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“Know the power of women in leadership.”

When I first learned about this conference, and started planning to go, I expected the learning to happen within the confines of the conference. I had no idea that I would spend the whole week learning, in the conference and throughout the whole grid that is Manhattan. 

One of the convention’s keynote speakers was Mara Schiavocampo of Good Morning America. Mara spoke on the importance of branding and networking, what its like to be a woman of color doing journalism in 2017, her experiences and she gave her advice. I was engaged throughout her entire talk, and the Q&A that followed, but I was most impressed by her point about personal branding. When pinpointing one’s own personal brand, when asking the question “What is my brand?”, she said “Be yourself,” and encouraged to be forthcoming, be authentic and be genuine. According to Schiavocampo, you can usually decipher someone’s brand by giving their social media accounts a quick glance. This was thought provoking for me, I wondered about my brand, and asked my fellow Beaconites what they perceived my brand to be not long after the session had ended. She gave her extensive knowledge of Beyonce as an example. When she spoke about finding a niche, she reminded us that “What you do most is what you’ll do best,” and encouraged us to find a balance between our genuine interests and our career goals.


My notes from Mara Schiavocampo’s key note speech

My takeaway: Be yourself. Do it consistently and in a way you’re proud of.

One of my favorite sessions was led by Michael Koretzky, of the SPJ Board of Directors. He led a two session theory entitled “Editor-in-Grief” part one called “Rule with an iron fist, wear a velvet glove” and part two was called “10 secrets of very sexy editors.” Koretzky gave leaders tips, tricks and strategies for managing a staff and running a productive publication. Throughout all of this lessons, team work was emphasized. I think this is important in any group, but especially at The Beacon. On this trip, in our free time we had the opportunity to explore Manhattan as a team and really grow in our relationships and bond. We explored Times Square (twice), we ventured downtown to NEMO karaoke, we waited in line and saw a live taping of “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah”, we survived Blizzard Stella. I think one of the reasons we are so productive at The Beacon is because we really are a strong team.

Having a niche was emphasized almost as much as networking and branding were, throughout the conference. It was mentioned in Mara’s speech, in panel “Making it there” that featured The Beacon’s very own, Malika Andrews, and in other sessions. It also came up when I was having lunch with LGBT national reporter for Buzzfeed, Dominic Holden. Although I’m not sure whether or not I would like to make LGBT news my niche, it is his, so we talked about it. He discouraged me from limiting myself to only LGBT news, because he said that Buzzfeed is one of the few publications that prioritizes LGBT news enough to have a person be solely devoted to it’s coverage. He encouraged me to make LGBT news one of four or five beats that I am very knowledgable about, and to go from there.


-Olivia Sanchez-

The Beacon staff in New York Times Square

This was not my first time to New York but after this experience I realized how much I love the city.  Upon arrival and going out the first night with the Beacon staff members and seeing Times Square, I saw once again the magical and breathtaking city. Throughout the trip, I realized how much I love the city, and someday I may want to live there.

Keep doing what you love

Mara Schiavavocampo a keynote speaker talks about the power of networking

One thing I consistently heard while asking speakers how did they get to the job now, was that they continued to keep doing what they loved. They took interesting job paths to get where they are now.  The common theme was to keep doing what you love and want to do like reporting because the more experience you have and people you know, the more opportunities you get. The key is to not give up and to keep networkin. You never know who might tell you about an amazing job offer.

Learn from those you work with

Malika Andrews talks about The Beacon going all digital

I knew I worked for an incredible group of people working for the Beacon before this trip. This trip helped to affirm that though and I realized how lucky I am. The Beacon led one session about going entirely digital. In this session, I could see how The Beacon is on the cutting edge of college news as a completely digital news source and how it allows The Beacon to do more digitally and cover breaking news in a whole new way. In another session entitled “Making It There (New York, New York),”  Malika Andrews, The Beacon’s editor-in-chief, spoke about her Beacon experience and other experiences that led her to get a fellowship with the New York Times. Getting with Malika and everyone on The Beacon staff is great and in these few months left with the seniors I will try to learn as much as I can from them. -Jeffrey Braccia, Beacon photographer

