After a whirlwind tour of the Valley of the Sun, The Beacon staff members chosen for the trip to the ACP journalism convention are back in Portland. I’m happy to say that The Beacon was awarded 7th place honors in the Best in Show contest among 30-40 other four-year university weeklies. The award — don’t let the “7th place” fool you, it’s a really big deal — is a deserved testament to the hard work and dedication of the staff. The University of Portland is lucky to have so enthusiastic and skilled a student newspaper.
And thanks to Rosemary for the kind words. As I said, the award is symptomatic of all the hard work put in by the staff, and it pains me greatly that more of them were unable to join us and share in the glory. Hopefully, winning an award validating how bad-ass we know we are and the knowledge those who went shall pass on will offer some solace.
My notebook is full of good tips and strategies I’m excited to share and pursue. The design guy I saw was cool. He gave me some tips I’m pumped to try out, and helped validate that my philosophies on newspaper design aren’t totally crazy. Rob Curly, one of the keynotes, was very refreshing to hear. His philosophies on technology and journalism show that there is some hope out there. A lot of what he said kind of gave voice to some stuff I’ve been kicking around in my head for a while. It’s nice to see there are people out there trying different things when it comes to reporting in our brave new world. I’ll sleep a bit better at night.
My favorite part about these kinds of things, however, whether it’s time with some pro who comes by the office or if we go somewhere else to learnthings, is the stories. One speaker, three-time Pulitzer nominee and investigative journalists Robert Anglin was ten pounds of bad-ass in a five pound bag. People ask him if he got into journalism to help people, to use his reporting to make the world a better place, he told us. He said no, he just wants to punish people. His big kick was holding those in power accountable, and boy does he like to do it. He’s been shot at, had murders come to his door, been threatened, name it. Someone asked him, though I may be over-simplifying his question, if the search for truth in or line of work could ever do more harm than good. Anglin told him, “That’s bullshit … the truth always serves the public good.” My kind of guy.
Another guy I met was Jeff Hana. He’s the adviser for the independent student paper at the University of New Mexico in Las Cruces. He was my critic for the critique session, and he had some good points that I’m looking forward to discussing with the other editors. Most of what we ended up doing, as I’m sure you can guess, was talking shop. He was a crotchety, older fellow, and had no problem telling it like it was with my paper, and his stories told me he didn’t mind doing the same thing at the paper he advises either. Beyond the fun exchange of war stories, one thing he said really stuck out. He encouraged me and the staff to experiment and remember we work at the paper to learn about journalism. He made sure to hammer it home before I left: “If someone tells you the paper looks like shit, tell them it won’t next time.”