland hit in late February, when the deadly virus derailed the E-Scholars spring break trip to South Korea and Japan.

The Beacon staff has been hard at work ever since, covering what is now a worldwide pandemic, and has not let up, even though the campus is effectively shut down and classes are online.

All-staff story pitch meetings and the weekly Editorial Board meetings have continued almost seamlessly on Zoom.

Interviews are over the phone, video conference or via email. The editing process, which has been a collaborative online process for years on Google Docs, has also continued with little disruption. The weekly newsletter continues, and is packed with UP-centric coverage related to Covid-19. Likewise, Beacon social media channels continue to provide daily updates.

Opinion editor Dora Totoian did a crowdsourcing project, asking students and faculty for feedback on how online classes were going.

Beacon Instagram
Claire Desmarais leads a Beacon staff meeting on Zoom.

Editor-in-Chief Claire Desmarais created a special landing page on The Beacon website for all Beacon Covid-19 coverage, as well as a private Facebook group for UP students called “Pilots Navigating the New Normal.”

News and Managing Editor Maddie Pfeifer has worked tirelessly leading the ongoing breaking coverage.

Photo illustration by Beacon photographer Jennifer Ng

The biggest challenge has been photography, since everyone is away from campus and scattered. Yet Beacon photographers have been creative with photo illustrations and file photos, and have solicited photo submissions from readers and other sources.

Click on the image above to view a powerful group photo essay and personal narratives about quarantine by Beacon photographers and videographers.

Our video producer, Taylor Ursulum, who lives in Hawaii, produced this video on quarantine grocery shopping.

Claire was recently quoted in a Portland State University Vanguard article about how student newspapers are rising to the occasion:

Claire Desmarais, editor in chief of The Beacon, stated, “a large part of our reporting and how we obtain information comes from having established relationships with club leaders, faculty/staff, students and the administration. We use social media and word-of-mouth to find pieces of information, and then go on to confirm that information with sources on the record.” 

Below is a sampling of screenshots of some of the coverage so far.

Students, faculty and staff continue to contribute to The Beacon opinions section, despite the campus shutdown.
Beacon Facebook post
Twitter
Reporter Austin De Dios wrote this important story and many other Covid-related articles.
This piece about students on Studies Abroad scrambling to get home was Dora Totoian’s final Beacon article. Dora joined The Beacon as a freshman four years ago. She graduates May 3

UP’s (virtual) graduation on May 3 will mark the official end of Beacon publishing for this academic year. But, after interviewing applicants on Zoom, incoming Editor-in-Chief Gabi DiPaulo has already hired the 2020-21 Beacon staff. Here’s hoping for a healthy, safe and calmer fall semester.

-Nancy Copic, Ass’t Director for Student Media & adviser to The Beacon

Hello, this is Fiona. I am one of the news reporters who went to New York for the College Media Association 2020 conference in Times Square. Though some of the events of the conference itself were canceled, I still got a lot out of it that I can take back home and apply to my work at the Beacon.

Though I have spent a lot of time in New York with my family, I learned to look at the city with a whole new eye. I saw how important it is for journalism and learned to appreciate how much information comes and goes from the city. We walked past many important sites for journalism including CNN, Fox News, ABC, NBC and CBS. These are things you see on TV and in newspapers, and it felt very cool to be learning about journalism in the center of it all.

On the second day, we were lucky enough to meet with a UP and Beacon alum at CNN Clare Duffy, where she writes for their business and tech section. I really appreciated meeting with Clare, she had an incredible drive and demeanor. She worked extremely hard to get where she is today, at CNN. It gave me motivation for networking and to continue writing more and more stories.

Clare Duffy (UP ’17 and former Beacon Managing Editor) now works at CNN.

We were also able to meet with another UP and Beacon alum, Malika Andrews, who works for ESPN now. The day before we met with her, she had broken on Sports Center that the NBA was suspending all play because of the corona virus. Right after she met with us, she had to leave to record another interview for Sports Center. I learned from Malika how important it is to stay connected with all of your contacts in journalism. Ideally, if they feel comfortable with you, they will give you more information.

Malika Andrews, who covers the NBA for ESPN, was the 2016-17 Beacon Editor-in-Chief.
Malika with our adviser, Nancy Copic, who was Malika’s adviser during her years at The Beacon.

At the conference, my favorite session was from two professors at the University of Florida who are making a podcast about information deserts. Since I have made podcasts with the Beacon, it was really interesting listening to their process and getting tips and tricks. They stressed how important it is to have a clean sound with no background noises so that listeners stay tuned-in for the whole podcast. Most notably, from their presentation, they talked about the access of public records online and how that can give reporters the upper-hand. I found this really interesting, and a helpful tool that I could use if I was not getting enough information from my sources.

