Archive for March, 2011

Rolling Stone is my favorite magazine. So naturally, I was holding back fist pumps when I found out I would be able to tour the legendary mag’s headquarters at the convention this weekend. I must have texted ten people the morning before the tour, using emoticons and exclamation marks generously.

19 other conventioneers and I walked to the headquarters, which were located in downtown NY in an inconspicuous skyscraper. After signing in, we headed to the second floor where we met the deputy art director of Rolling Stone, Steven Charney. He lead us through Men’s Health and US Weekly headquarters to get to the Rolling Stone offices.

The first thing we saw was a wall of Rolling Stone covers dating back to 1967, when the magazine was created. Then we walked through the cubicles, stopping frequently to admire artwork that had been featured in the mag. We also saw spreads for the upcoming issue and a “special” issue that will cover the 100 best musicians of all time. Our last stop before Charney’s office was the music room, where up-and-coming artists play for the Rolling Stone staff. One of the most recent performances was given by Mumford and Sons. (!)

When we got to Charney’s office, we met Rolling Stone managing editor John Dioso. The two talked at length about their professional pasts. Charney studied illustration in college where he drew pictures for the weekly newspaper, and went on to work as a designer and assistant art director for various lesser known publications before signing on as an art director at Rolling Stone. Dioso worked as an editor (copy, associate, assistant, managing) for a bunch of different mags like US Weekly, National Geographic Adventure, and New York Magazine before coming to Rolling Stone.

Although the two have completely different jobs, they both emphasized…

1) that the media industry is cutthroat. They’d both been laid off or fired at some point.

2) that networking is important.

3) that you always have to be on your toes when working for a magazine. (When Michael Jackson died, they had a week to put together a tribute issue.)

3) that it had always been a dream to work for Rolling Stone, and they find their work very exciting and rewarding.

I left after shaking hands with Dioso and Charney, feeling pretty awestruck and inspired. Getting a job at such a high-profile magazine has to be crazy difficult, but hey, someone’s gotta do it. Dioso and Charney both dreamed about working for Rolling Stone when they were young. Who’s to say it won’t be you next?


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In many ways our trip to New York City was more than a dream come true. We had a private tour of CNN, I sat on the steps of the Met and toured the Associated Press headquarters. I also learned a lot about writing and journalism practices during the many hours we spent in workshops.

It just so happens that this conference was perfectly timed with an assignment for my journalism practicum class, in which I created and write a fashion blog. For my assignment I have to create a 3-5 minute video regarding fashion. What better place to capture the world of fashion than the fashion capital of America! After my tour of the Associated Press, I ran off to find Mood Fabrics–the fabric store featured on Project Runway.

I interviewed an employee about men’s fashion and a sculptor who finds her inspiration from fashion. Earlier in the trip I interviewed an NYU student who used to blog for Teen Vogue.

You can find the edited video of the interviews on my blog by March 27.

–Caitlin Yilek

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E-mail is now officially email.

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One of the keynote speakers at the NYC College Media Convention was former White House correspondent Helen Thomas, 90, who was condemned by some (including President Obama) for comments she made during this exchange last spring.

At the convention, Thomas stood by her remarks on Israel, repeatedly saying, “Stop taking what doesn’t belong to you.”

One student, an Israeli attending the University of Massachusetts in Boston, asked Thomas where she should go if the Jews should leave Israel. Thomas’ reply: “Come to America.”

More on Thomas’ appearance at the convention and why she wants an apology from Barack Obama  here.-Nancy Copic

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In this workshop, Frank LoMonte , executive director of the Student Press Law Center addressed increasingly important legal issues regarding websites. A few salient tidbits:

  • Under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act,  one is not liable for information on one’s website that one does not create. In other words, The Beacon would not be liable for a posted reader comment.
  • It’s important not to edit online comments because once you revise them, you become the creator and therefore become liable.
  • Interesting:  According to LoMonte, there’s a legal double standard for the print and online editions. Under current law, a newspaper could be held liable for a libelous Letter to the Editor printed in a publication. However, the law gives the same newspaper immunity if libelous comments posted by a reader  appear on its website.

-Nancy Copic

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These nuggets came from an immensely entertaining workshop by Michael Koretsky,  adviser to  Florida Atlantic University’s student newspaper and director of the NYC 2011 College Media Convention.

