Archive for March, 2013

The Beacon has won 10 regional Mark of Excellence awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. The competition includes collegiate newspapers from Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. The Beacon competed in the “small” university/college category (5000 or fewer undergrads).

What we don’t know is whether the awards were for First, Second or Third Place. That will be announced at the SPJ regional conference at Gonzaga the weekend of April 13. First Place finishers advance to the national SPJ Mark of Excellence competition.

Here’s the list of award-winners from The Beacon:

Editorial Writing – Caitlin Yilek
Best All-Around Non Daily Student Newspaper  – Beacon staff
Breaking News Photography “She said yes!” -Jackie Jeffers
Feature Photography  “The story behind the ink” by Giovanna Solano
Feature Writing “Molly’s Legacy: Hope for Haiti” – Kate Stringer
General Column Writing Sarah Hansell, Amanda Munro & Lydia Laythe
General News Reporting “Access Denied” – Phillip Ellefson
General News Reporting “Students Cooperate but still can’t party”-Kelsey Thomas
In-Depth Reporting “What’s in our air?” – Rosemary Peters
Sports Photography “Round Two!” -Jackie Jeffers

-Nancy Copic

Read Full Post »

IMG_8927 IMG_8936 IMG_8955 IMG_8960 IMG_8963 IMG_8967


Katie and I took a trip down to the Museum of Natural History where we saw butterflies in the conservatory!IMG_9015 IMG_9023IMG_9009 IMG_9155 IMG_9161

Read Full Post »

IMG_8842 IMG_8837 IMG_8821

IMG_8883 IMG_8893

Dinner at Ellen’s Stardust and Beacon photos in front of NBC and The Rockefeller Center.

– Giovanna Solano

Read Full Post »

CentralParkAfter the College Media Convention in NYC, I asked the Beacon staffers who attended to list 5 things they learned there, without duplicating items on a fellow staffers list. They shared these with the entire Beacon staff at their weekly critique meeting:

Shellie Adams;

1. Google yourself and see where you stand on the Internet. Improve, and develop a strong and professional online presence.

2. Don’t draw conclusions and don’t tell people what to do in stories.

3. Websites and Apps: there are tons of them but here’s a few. Tout (16 second videos), Overviewproject.org (searches through dense pieces of writing to find hooks and important aspects), Storyful.com (website for journalists to post breaking news and a blog)

4. You’ve got to communicate with your photographer. When you cut a story ,you tell the reporter. If you cut a photo tell the photographer.

5. Photos of people looking bored are boring photos. Photos of white people shaking hands is a bad photo especially when they are men in suits. There has never been, since the invention of photography, a good cubicle photo. Don’t run photos of old people over students unless the old person is doing something embarrassing.


Kate Stringer:

1. Three rules for making a national news story relevant to campus news

2. Don’t be hesitant to use off-campus sources for a story

3. Push-back questions for the push-back questions from tough sources

4.List of unnecessary adjectives: absolutely, very, necessary, complete, amazed, startled,

5.If source has trouble articulating how they feel say “what do you find hardest to talk about?” “Why is it hard to talk about this?”


Kelsey Thomas:

1.Pick one visual focus for each page and put it towards the middle and top.

2.More white space will make the paper appear cleaner and easier to read. Negative space is positive.

3.While objectivity is important, it is okay to take charge of the story – sometimes it’s okay if the reader can tell someone is talking to them / that you feel sympathetic towards victims of a crime.

4.Don’t let your interviewing become a quote safari.

5.Working on long term issues: create data sheet / google docs


Joey Solano

1. When photographing something serious or traumatic it is good to learn how to detach yourself emotionally and focus on documenting everything in order to represent the people or places in the truest way.

2. If you’re in public you have the right to take anyone’s photo with out without asking.  Photographing a protest or riot can land you in jail but know the law is behind you.

3. Almost everyone will miss almost everything you do on social media. Work hard to get the material and get in out there.

4. For the future; Put a price on your work you deserve to be paid.

5. On networking; Reconnect with formality and purpose, do not be a stalker, and instead send them updates resumes and work you are proud of.


Katie Dunn

1. Put verbs in headlines so that people know what is going on.

2. To make game recap stories more interesting, add a feature story wrapped inside of it.

3. You have to think about different personalities and people reading your stories so they can appeal to as many people as possible.