I also really enjoyed another session on diversity and inclusion. A student from a different school asked a question about how to make a diverse paper without a diverse student population. The panel answered to go out into the community and get more from them to make it diverse, and to just cover the minority populations as much as possible. I thought this applied very well to UP and the Beacon, and was a great reminder that we should always be mindful of inclusivity.

I really enjoyed my time in New York with the Beacon, despite a few road blocks. I am thankful we got this opportunity, and I hope to return again soon!

Fiona O’Brien

Hello, blogosphere,

I am sure that, in spite of the commotion happening in and around The Bluff, you have been rapidly refreshing the Beacon staff blog with bated breath, waiting for me to share my synthesized wisdom that I accumulated from my experiences this past week in New York!

My fellow Beaconites and I woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed Thursday morning, ready to take on our first day of the College Media Association (CMA). My favorite sessions from Thursday were about how to cover traumatic events and about digital diversity.

I strolled into my first session about trauma journalism at the wee hour of 8:00 am (5:00 am in Portland, but who’s counting?). The session was about how to cover traumatic events in a respectful and ethical manner. Three of my biggest takeaways from this session were:
– Give those experiencing trauma control over the interview. Allow them to go on unrelated tangents and monologues, don’t pigeon hole them to directly answering the questions you asked.
– Verify everything. Wrong reporting is terrible to those that are suffering.
– Be ethical and don’t judge.

Another memorable session I went to Thursday was a Q and A about digital diversity and seeing yourself in the content you produce. The biggest thing I gained from this session was that as journalists we should embrace vulnerability in our writing.


I woke up less bright-eyed and bushy-tailed the subsequent day, in fact, to put it in positive language, I woke up sluggish and with the crust in my eyes obstructing my vision. Did I let my physical well being, or lack thereof, stop me though? Of course not!

My favorite seminars from Friday were given by the keynote speaker Beth Karas and from Ben Fischer from the Sports Business Journal.

Karas’s keynote was about her experience as a former attorney that transitioned to a legal-reporter. The main transferable piece of knowledge that I took away from her presentation was that when covering delicate matters you have to be compassionate and treat every case as if it is the biggest thing happening.


I found this seminar personally interesting because I only have a vague inclination of where I want my life to go post-college and, given my majors, I believe that law school is an incredibly viable and likely possibility. Somewhat paradoxically, however, I do not have much interest, as of now, in becoming an attorney, so to see another potential career path that I could walk down with a law degree was valuable for me.

The seminar offered by Fischer was also intriguing to me, in large part because I have a passion for the behind the scenes of sports, but also because I will be the Sports Editor next year and looking at sports through a more abstract lens is something that I think would be interesting to incorporate into the sports section next year.

Fischer’s talk consisted less of advice for aspiring journalists and more about current events and how sports are being affected by Covid-19, specifically how insurance companies will be affected by the postponement and cancelation of major sporting events.

I found Fischer’s talk valuable primarily because it reassured me that as a professional journalist you don’t need to just do features, news, sports, or some other broad, nondescript category of journalism, you can create a carve out a niche that is more tailored to your interests and make a living doing it.

The highlight of my time in New York, however, was being able to meet up with Beacon alums and living legends Clare Duffy and Malika Andrews! Clare currently works at CNN and Malika at ESPN.

Clare and Malika are the benchmarks for excellence that we try to live up to and what all Beaconites aspire to be, so having the ability to listen to them talk and pick their brains, as well as observe and experience first-hand how their minds work and how they carry themselves was, without hyperbole, surreal and enlightening.

With Beacon alum Clare Duffy outside CNN



As I am currently writing this I am trapped 20,000 feet in the air with nothing to do but reflect on my week in NYC (I, somewhat, unfortunately, forgot to download any Netflix shows to pass the time).

The most valuable thing I gained from this trip was hearing time and time about the importance of networking. Speaker after speaker as well as Clare, Malika and Rachael stressed the importance of cultivating a robust network and how it is critical to being successful in any field.

Being afforded the opportunity to go to New York and to participate in the CMA was incredibly valuable and through listening to Clare and Malika as well as speakers at the CMA I believe that I have a clearer vision of the areas that I need to improve on as a reporter.

This is an experience I am not soon to forget!

William Seekamp

Beacon adviser Nancy Copic (right) with UP/Beacon alum (2018) Rachel Ramirez, who writes for Grist and chatted with our group about her career path. Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, elbow-touch greetings replaced handshakes and hugs.