  • “Rule with an iron fist, yet wear a velvet glove.”
  • “Fire a slacker, set an example.”
  • (re: meetings) “Short and small all the time is better than big and long once in a while.”
  • “Start out as an a***hole. Ease up later.”
  • “Give them (staffers) every opportunity to learn. But if they don’t want to learn, get rid of them.”

Questions from student editors in the audience indicated that they all share similar personnel issues. ‘So glad Rosemary was there too!


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Switching from College Publisher to WordPress?

WordPress hack attack and Making WordPress work for you-

The main reason I attended these two workshops by Daniel Bachhuber is because we’re looking at alternatives to College Publisher for The Beacon website now that CP is going to start charging $2-grand a year for what has (to this point) been free.

Daniel had tons of useful info including useful WordPress plug-ins (ie: embedly, emphasis, subscribe to comments, W3 total cache) and the 8-step process of transitioning from CP to WordPress, in a nutshell:

  1. Assess CMC options (popular ones: WordPress, CP, Gryphon, Blox-also known as Town News-which I we are also considering.)
  2. Purchase web hosting
  3. Set up your site
  4. Choose theme
  5. Install plug-ins
  6. Secure line of support
  7. Migrate archives
  8. Train staff on new system

You can find Daniel’s outline for his two presentations here and here.

As an aside: One of my concerns about switching to WordPress is that there’s no guarantee they won’t start charging someday as well. In fact, this very blog is on WordPress, and for the first time, I just noticed a Google ad appear on one of the heretofore ad-free pages. Hmmmm….


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Yes, it’s true. Walking back from Subway (not the NY subway, Jarrod’s Subway) on 45th St. during a lunch break between workshops, Chris Rock, who’s now appearing on Broadway,  walked by us and we were embarrassingly starstruck.


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Breathing life into your cutlines

Breathing Life into your Cutlines, with Kevin Kline from Berry College.

This session dealt with cutlines, which was very helpful for me, since I’m the one who typically writes them.
Some of the things we went over were:

-don’t repeat information from the headline, the deck, or the lead

-looking at a picture without a cutline is like watching TV with the sound turned off and without close captions

-good cutline can continue the story and fill in the details which are not apparent in the picture

-write cutlines as if they are a mini-news story. Address the what, who, when, where, why, and how.

-include small details that aren’t obvious (include details from the photo that might be overlooked by a casual reader – this can make it more interesting for a second look).

-include taste, smell, and touch – round out a caption with sensual details

-use a quote whenever possible – a direct quote from the subject (this was new to me)

-editorializing: don’t make conclusions about what the subject is thinking or feeling – let the reader decide

-avoid stating the obvious

-always identify the main people in the photo

-interview people about what is being depicted

– in the first line, use present tense. This will create a sense of immediacy and impact. Use second tense for the second sentence.

-use directions, “above” or “above left”

-get the details about what happened before and after the photo was taken

-parts of a cutline:

1.) the lead in: one or two words that are capitalized and/or in bold

2.) 1 st sentence: who, what, where (in present tense)

3.) 2nd sentence: why, how (background information in past tense)

-use strong visual and specific nouns

-use lively verbs

-don’t begin with the names, typically

-don’t do the same thing over and over: don’t be formulaic

-don’t pad the cutline to fill space

-don’t direct address – no talking to the photo (the photo shows…)

-6 deadly sins of writing cutlines:

1.) starting with the name

2.) “picture here”

3.) someone “looks on”

4.) including the words: appear to, seems to

5.) “poses for/ smiles for,” or any reference to posing or smiling

6.) “works hard / works diligently,” this shows opinion


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Wringing the bad habits out of your eager but inexperience staff, with Tom Pierce from the St. Petersburg Times.

This session dealt with the “wrongs” of reporting and writing

You need to deal with the reporting first:

-too few sources

-wrong sources

-making it hard for sources to contact you

-sloppy interviewing

-not recognizing news values, reader interests, manipulation by sources

-procrastinating on assignments and writing

-not getting enough information, background, quotes (reporters should have more information then what goes into the article)

-not getting sources’ phone numbers for checkback

-not appreciating “contacts”

-making promises you can’t keep

In writing:

-not staying objective (editorializing)

-being inaccurate

-using bad grammar

-not attributing almost everything

-weak leads

-awkward quotes

-paragraphs that are too long

-stories that are too short

-stories that are not in AP style

-committing “word fat”


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