After 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:
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.
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?”
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ass’t Director of Student Media, University of Portland