Malika Andrews talks about her experience to getting a fellowship with The New York Times


Meeting Who I want to be when I grow up

Todd Maisel

One of my favorite sessions was “Surviving Photojournalism – Becoming a Swiss Army Knife of Media.” It was here that I met Todd Maisel or who I want to be when I grow up. He is an incredible photojournalist for New York Daily News. He showed photos he took during the events of 9/11  and while showing these photos he told stories of how he saved people and continued shooting photos. In doing this, he emphasized the importance of capturing photos but also paying attention to surroundings and how he could not just stand and take photos but also had to help people too. He then went on to show how switching between taking stills and video could have a powerful impact on a story, especially on a digital site.

Todd Maisel 9/11 photo


CBS News Tour with a starstruck moment

CBS News room

I got to tour CBS News. I got to see the CBS newsroom where the anchor reads the nightly news.  I then got to see the studio and producer’s offices of one of the most successful TV shows in history: 60 Minutes. I got to see where they produce the show and where they run through the tape and make edits to it before it is officially shown.  I also got to briefly see Bill Whitaker, who said hello and introduced himself to the tour group which was a bit of a starstruck moment.

me in front of the 60 Minutes main office

In these experiences and many others, I got to see what it is like to work for a big news company and how exciting it can be covering news on a large scale, and learn about possible future career paths. I also got to meet and connect with great people in this industry who I will continue to keep in touch with.


Me, trying to keep my cool at Buzzfeed.

I first followed Dominic Holden on Twitter in the early hours of June 12, 2016 when @buzzfeednews tweeted, suggesting that those who wanted updates on the Pulse Nightclub Shooting in Orlando, Florida, follow him.

When Omar Mateen killed 49 people in the Pulse Nightclub Shooting, I was only 187 miles south. And despite it being the middle of the night, I was awake.

After I read the words BREAKING and SHOOTER, I climbed off the sticky, deflating air mattress that I was sharing with my sister, and found myself sitting on the piano bench in the dark living room. I clicked follow and spent the remaining hours until my family woke up reading everything I could about the tragedy that took place in Orlando that morning.

Dominic Holden is the national LGBT reporter for Buzzfeed News. He is based in New York.

I have been following Dominic’s work for the past nine months. When I first followed him on Twitter I had already been hired by The Beacon, but I did not yet know that I wanted to be a journalist.

Two weeks ago, I entered a media tours lottery for the fast approaching College Media Association spring convention. I clicked the boxes for The New York Times, Rolling Stone and Buzzfeed. I was one of twenty students who got to go to Buzzfeed. I was so excited and overwhelmed and busy in the days leading up to the conference and tour that reaching out to Dominic before the tour did not occur to me until the morning of.

Two hours before I was supposed to be walking through the gates of heaven, oh wait, I mean walking through the doors of Buzzfeed, I DM’d Dominic on Twitter. I asked myself “What’s the worst that could happen?” And clicked send.


This is the view from the 16th floor of Buzzfeed NY. (My jaw dropped, too.)

He responded, told me where his desk was, and said he would be glad to talk to me.

After the tour of Buzzfeed’s incredible, 16 story New York office, I was introduced to him in the cafeteria, which they call The Canteen. I was so nervous that my hands were shaking, but I smiled and shook his hand and he invited me to stay for lunch.


Me, after the tour Q&A with Buzzfeed video producer Matt Ford, during which I raised my hand about 12 times.

Just be yourself.

My stream of consciousness from those few minutes looked something like this: I’m wearing heels, what if I fall? Don’t spill. Don’t fall. Don’t forget all the questions you want to ask him. Don’t look nervous. Wow, this place is so cool. I want to work somewhere where they give you free Mexican food. Compliment her purple hair but don’t stare. Don’t trip. Don’t spill. Act natural. Wow, I really want to work here. What do I have to do to get them to hire me? Why is everyone wearing jeans? Can they tell that I am freaking out? Don’t fall. Don’t spill. Don’t stare.