4. When you are interviewing someone never ask a question that isn’t a question.

5. Talk about ESPNU Campus Connection.


Sarah Hansell

1. Headlines are just as important as stories because the majority of readers scan headlines and pictures and don’t read the whole story. So when writing headlines, read the whole story carefully, make the headline eye-catching, not broad, and fit the voice of your paper. You can usually pull it out from a small detail from the story, or sometimes a play on words when the story isn’t too serious.

2. Reporters, photographers and designers should communicate about their visions for the story as soon as it’s assigned. Photos and design are just as important to the story as content, especially since that’s what more readers will look at while bypassing the actual story.

3. Ask everyone you interview to record the interview! It saves you just in case a seemingly benign story gets controversial.

4. The places you want to work care about your presence on social media and the internet – not just that it’s not unprofessional, but that you have one. So start tweeting!

5. Be creative, even with hard news stories. Anecdotes and narrative arcs make stories much more engaging.
Kathryn Walters

1. Social media is the key to getting a job these days. Twitter is especially important for building your brand.

2. Details are extremely important in any story you write. Even insignificant details, like someone’s boots, you can get revealing information from.

3. Use both sides of your brain in writing stories, especially features or narratives. Look for the emotional cues.

4. Always be collecting. Constantly use your smartphone, but be careful about what you share.

5. Don’t use kitty cats or puppy dogs in writing. Make everything as concise as possible.


-Nancy Copic

Ass’t Director of Student Media, University of Portland

Read Full Post »

Cmanyc13 has drawn to a close and our brains are buzzing with hashtags, headlines and new story ideas. We got to meet social media superstars, renowned professors from across the country and fellow student journalists who have had to deal with campus controversies that received national attention. Now that it’s all over there are couple of things that are still buzzing around in my head that The Beacon should take to heart:

Did this headline grab your attention?

According to one of the session leaders, you’re probably not reading this right now. In fact, if you’re on this blog, you probably just scrolled down the page, scanned the words in bold and the photos, and if nothing was shocking enough to read further, you scrolled right on past the rest of this post. So…it remains to be seen why I’m even writing this right now…OH RIGHT, it’s for the minority of you who are “committed readers,” and the few of you scanners who are fascinated enough by my stunning headlines and photos to continue on. So, if by some miracle you’re still reading, you’ve probably gotten the gist of what I’m trying to say. Headlines are, in many cases, the only words people who pick up the newspaper read. So it’s important for headlines to be accurate and not mislead the story, and to be eye-catching and interest-sparking.

“UP installs new water fountain” is a boring headline that appears to preclude a boring story – and it seems to the reader that all the information they need to know is right there in the headline. Headlines need to feature the most interesting detail of the story, and the subheading can elaborate on what that means. “Athletes’ thirst quenched after two-year dry spell,” for example, is a slightly more interesting headline. It features two details, “athletes” and “dry spell,” the former of which would catch the attention of any athletes vested in getting a new water fountain for their fitness center. It also tells you just how long the fitness center has been without a water fountain, which might surprise some, and interest others because they’ve had to deal with the problem. In order for editors to come up with more engaging headlines like this, they need to read through the whole story and figure out what the story is, not just a summary phrase of the broadest interpretation of the story possible. Reporters work hard on stories, and it’s a disservice to them and to the paper to guarantee that no one will read their story because the headline makes readers nod off.

NY times

Beaconites in front of the NY Times building

Can I get a photo with that, please?

Most section editors are former reporters, so they often think like reporters – in terms of content, ledes, nutgraphs and word choice. The story is the most important things, photos get inserted later, and design is just a way to make the story more readable. But like I wrote earlier, most readers are scanners, so the majority of them won’t read the story, or at least all of it. Don’t be discouraged – having the whole story, and having the whole story well-written and accurate is vital. There are those that will read the whole things, especially those who are directly involved in the story. But photos and design should never be afterthoughts or fit in at the last minute because there is extra space. The photos and design will be seen by vastly more readers than will actually read the stories, so they need to be given just as much time and though. The leader of this session suggested having the photographer, designer and reporter meet as soon as the story is assigned and have a face-to-face conversation about their vision for the story. From then on, they should be in contact whenever the story morphs or changes. If a photographer goes to an event and gets a really great photo, they should notify the reporter so that they can go talk to the subject of the photos, keeping the photos and story connected. When the photographer has a very clear idea of the details of the story, they can take photos that represent the story best. Similarly, when the designer is in the loop the whole time, they can come up with a design that represents the story, showcases the photos appropriately and catches the reader’s eye. When all three are in communication throughout the entire process, they can all share input into every facet of the story and how it is presented, giving the paper a chance to be the best it possibly can be.

