Archive for February, 2010

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So today started out with Roya having to kick my butt out of bed. After a much needed shower to wake me up, I we went to my first workshop which was on instituting student media boards in order to protect free speech at private universities.

It was really cool to hear all about the minutiae behind the operations of student media boards and how helpful they can be to student media organizations.

After a quick Starbucks break (non-fat mocha please =]) I ran off to my second workshop which was much more exciting than the first.

This workshop was all about how to be an amazing investigative reporter; and believe me the workshop leader has done it all. He was the coolest BAMF you’ll ever meet (and I’m pretty sure Andy was in love with him). He told us some pretty good tips about how to get information.

Talking to the keynote speaker, Rob Curly, was the highlight of my day. After spending an hour talking to the entire conference folk about how the Las Vegas Sun integrates every form of media in covering the news, I then went to his Q&A session where he showed everyone some amazing new applications of news reporting and using a Web site to spread information.

I’m not lying, this guy blew my mind. He showed us stuff that was incredible. However, he said if we talked about the details on a blog he would pretty much destroy the writer. Haha. I’m not sure if he was joking, so I am going to play it safe. I’m just going to say that I really want to apply for an internship at The Sun.

The final workshop I attended was an advice session for editors. It was really helpful and made me think about how you are supposed to motivate people as well as help people succeed at their newspaper ambitions.

Well, that’s my spiel for the day.


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Where to start?
From one workshop to another, the first day here has been dizzying. In a good way. This conference is a gold mine of good ideas!

It’s been rewarding to see how Beacon staffers are benefiting from this convention, exciting to see them excited about new ways of looking at things, better ways of doing things. Me too!

Let’s start with online stuff. Because, like me, The Beacon has a lot of catching up to do technologically, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to do that. Fortunately, there was a great panel discussion about managing a Web site and using tools- many of them free- to make the most of it. Just the list of free tools is a valuable resource. Some, such as Google docs, I’m familiar with and use. But here are a few that are new to me:
Etherpad- allows 2 people to edit a story at once
Issuu- a more interactive alternative to uploading a PDF version of the newspaper
ping.fm- allows you to update multiple social networking sites
Vimeo _ I knew about for webcasts, but have never used
feedburner-email service
emailmefor.com- for letters to the editor
Reinvigorate helps track web traffic (so does Google analytics)
the web developers tool bar on Firefox- If using open sourced software like WordPress,the tool allows you to make changes to your website and preview the changes before publishing them.

Of course, twitter came up quite a bit. One memorable piece of advice was about tweeting just once a day (to promote a story, etc.) and for breaking news. Otherwise, it’s annoying. I agree.

Another workshop:Interesting discussion about helping reporters develop a “web first” mentality, training them to insert hyperlinks in their stories as a matter of habit. In fact, one panelist suggested that if a reporter sends a story without at least 3 hyperlinks, it should be sent back to the reporter. (If I was ambitious, I would insert a hyperlink here. But I’m tired. So sue me).

Another outstanding workshop was about “coaching” writers, which is a big part of my job. Michael Roberts of the Arizona Republic gave this one. He’s great. In fact, his websites are worth a couple of links.

Another thing I’ve enjoyed is the “newspaper exchange.” There are tables with stacks of newspapers from the various colleges represented at the convention.

Just some of the college newspapers I snagged

I grabbed a bunch. It’s fun to see what others are doing and glean (steal?) their good ideas. Andy texted me at one point to let me know all the Beacons were snatched up. We felt pretty smug about that 🙂


Then it was dinner time. -Nancy

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“Working for the newspaper makes you just short of immortal God.”- Mark Witherspoon

Well… maybe not quite, but working for a paper is pretty damn exciting. So far this conference has been super fun and pretty informational.

Today was FULL of journalism workshops. The first one I went to with Roya (holla atcha girl!). I learned all about how journalists are affected by interviewing tragedy and trauma victims and survivors.