Dominic noticed that I was looking confused and told me I could sit wherever I wanted. Great, I’ll go clear myself a spot at the breaking news desk, I thought. But then realized he meant for lunch, and I found a table for two in the middle of the room near a window, and sat down.

After a few minutes, I settled down.

In 2016, Dominic won the Journalist of the Year Award from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalism Association. His niche is LGBT news. He’s reported on so many important LGBT stories including Gavin Grimm, the Pulse Nightclub Shooting and North Carolina’s Bathroom Bill. He wakes up at 6:30 a.m. and checks Twitter from bed. He makes his own ranch dressing and when lunch at the office isn’t catered (Tuesday, Thursday and Friday) he brings a turkey sandwich and Doritos. He’s from Seattle but he loves New York. Before he was hired by Buzzfeed he was the news and managing editor at The Stranger, a weekly arts and culture newspaper in Seattle. He didn’t graduate from high school and he doesn’t have a G.E.D.. Before he became a journalist, he was a drug activist and campaigned for the legalization of marijuana. He’s turning 40 this spring. He likes his job.

He patiently answered all my questions, and surprised me by asking quite a few back.

After I finished telling him about the story I wrote for National Coming Out Day and the ways I hoped it would be thought provoking and impactful on our small, Catholic campus, he asked me, “Do you want to be a journalist or an activist?” I paused then said, “A journalist.”

We talked about the difficulties of reporting on social issues in a neutral way. He said he finds it difficult to report on some issues as if they are two sided, when one side clearly neglects human rights. But it’s his job to cover them neutrally, so he does. “Do you want to be a neutral journalist?” he asked me. I thought for a moment, and told him, “I don’t want to be a neutral person, but I want to be a neutral journalist.” I explained how important it is to me to cover things that matter and provide neutral, but thought provoking coverage that may challenge problematic ideology by presenting facts and truth.

According to their website, “BuzzFeed is the leading independent digital media and tech company delivering news and entertainment content to a global audience.” The company has 18 offices worldwide and the New York office is in the process of constructing a rooftop workspace. When I visited, most people were wearing jeans. The energy was positive and productive. When it came time for me to leave, I didn’t want to. I was left wanting more. I learned and left inspired.

I only spent a few hours at Buzzfeed, but I haven’t stopped talking about it since I walked out of the building.

I only got to go on this tour because of the media tours facet of the College Media Association spring convention. This was absolutely the best part of the conference and trip for me because in the time I spent at Buzzfeed, and since then, I have realized what my goals are, I have been totally reinspired to pursue them.


-Olivia Sanchez-


I learned a lot at the College Media Association. I would be worried if I hadn’t. But here’s the thing—I wasn’t expecting to do a little teaching of my own while I was in New York City. And I did just that in addition to learning.

I went to a session about making your college newspaper go all digital and, unlike the other sessions, the faces leading this one were familiar. The Beacon was doing the teaching at this session and it was evident that we were doing it well because the young journalists in the audience were engaged and had lots of questions.

The Beacon’s very own Malika Andrews and Clare Duffy leading one of the sessions at CMA.

During the tour I took of Bloomberg News, I became friends with a student from PLU. After the tour had ended, I decided I wanted to go see Grand Central Station and he decided to tag along. When we found Grand Central Station, we both whipped out our cameras and began shooting.

After a few clicks from our cameras, he asked me why his photos were turning out too dark. So, I taught him how to properly use his camera—how to use the manual setting to get shutter speed, aperture, and ISO just right. Suddenly, I was the teacher! And it was exciting to be one! I was helping others learn!

The resulting image of Grand Central Station.

I’m on a plane now heading back to Portland. I was sad to leave New York City—it’s true that a tear or two were shed—but I’m also ready to bring back what I’ve learned to The Beacon. I’m ready to do some more learning, but I’m also ready to do some teaching.

Annika Gordon

When thinking about the highlight of this trip, it was difficult to pinpoint exactly what stood out. I got to attend a conference in New York City, see the Fearless Girl before it is taken down, tour Democracy Now and watch a live broadcast, meet Mara Schiavocampo and Amy Goodman, see Trevor Noah, experience a blizzard and so many more to mention!