#buildyourbrand #getyourstoryoutthere #unnecessarilylonghashtagsareneveragoodidea

During the convention, Beaconites got the chance to meet Twitter superstar Sree Sreenivasan and VP of Twitter Mark Luckie, who made our heads spin with hashtags and the importance of building our brand. In the information age, twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets are as much a part of  your resume as your references and work experiences. Social media cannot be considered a private outlet for everything that pops into your head. Whoever you want to hire you will look at your social media presence, and if it’s unprofessional or shows that you don’t seem to fit in with the company’s mission, you’ve hurt your professional reputation and your chances of getting hired. Not only that, but having no social media presence is also a problem. Social media  is a huge part of journalism today, and being active in social media is a must. What’s more, is that having connections is vital in journalism, and with social media you can have connections with people across the world whom you may never have met. These connections can help you find stories and source, as well as make career connections. Sreenivasan talked about how having the skills to get and write the story is only half the battle. Having the skills to get the story is just as important. You could be insanely talented at getting information and interviews and writing the story, but if you can’t get the story out there, then the story you’ve covered is basically useless. Nowadays, social media and the web world are the primary platforms on which to share information. If you show, by your social media presence, that you can be successful at sharing stories and being seen, you show that you know how to get stories out there.

Mark Luckie

Beaconites with Twitter VP Mark Luckie


Cliches aside, this convention has taught us all things that we will now bring back to our work at The Beacon, having learned how to me more professional, effective journalists and create a paper that is a must-read. There’s so much more we learned…such as to use narrative arcs and anecdotes in stories to lure the reader in and create a story that really communicates the emotions of what you’re covering, instead of only reporting cold, hard and dry news. We learned so much more than we can fit into a few blog posts, but everything we learned will help push us to be better student journalists. #cmanyc13 #studentjournalist #hashtag #goodnight

-Sarah Hansell

Read Full Post »


Another day, another fifty people talking about Twitter (#hashtag #everything #now). The last series of sessions were just as helpful, and I’ve since been wandering around mumbling things about “leadership” and “freelancing” and “networking.” Strangers have been giving me a wide berth which is particularly rare in NYC. Here are a few of the session highlights:

Social Media 

Language like “putting the story to bed” leads journalists to think that once they turn in the final draft of their story, they’re done. However, if a journalist wants their story read it is partially up to them to get their story “out there” through social media. This is part of why social media presence is so important for journalists and is one of those skills that gets you hired. Here are a few of Sree’s tips concerning social media:

  • Social media can help media pros find new ideas, trends and sources, connect with readers in new and deeper ways, bring attention to their work, and help create their brands. It is important for journalists to use social media in all four ways!
  • Your twitter bio should be clear and direct in describing who you are and what you do. It should also include your email address and website.
  • Remember that every time you post on Twitter of Facebook it is a public document. Ask yourself – is this putting my best foot forward? Is this enhancing my brand?
  • Success formula for social media: post information that is helpful, useful, timely, informative, relevant, practical, actionable, generous, credible, brief, entertaining, fun and occasionally funny. All your posts have to be some of these things.

200 Story Ideas 

Repeat after me: everyone and everything has a story idea if you look hard enough. Everyone. And Everything. By being constantly curious, journalists should find new and fresh story ideas every day. Take the same old topics, such as academics and student life, and look at them in completely different ways.

I left this session an hour early to get to another, but I still left with quite a few new ideas under my belt. Weird study habits or animal cruelty in science labs, anyone?


Story Idea: dangers of public transportation?
Beacon staffers Sarah Hansell and Shellie Adams ride the subway.


Apparently color isn’t just to make things pretty (although that too!) It has the power to make readers pay attention to certain articles, feel a certain way towards these articles and even remember the articles better later. In short – it’s important. But there are a few things to keep in mind to use color affectively:

  • Use a single color at least three times for balance. 
  • When using small pops of color, go vibrant.
  • Be careful that color under text does not make the text difficult to read.
  • When you have great photography, the best way to show color is on a clean, white background.
  • Keep in mind the meanings of certain colors when pairing them with articles (ie. red = passion / excitement and yellow = sunshine / optimism)
  • Image

Journalism literacy 

Just because someone tweets something does not mean it’s true. Just because someone took the time to chart or graph something does not mean it’s true. Just because a bunch of news sources are sharing the same info does not mean it’s true. Just because it’s on a press release does not mean it’s true.