According to Miguel, one of the presenters for the workshop, journalists need to be careful about the way they approach victims and survivors of horrible situations.

“You are with someone on the very worst day of your life,” she said. “Don’t ask how they feel, don’t say you know just how they feel. Just say I’m sorry.”

I’m not going to lie, this is information I wish I had earlier. I can think of a few situations from last year and this year where this approach would have been helpful.

Although you need to be careful about how you approach these survivors and victims, the speakers made it clear that even if it is not something that happened to you, you are viewing and thinking about these things and you can have a vicarious response. Some people don’t feel entitled to have those feelings and then feel guilty about having those feelings, but it’s okay and you need to give yourself permission to feel.

The next workshop I went to was on improving The Beacon’s web presence. TWITTER HERE WE COME.

My favorite workshop of the day was definitely the one on paper design (I know, strange right?). Apparently there are a ton of weird phrases that real journalists use. Does anyone know where the Blomo is? But FYI, Andy is right, I pica around a picture is “pleasing to the eye.”

My last workshop of the day had to do with handing difficult people when you are an editor. Mark Witherspoon, the guy I quoted up top, was definitely one of the more effervescent presenters.

“Why are we here? Because we don’t know sh*t about math or science,” Witherspoon said.

Haha. True. But he also said a lot of helpful stuff. It really made me think about exactly how a good editor acts.

“Create an environment in which everyone is serving everyone else. If you are successful at that, then you have a lot less bitching people,” he said. “You create a loving environment that people want to be in and enjoy being a part of.”


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First day at the convention and I have already learned so much! Today consisted of five workshops and the keynote speaker today here in Phoenix. Each session gave me a different perspective on journalism and what it means to be a journalist in today’s society.

One of my workshops was the Introduction to covering tragedy and trauma which was put on by the Dart Center. The Dart Center, which is out of Washington state, focuses on helping journalists work with and interview victims of traumatic events. The session reminded me of a psychology course because we learned of the different responses that a victim will have emotionally and physically to an event. A journalist must be able to understand these signs of trauma and be able to adapt to them.

The speakers also touched on the fact that interviewing a victim might help them work though their experience in a positive way. This reminded me of experience of interviewing Rachel for the Haiti article. After the interview, I received an email from Rachel in which she told me that it was "more than just an interview" and that it was very cathartic for her. This was one of the best moments I have had yet on The Beacon.

The rest of the day was also very interesting. The rest of my sessions ranged from an ethics debate with a prof from ASU to an open records policies course to a non-verbal communication lesson. My notebook is filled with notes and random stories told by the speakers which will hopefully help me in the future.

My favorite session of the day was a panel on reporting on a private college. It was interesting to get a different perspective from other small universities from around the country and the struggles that have had within their communities and their administrations. I attended this session with Rosemary, Hannah and Nancy and we all had a very good discussion afterwards about The Beacon and the limitations we could face by being a publication from a private university. I have really enjoyed being able to attend these sessions and then applying them to by own experience working on The Beacon.

Phoenix has been wonderful so far and so have my lovely roommates! (SHOUT OUT TO HANNAH AND ROSEMARY).
Here’s to another day tomorrow at the journalism convention!

peace, love & newspapers,

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Tomorrow, three editors and two reporters from the University of Portland’s student-run newspaper, The Beacon, head to Phoenix for the Associated Collegiate Press National Journalism Convention. Friday through Sunday, they will attend journalism workshops covering a variety of topics including reporting, editing, covering tragedy and sensitive issues, ethics, newspaper design, new media, college issues, managing student employees and more.

It should be especially fun and enriching to mingle and share stories with hundreds of other collegiate journalists from across the country.

The attendees- Andy, Rosemary, Aaron, Hannah and Roya will chronicle their experiences and lessons on this blog daily. ‘Should be an adventure! – Nancy Copic, Ass’t Director for Student Media, University of Portland

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