Although some of the workshops did not appeal to me, many stood out and gave me a piece of journalistic knowledge to bring back to Portland. Mara Schiavocampo’s keynotes speech inspired me to build relationships and meet as many people as I can. Amy Goodman showed me the fierceness and power of a journalist. Ultimately, this learning experience is something I will take with me wherever life leads me today, tomorrow and onto the future. And because it is difficult to express how I feel about this experience, here’s a short clip I made of our trip.

-Rachel Ramirez

Rachel Rippetoe|

Nancy Copic, Beacon lord and savior, waited in line for SIX HOURS so that we could all see a live taping of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. She’s an advisor rock star.

I asked Trevor Noah a question and he answered it.

Was it the highlight of my New York trip? I don’t want to say that. I came to watch a team of budding Beacon journalists find new ways to challenge themselves and improve, and to learn how to lead a staff in a way I never have before, so if I say making Trevor Noah (beautiful human, light of my life) laugh at a live taping of his Comedy Central show “The Daily Show” was the highlight of my trip (or possibly my life?) I think I’d be cheating myself out of the other wonderful lessons I learned at this year’s conference.

But I raised my hand very high and he pointed at me and I asked a question. He answered it in front of a live audience and everyone laughed and it made me very very happy, but more importantly it made me proud of myself. I’ve changed in a lot of ways since working for The Beacon, but one of the best outcomes of my time as an editor and reporter has been my growing confidence to raise my hand and ask a question.

This is pre-show, pre-question. We were having a pretty fabulous time. You can find Hannah Sievert and Dora in the far left corner behind Nancy, Jeff and Annika. From left to right at the bottom: Olivia, myself and Rachel Ramirez.

It’s the most quintessential aspect of being a journalist. It seems simple enough, but if you’ve struggled with confidence in general like I have, it can be the hardest thing in the world. For me, interviewing has always been pretty easy. There are aspects I’ve had to become aware of and improve upon, but the social part of sitting down alone with someone and asking them questions for a specific purpose has never been a difficult thing for me. It’s when you’re in a crowded room and someone is at the center and you need to ask them a question while everyone else is listening and watching and waiting for their turn. That’s when my heart starts racing and the words just don’t come out. I think of five different questions in my head and I dismiss them all as stupid. I say to myself that everybody in the room already knows the answer and they’ll scoff at me for even asking. But working towards a career in journalism has taught me that if I’m wondering about something, it’s likely that someone else in the room is too, and in many ways, it’s my job to ask the simple, “stupid” questions. So just recently, I’ve started raising my hand. I raise it during talks, panels, sessions. I raised it at my tour of Democracy Now! so many times I could feel the eye rolls I was prompting from the back of the room, but I didn’t care. The miraculous thing is that I got called on, and often times my questions weren’t stupid at all.

Though I have been shut down and scoffed at. At a talk about solutions journalism the night before we headed out for New York, I asked a question that did not receive a real answer, rather a resounding “Just be a journalist, do your job, duh.” It didn’t feel great, but it didn’t stop me from asking questions.

So there I was, sitting in an audience of visitors and New Yorkers in Trevor Noah’s studio, running on four hours of sleep and not nearly enough coffee, but with a burning question in my brain. I was the final question. I asked, he answered, laughter ensued. It was a great time. But I also hope that the staffers behind me, still young and learning, know that the confidence to raise your hand doesn’t come naturally to me, or a lot of the journalists you see in press rooms or events. It comes from time, a lot of mental pep talks and a lot of rejection (in which you discover that the worst thing that can happen when you ask a “stupid” question isn’t really all that bad).

It might be silly, but getting called on by my future husband Trevor Noah is a great way to show the rewards of a maybe not-so-confidant person putting themselves out there. We had a beautiful connection and later I got to watch him drop his pants to show a blue pair of undies. What a beautiful reward.

So ask that stupid question, girl (or boy)! See where it takes you.