Basically – check everything out for yourself, even if it means calling people outside of your school bubble. Recognize that everyone you interview has an agenda and a bigger idea they want you to buy into, even if they are not conscious of it. Don’t just report what people say. Avoid the “he said she said” and report the truth.


Example of a true statement: The Beacon is the most read newspaper on Wall St.

I can’t decide whether I am more sad that we have to leave the conference (can’t we just stay and talk about journalism in NYC forever?!) or more excited to put all that we learned into practice. I’ve even seen several Beaconites practicing their new Twitter knowledge already!


(Yes, I screenshotted your tweets. Yes, I just invented a new word. Okay, that’s all.)

Nice work! Cheers.

– Kelsey Thomas

Read Full Post »

Times SquarePhoto by Kate Stringer

Times Square
Photo by Kate Stringer

Covering national news – call up the FBI while you’re at it

My guess is that if you’re here, it’s because you go to a small private school where nothing ever happens, and if things do happen, the administration refuses to tell you about it.

Thus began Michael Perrota’s talk on covering national news on campus. For schools like UP, hard news stories are hard to come by. So, when a national news story hits, it’s only natural to want to cover it. The trick is simply how. In order for a college campus to cover a national news story, Perrota said one of three criteria must apply:

The story is applicable to the college campus

The story is applicable to the local area

The story is applicable to the life and experiences of a college-aged student

Filling one of these three criteria is not too challenging. What is challenging is coming up with the right sources to talk about an issue. Perrota said that once you have sources that are knowledgeable on a topic in national news, the story is set.

For national news stories, sometimes the best sources will be off-campus. Perrota said there is nothing wrong with branching out to sources like lawyers, business owners, or students from local colleges if they add to a story. Newspaper clips that show reporters have put in extra effort to contact sources outside the campus will impress their future employers. Besides, Perrota pointed out, getting an interview with the FBI is a lot easier than getting an interview with a university president.

Another source to scavenge for story ideas is PEW research. Many surveys can become stories if they are about college students.

Beaconites at the conferencePhoto by Nancy Copic

Beaconites at the conference
Photo by Nancy Copic

Details, details, details

The next time I interview a source, I’m going to ask them where they got their shoes. And it’s not because I’m in need of a new pair or a creep.

By asking students in our session where they got their shoes, Rob Kaiser discovered that one student is 20 months apart from her sister, who she regards as a best friend. Random? Not if you knew that she was wearing her sister’s shoes to the conference. With this demonstration, Kaiser pointed out how important the details are to revealing people’s character.

The amount of detail in an article can make or break a story. There is a fine line between too much extraneous information that takes away from the point, and not enough detail to engage readers.

Using details in stories take readers to an angle not usually explored. Kaiser showed us an example article about Jackie Kennedy at the funeral of her husband. Rather than focusing on simply the 5 W’s, the author “zoomed-in” on a moment where Jackie struggled to take off her black glove and remove her wedding ring to place by her husband’s body. It was simple description that added a powerful component of connection to the story. The reader saw the human element in the story rather than the simple facts.

I loved this talk because it focused on the art of writing that can be added to news stories. Sometimes I find myself getting bored with a story and frustrated with the writing process because it seems so lifeless. This session gave me a new way to add life to my stories.

“Writing is really a wrestling match with yourself – it’s an act of self-discipline.” –Rob Kaiser

-Kate Stringer

A bit excited to see The New York TimesPhoto by Kathryn Walters

A bit excited to see The New York Times
Photo by Kathryn Walters

Read Full Post »

Taking notes in the fancy conference roomsPhoto by Kate Stringer

Taking notes in the fancy conference rooms
Photo by Kate Stringer

A news reporter walks into a magazine publishing house

What do bike locks, chicken piccata, and coach purses have in common?

All are photographed, written about, and published in magazine form in a 44-floor glass building in Manhattan: Hearst Tower.

