This Annika Gordon photo of the UP Men’s soccer team after winning the WCC title won First Place for Breaking News Photo (university with fewer than 10,000 students). In all, The Beacon took First Place awards in six categories in the regional Mark of Excellence Awards sponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists.

The Beacon has won six First Place awards in the regional Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence contest, and now advances to the national SPJ competition in the following categories:


Small university (9,999 or fewer undergraduates):

National winners will be notified in the late spring and will be recognized at the Excellence in Journalism conference in Anaheim, Calif, in September.

Beacon content was also a regional finalist (Second or Third Place) in the following categories:

  • Breaking News Reporting (Clare Duffy, Hannah Baade)
  • In-depth Reporting(Clare Duffy, Malika Andrews, Rachel Rippetoe, Annika Gordon)
  • Sports Writing (Malika Andrews)
  • Best Use of Multimedia (Cheyenne Schoen, Jeff Braccia)
  • Online News Reporting (Clare Duffy,Hannah Baade)
  • Online In-depth Reporting (Clare Duffy, Malika Andrews, Rachel Rippetoe, Hannah Baade, Jenna Rossiter)

The Mark of Excellence Awards for Region 10 involved student media entries from colleges and universities in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. See complete regional contest results here.


Competing against student media at colleges and universities in five states, The Beacon has placed either First, Second or Third in the Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Awards for Region 10 (Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Alaska) in the following categories, for a total of 13 winning entries:

Results will be announced May 6 at the Washington Collegiate Journalism Conference at the University of Washington. First Place winners will advance to the national Mark of Excellence competition.


Rachel Rippetoe – Living Editor
  1. Context is key and it’s missing from a lot of major news today. To truly do your job as a journalist you need to be reading and researching and encompassing the background of what’s happening in major news stories.
  2. You need to let your coworkers get to know you. Build your brand and it will help you gain opportunities.
  3. Identify people who have the job you want and look at their path to success !!
  4. Look at newsroom issues as a triage unit. Focus on what you can save best and trash what you need to.
  5. As an Editor- in- Chief, it’s not about being right. It’s about doing the right things for the right reason.
Olivia Sanchez – Opinion and Faith Editor
  1. Build relationships everywhere you go, you never know when they will come in handy!
  2. Teamwork is everything. No one person could keep The Beacon afloat, we are most successful when we all work together. (It’s also way more fun when we are all here for each other.)
  3. Good things come to those who hustle…. And if you want to make a career in New York, or in journalism, you have to commit and give it your all!
  4. Be memorable (but be yourself). Branding is super important. (I have been thinking about this a lot).
  5. Take a risk every once in a while! And remember that people usually want to help you succeed.
Jeffrey Braccia – Photographer/Videographer
  1. Be ready to do both (photos and video).
  2. A good photo captures and event but also make you feel emotion.
  3. Keep doing what you love. You never know what career path you will take.
  4. Networking is key.
  5. Digital is the future embrace what we have and keep making it the best it can be.

Dora Totoian- Reporter

  1. Don’t be afraid to put pressure on your college to give you information – you pay to go there! On a related note, the freedom and sanctity of the press and the importance of the First Amendment were repeated throughout the conference.
  2. Be confident and speak up! Especially if you’re a woman. One of the keynote speakers expressed her fear that an idea may seem too obvious or too dumb, when it’s usually not that way at all. In the same vein, ask questions (in any context), even if they sound stupid because they’re probably not. Joanne Lipman’s story of how she was hired for the Wall Street Journal really impressed me.
  3. Say “yes” to everything, a point Ann Shoket made in her keynote. She encouraged young people to “get a job, any job” and to take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself – even if you’re scared, advice I considered really important to all people our age and especially student reporters.
  4. Networking is not that scary – it depends how you think of it. People have to know you to hire you for something, and by making yourself known, you’re letting them consider you a possible candidate for an internship or job.
  5. The Beacon is a high-quality newspaper. Can this be a takeaway? Is it bragging? I don’t really care because after hearing about and talking to people from other newspapers, I think it is.

Hannah Sievert- Reporter/Copy Editor

  1. Be aware of fake news.  I went to a session about fake news and how to identify it, called “Fake News in the Age of Trump.”  I took away from this that in this age we need to be aware of what news we are reading, if the news is legitimate, and the amount of fake news that is now on the internet.  The woman speaking recommended use of newsliteracyproject.org.  She also said we should be teaching students in middle and elementary school about how to read news and recognize fake news to help the problem of fake news in our society today.
  2. Mara Schiavocampo (ABC News) taught me that it’s important to build a network while in journalism.  She suggested to be yourself and be persistent in building relationships with others.  I took away from her that building a network comes from being consistent in reaching out to the person, every three months or so.  IMG_7363
  3. I went to a session on feature writing, and I took away that it’s important to be passionate, motivated, and interested when being a writer, and your basic mission as a news writer is to be a storyteller.  At the session, I took away that when feature writing, start the story by focusing on a person, scene or event that illustrates the main point of a story.  The lead should go from specific to general, and the ending should refer back to the lead.  My favorite thing the speaker said was, “Don’t lead a story with a quote unless it’s from God.”  He recommended that you give readers a sense of place from the very beginning with writing a feature piece, which comes from taking a small thing about the person that gives a sense of place. The feature writing session also taught me a lot about how to get freelance magazine assignments.  The speaker said to start small, and know the voice of the magazine thoroughly.  He recommended that you “come up with the best idea you’ve ever had” when thinking of what to submit to a magazine.  I also took away some good examples of feature writing, like “The Young Man, The Myth, The Legend,” by Wright Thomson.
  4. One of my sessions about multimedia was taught by a woman who was getting her PhD in multimedia, and she said that the written word part of a story is often the last thing people look at when looking at a story.  An audience first looks at the photography and media, and then reads.  She said to treat photography, multimedia, and visuals that accompany a story as equal importance to the writing of it. She also said the layout was important to having a person keep reading.
  5. Ann Shoket and Joanne Lipman spoke about the importance of getting a job when you’re young, learning how an office works, and learning how to run and be a part of a real business meeting.  They said you should initially not get hung up on a 1st job, but it’s important to get any job in the industry that you want to be at out of college.  She also said that she sees a lot of women and young people being in meetings sitting off to the side, thinking their opinion doesn’t count and not saying much.  She said it’s important to sit at the table in a meeting, and don’t be afraid to speak your mind.  She said “force yourself” to speak up, even if it’s not your personality.

Annika Gordon- Multimedia Editor

  1. Networking is about forming and keeping up RELATIONSHIPS.
  2. Twitter is a super important tool for all journalism (including photojournalism) and I NEED to make one.
  3. I need to go into a situation with the mindset to take video AND photos.
  4. Use jpeg instead of raw format if you’re somewhere where things are happening pretty fast because this format, while of slightly poorer quality, is faster.
  5. When you have a job interview, make sure you have a war story to talk about, a challenge that you overcame.


Speaking of networking… One of the joys of advising student media is connecting current students with former Beacon staffers. In New York, we met up with Kate Stringer, a 2014 grad living in New York and working as a reporter/producer for The 74, an online publication focused on education issues.Thanks Kate for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with us!


Former Beacon reporter and Living Editor Kate Stringer (’14) holds current Beacon staffers in rapt attention with her tales of working and living in New York as a young journalist.

Throwback: March 2013 as then-Beacon reporter Kate Stringer was serenaded by a singing waiter in New York during The Beacon’s trip to the College Media Association conference,


The Beacon bond stretches across generations.

The Beacon’s transition from a weekly newspaper to an all digital 24/7 news outlet has turned into a model that student media organizations at other colleges and universities apparently are watching. CMA invited The Beacon to lead a session on the subject at the New York conference.

Beacon adviser Nancy Copic leading “Diving into Digital” session.

Malika, Clare and I worked as a team in telling our counterparts from other schools how we changed our approach to our work, overhauled our workflow and implemented rolling deadlines, incorporated multimedia and inforgraphics in our storytelling and how we use analytics as a motivator.

Beacon Editor-in-Chief Malika Andrews talks about the transition from weekly newspaper to all-digital campus news outlet.

Clare new york download 1

Managing Editor Clare Duffy describes the big change in Beacon workflow since going all-digital.

The Beacon’s Dynamic Duo

Watching Clare and Malika, I felt nothing but pride at their leadership over the past year and their professionalism during the session itself. Throughout the rest of the conference, we were all approached with positive feedback and questions about how we do what we do. Because Malika is also headed to the New York Times to be a James Reston Fellow after graduation, she was also asked to be on a panel about successfully moving from college media into the professional world. She was the talk of the conference after that.

Group text from Beacon photographer Jeff Braccia:

text 1 text 2text3

-Nancy Copic

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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.