Our experience at the College Media Association Conference was definitely an interesting one. A few days after flying coast-to-coast for the conference, we were informed that our classes back at UP were going fully online, and that much of the conference would be going home. In New York, things were particularly hectic as tourists vacated the streets and a state of national emergency was declared. Although unexpected, I think that the alarm and uncertainty surrounding this conference was a lesson in journalistic experience, media literacy and the ability to calmly and quickly process information.

One session that I attended had been cobbled together that morning by a day journalist who had been reporting on COVID-19 in the Boston/NYC area. One of the strongest take-aways was that readers should not be unduly scared or worried by coverage of an outbreak. He cautioned us to stick to just the facts, and when using editorial/opinion based pieces, to only explain how your coverage has been influenced. He told us to continue working with human interest, writing stories about people and communities, not just numbers. A session like this was very helpful to me, as for the entirety of the conference I couldn’t help but to stress-refresh Twitter and Apple News. So much misinformation and panic has been swirling around the COVID-19 outbreak that it was refreshing to hear about it from a journalistic point of view.

I also attended a panel by journalists from LA’s city college, entitled “Gender Awareness & Inclusive Language.” As I consider next year’s journey as editor-in-chief, making our newsroom as inclusive as possible is constantly at the forefront of my mind. At The Beacon, we advise asking sources for their pronouns, but I’m aware that it doesn’t always, or even often happen. Next year, I want this practice to be as standard as asking for the spelling of their name. I also want to make sure that during our Beacon boot camp and orientation, both new and returning staffers state their pronouns while introducing themselves. One focus of this panel was that normalizing the practice of vocalizing pronouns creates a culture in which staffers feel more comfortable expressing themselves and even correcting somebody who accidentally misgenders them.

Likely my favorite session was called Communicating Like a Leader, a very interactive session in which student journalists from across the country practiced communicating about issues within their newsrooms. This was anywhere from overpowering advisors to staffers who disrespected the newsroom space by using it for personal reasons. The session leader helped us practice an “assertive communication” style, which was described by the mantra: I can’t control others, but I can control myself. This leadership style is respectful, clear and competent. This particularly hit home for me as I will be leading next year’s staff. I know that I will naturally stumble into my leadership style, but this session really helped me visualize what I want for myself and my staffers.

Another thing that helped me visualize next year, and beyond, was meeting up with some Beacon alumni who have found their homes in New York. Every former staffer we met with was so informative and so inspiring – it made us starstruck to think that this group had been in our spots just a few years ago.

This definitely was not how I pictured the conference, or my first trip to New York City, going. At the end of the day though, this was a lesson in life – sometimes, it just happens. Although you may have no control of the hailstorm around you, you can control the way you react. I’m glad that ultimately, our group decided to make the most of our time in NYC, and to learn as much as we could even as panic ensued. Thank you to The Beacon and Nancy for making this experience possible!

-Gabi DiPaulo

Rachel Ramirez (center), a Beacon alum, graduated from UP in 2018. She writes for the environmental publication Grist, and has also been published in Rolling Stone, Vox and Mother Jones, among others.

CMA 2020

This conference was slightly derailed by the COVID-19. Due to the timing of this conference, many groups and speakers dropped out — resulting in many secessions getting canceled. However, this also means that we had more intimate class sizes and one on one interactions with speakers. Dispute all the craziness, I really enjoyed the trip and think it was a really valuable learning opportunity.

We got to meet with UP alum (’17) Malika Andrews (lower right) , who covers the NBA for ESPN. Malika was Beacon Editor-in-Chief in 2016-17

The part of the conference that I enjoyed the most was hearing from The Beacon alumni that we were lucky enough to meet. The past staffers as well as a few speakers mentioned the importance of reaching out to people/sources when you don’t need them. This will foster those relationships and make people feel more important. One of The Beacon alums specifically amazed me, she had such a powerful presence that radiates confidence and practically demanded respect. However, she said that she has not always been this confident and at the beginning she too was scared. Hearing this was really helpful to me to see how someone who seems to have all the confidence in the world wasn’t always like that. It’s inspiring to know that confidence can be grown and developed and gives me more hope for myself in the future.

Beacon alum Clare Duffy writes and reports for CNN Business.

One of the more interesting sessions I went to focused on the different communication styles and how to communicate like a leader. This was really helpful to me because I tend to be a very passive communicator, and this is something I have been avidly working on for a while. It was nice to be able to see the written benefits that can come with stating what you need from other people.  

I really had a great time and am really happy I had this experience. The sessions and meeting the alums were amazing, but I think my favorite part was getting to spend more time with my amazing fellow staffers and get to know everyone better.

  • Havi Stewart