Want a view of central park from the 44th floor of Hearst tower? You're welcome.Photo by Kate Stringer

Want a view of central park from the 44th floor of Hearst tower? You’re welcome.
Photo by Kate Stringer

Kathryn and I woke up at 6 a.m. to get spots in a tour of Hearst Tower, home of magazines like Marie Claire, Popular Mechanics, and House Beautiful. Hearst Corporation owns 20 magazines in the U.S. as well as cable networks, newspapers and real estate. It also has an exciting escalator fountain entryway in its lobby.

Yes, that is an escalator going up a water fountainPhoto by Kate Stringer

Yes, that is an escalator going up a water fountain
Photo by Kate Stringer

Eliot Kaplan, the executive director of talent acquisition at Hearst magazine, gave us a tour of the many floors of Hearst tower. Fun facts: Cosmopolitan is on the top floor because it makes the most money and Seventeen magazine is located on the 17th floor…for obvious reasons.

Iphone photos 413

Solemn executive boardroom on the 44th floor

Good Housekeeping magazine involves more than a writing and marketing team. A testing team analyzes products advertised in the magazine and gives them a “Good Housekeeping” seal of insurance. If a product breaks or a consumer is unsatisfied, Good Housekeeping will refund it. A shame-case marks infamous products that were once given the Good Housekeeping seal that turned out to be not-so good products, like diet snacks that made the user gain weight and flammable children’s Halloween costumes (would NOT like to know the story behind that one). Pillows, towels, and mixers are all tested in Hearst tower. There’s even a room with climate controls that runs tests on both refrigerators and anti-frizz gels for hair.

Every recipe in Good Housekeeping is tested 3 times in these kitchens before it can make the pagePhoto by Kate Stringer

Every recipe in Good Housekeeping is tested 3 times in these kitchens before it can make the page
Photo by Kate Stringer

While Good Housekeeping was lovely, a more age-appropriate tour was waiting for us on the 34th floor. Marie Claire, a magazine for 20-30 year olds, was filled with clothing, bulletin boards of fashion samples, and…20-30 year old employees!

I found the young age of the employees to be both encouraging and upsetting. Encouraging because it meant that the industry doesn’t require 50 years of freelancing to land a permanent job. Terrifying because the editors informed us that every employee has had many internships before entering the field. Try not to panic.

Cubicles of Marie ClairePhoto by Kate Stringer

Cubicles of Marie Claire
Photo by Kate Stringer

We talked with the Fashion Features Editor, Katie Connor, and Executive Editor, Riza Cruz.  They were interested in learning about our education, interests and experiences, which I found very encouraging. However, when talking about their own journey into the journalism world, they both used words like fortunately, luckily and miraculously to describe how they landed jobs. These words were not so comforting. Many times landing a job seems to depend on who you know. The importance of networking is something I’ll definitely take away from this conference.

Magazines 3.0

Keynote address by Jason WagenheimPhoto by Kate Stringer

Keynote address by Jason Wagenheim
Photo by Kate Stringer

Whoever believes magazines are dying needs to talk to the publisher of Teen Vogue, Jason Wagenheim.  While many magazines were folding a few years ago, Teen Vogue was one of two magazines with a teenager audience to survive the plague.

Jason shared how magazines can utilize business models other than the subscriber, newsstand, advertiser. TeenVogue embraced the onset of mobile phones and internet to draw in their teenage audience. They have a presence on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. They have apps like teenvogue me girl which allows girls to dress models and get ratings for how well their outfits match. Jason said this app reached 600,000 downloads after the first week! Additionally, pages in the magazines can be scanned by iphones to get special features not included in print.

Back to School Saturday, or #BTSS, was an event Jason hoped would become comparable to Black Friday. By soliciting stores to have discounted prices on August 11, 2012, and encouraging readers to go shopping and hashtagging, BTSS was a success for both advertisers and the magazine. As Jason said, “We invented a holiday. I haven’t felt like this since Jesus created Easter.”

The beautiful buildings of NYCPhoto by Kate Stringe

The beautiful buildings of NYC
Photo by Kate Stringe

News reporters make the best magazine writers

If you want to argue with that subheading, talk to Mark Mayfield, former reporter for USA Today and editor of several magazines. Mayfield showed how the skills of accuracy and getting work in on a deadline are highly valued in the magazine world.

Mayfield compared magazine writing to feature writing in newspapers. However, instead of sticking solely to facts, writers get to tell the story with more space and more voice.

To be successful in the magazine industry, Mayfield recommends finding one topic you love and learning as much as you can about it. A lot of magazine writing today is done by freelancers rather than a hired staff. To get a feature published, writers should send in a cover letter explaining what you want to write about and why you would be good at writing this particular story as well as several published writing clips.

-Kate Stringer

Read Full Post »

Day Three at CMANYC13 arrived even faster than it took the College of Cardinals to elect a new pope! Each day was so chock full of sessions that the hours just seemed to fly by. And before we knew it, we were flying back to Portland ourselves!

The first session I attended was about reporting sensitive issues on campus, which I thought would be a good idea to learn about, what with this nondiscrimination policy business on campus. You never know when something little could blow up as big as the nondiscrimination policy issue, so I was ready to get some pointers on how to better cover stories like these. The presenter, Baris Mumyakmaz, a Turkish national who attended university in the U.S. but works for a publication in Turkey that seeks to expose underreported issues in the country, did his best, but the whole presentation was a bit awkward considering I was one of three people there, and the others sort of kept coming and going throughout the presentation. I felt really bad for him, and unfortunately his presentation wasn’t that groundbreaking in terms of tips on how to report sensitive issues on campus. But I did think one thing he said was useful: always have your text, headline and picture be a cohesive package. This would require greater communication between the reporter, designer and photographer at The Beacon, but I think it would make our paper even more awesome!

Luckily, the second session I attended was amazing! The title alone “The Undertaker Takes His Coffee Black (and Drives a Hearse with 71,000 Miles on It)” intrigued me, so of course I had to go! The session, taught by Rob Kaiser of Canisius College, was about keeping an eye out for detail as a journalist, even the insignificant ones, like someone’s boots. Seeming irrelevant details like these could give you more information about a source than you ever dreamed possible. In the beginning of the session, he asked a girl where she got her boots, and after asking her a few questions, learned that she and her sister, who are 20 months apart, are best friends. Who would have thought you could have learned such a personal detail about someone from their footwear? During the session, Rob had us free write a description of our childhood bedroom, and by going around the room and asking some students about their bedrooms, he was able to learn really personal details about each of those students. As Rob put it, “You have a zoom lens on your consciousness. Use it.” His session got me really excited to write more features, so I can try out this detail-oriented approach!

Mark Luckie, manager of journalism and news at TWITTER, of all places, gave the keynote address for Tuesday. He came to offer his insights on how to be a better Twitter user. SAM_0287

Before his talk, I never gave much thought to how people may perceive me on Twitter, but Mark made it clear that people can now judge you based on how often you tweet/what you tweet/how your Twitter page looks/who you follow/who follows you. So much to think about now! Especially as a current and future member of the media, I really need to be aware of how Twitter can even affect my job prospects. Mark said that “Twitter is a great equalizer.” By this, he meant that even though you may not be the most bubbly, extraverted person in real life, you can still have a major presence online through Twitter and other social media websites.

That pretty much concluded CMANYC13! I am so happy and grateful to have had the opportunity to attend such an exciting and informative conference. I am so stoked to apply everything that I have learned to my work at The Beacon! This conference has taught me that the world of media is so much larger and complicated than I could have ever realized, and that real opportunities are out there for anyone who wants them and will work hard to achieve them. My hope is that before too long, there will be a place for me in that world. Now, back to business…

~Kathryn Walters

Read Full Post »

Day Two at the CMANYC conference once again started early, but luckily, a bit more brightly since we didn’t have to worry about getting in line for media tours. This morning, Kate and I didn’t attend any regular sessions because we went on a tour of Hearst Tower!



Hearst Tower is the world headquarters of the Hearst Corporation, founded by the famous media magnate William Randolph Hearst. It owns magazines like Good Housekeeping, Marie Claire, Esquire, and Harper’s Bazaar. But that’s not all. It owns cable networks like ESPN and newspapers like the San Francisco Chronicle.

Citizen Kane, more than loosely based on the life of Hearst, is one of my favorite movies of all time, so needless to say, I was completely stoked to be visiting the headquarters of this great company. Our first stop on the tour was by the office of Good Housekeeping magazine, which I was not super excited about at the moment, since I am not a girl who likes to clean and cook and be the best housekeeper in the world. I don’t think I will ever fit into that mold. However, the office was a lot more interesting than I anticipated. There were all these cool labs where they test each product they put in the magazine, from vacuums and anti-frizz serums to pasta sauce and laundry detergent. I think the tour guide said they test each recipe three times to make sure it works before they even put it in the magazine. Now that’s dedication!

Next up was a tour of the very top floor, where all the fancy executives, including members of the Hearst family, run the company. Of course, it was all very swanky with all this expensive art on the wall and fancy furniture and top-notch views of Central Park and the rest of the city. I felt like such a VIP.

Our final stop was at the office of Marie Claire magazine. I had such a 13 Going on 30 moment/The Devil Wears Prada moment in that office. I half-expected Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly to come gliding around the corner and cast a disdainful glare in our direction. The office looked like what you would think a magazine office would look like, but there definitely was a fashion closet and a make-up closet, and everyone was so fashionable. After our group got walked around the office (I peeked over a worker’s shoulder and saw that she was using Adobe InDesign to lay out a page for the magazine), we were ushered into a conference room where three different editors came in to talk to us about what it’s like to work at Marie Claire, how they got to the positions they are in now, and how the magazine world, and by extension, the whole of media has changed. I was especially impressed by Katie Connor, the Fashion Features Editor, who holds such a high position in the editorial realm at such a young age. She looked like she couldn’t have been more than 26 or 27, and she owed her early success to having many internships before she entered the job market. This made me a little uneasy, since I don’t have much internship experience to speak of, but that is something I am working to change right now.


The hallowed offices of Marie Claire magazine. Does it look straight out of Devil Wears Prada or what?


The three women emphasized the importance of fostering connections in the workplace, because the magazine world is so incestuous and everyone knows each other. A connection you made a few years ago could potentially lead to a job offer down the line. Another tip they had was to “be the person who fixes the copy machine.” By this, they meant that you need to find little ways to make yourself indispensible to whoever you work for that set you apart. Because I am really interested in magazine writing as a potential career path, I took every word they said to heart. After seeing the offices of both Good Housekeeping and Marie Claire, I can picture myself in that type of work environment, which I think is suited to my personality. Now, the next step is to get some experience! Easier said than done, for sure.

With our free copies of the March issue of Marie Claire in hand (we didn’t know if we were allowed to take them out of the office, but we did anyway. So rebellious!), Kate and I trekked back to the hotel and arrived a tad late for the keynote address by Jason Wagenheim, vice president and publisher of Teen Vogue magazine.  He was a very flamboyant personality, to say the least, but he had a lot of interesting things to say about the print magazine industry and made it all very entertaining. Some fun facts from his presentation: Sex and the City made high fashion accessible to the public, big events are key to the success of any publication (like the Vanity Fair Oscar Party and Teen Vogue’s Back to School Saturday), and always do your homework on any company you would like to join one day.

After this, I attended a session about Writing with Voice in Narrative, taught by David Simpson, who also taught the Tough Interview session form Sunday. Developing my own voice as a writer is incredibly important to me as I grow more confident in my reporting. David suggested some easy solutions to the “stranglers:” fear, inadequate reporting, excessive objectivity, and limited time. These “stranglers” often keep a reporter from showing his or her own voice in a story, especially in a feature or narrative format. His remedies: read good writing ALL THE TIME, practice makes perfect, “fail faster” so you can get better faster, ask about SCENES so you can better paint a picture for the reader, and above all, trust your gut! If you have an emotional response to something a source says, chances are, so will your audience. The best way to put this is to use both sides of your brain in reporting. Yes, you should be analyzing facts, but you should also search for emotional cues that have the potential to take your story from average to amazing.

The showcase today was by a man named Sree Sreenivasan, a digital media guru who works at Columbia University. Within the first five minutes, my mind just exploded from all the social media tips he threw at us, from different websites to “name-checking” everyone on Twitter to following your ABC’s as a journalist: Always Be Collecting pictures and info with your smart phone or laptop. Sree says, be hashtag happy! The more blue your Tweets have in them, the better. At one point, Sree declared himself a Hindu priest of the Catholic Church, and made us get up out of our chairs, take pictures of his Social Media Success formula, all while chanting this formula together. Who knew social media could be such a religious experience?!

That pretty much concludes Day Two of the convention. Will Day Three be as crazy awesome? Stay tuned to find out!


What a coincidence! Stumbling upon The New York Times in New York City of all places! 😉

~Kathryn Walters

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »