Archive for December, 2013

A recent issue of The Beacon featured a front page story about students using “Molly” (the drug).

Visually, it was challenging for the news/design editors because photo options were limited. Most of the students quoted in the story were granted anonymity, so photos of them were out of the question. What the students came up with and how they did it was impressive. Ingredients: Tums, Super Glue and string. And Photoshop magic. See how they did it below:

Screen shot 2013-10-30 at 5.48.06 PM

Step 1: Take a handful of Tums.IMG_4651

Step 2: Beacon News Editor Sarah Hansell uses superglue to attach individual Tums to end of a string to create cascading effect.IMG_4668




Step 3: Sarah and Ass’t Design Editor Emily Strocher arrange pile of Tums for main portion of photo cutout. Design Editor Shellie Adams photographs the process.IMG_4659IMG_4662

Step 4: Take multiple photos of Tums suspended on a string. Work some Photoshop magic and… Presto!

Screen shot 2013-10-30 at 5.48.06 PMNicely, done, Team Beacon!

-Nancy Copic , Beacon adviser & Ass’t Director of Student Media

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Social media advice from the pros

At the conference in New Orleans, I went to a few sessions on using social media more effectively. As the opinions editor/social media manager at The Beacon, I tend to spend more time on the opinions page than with social media, and I am admittedly not the biggest social media junky out there. So it was really good to hear some concrete tips for college newspapers trying to increase web presence, which I’ll be making efforts to implement next semester. Some of the tips I found most useful were:

  • Be aware of your audience: Young people are on Twitter, while Facebook appeals more to adults.
  • Even news organizations should be talking with their audience rather than at their audience.
  • People are far more likely to follow links if they see a photo.
  • To engage better on Facebook, ask people questions they can answer in the comments.

I think the most important social media lesson I learned – and the one we struggle with the most at The Beacon – is that it’s vital to stay active and consistent on Facebook and Twitter. Next semester, I plan to be more regular about when I post. Because we publish weekly, I have a tendency to tweet a bunch of stories on Thursday, and then The Beacon’s social presence wanes throughout the week. But reversing this trend is a nice goal for The Beacon, and I think it’s totally doable.


-Philip Ellefson, Opinions Editor of The Beacon

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Looking back on my time in New Orleans is a bit difficult because the sheer volume of things I experienced is so great. On the one hand, the National College Media Convention was a dense barrage of new information about writing, reporting, photography, editing, social media – the list goes on. But every time I had the chance to rest my mind, I would walk out into New Orleans, which during Halloween season is a bombardment of bright lights, live music and outrageous costumes. The whole weekend fluctuated between mental overload and sensory overload. But in a good way.

One of the sessions that really stood out to me from the conference (mostly because I’m a huge nerd for writing in any form) was called “Writing Visually.” A photographer and a news writer led the session, outlining principles that are central to both written journalism and photojournalism. The basic idea is this hierarchy of traits in photography:

  1. Informational
  2. Graphically appealing
  3. Emotional
  4. Intimate

Basically, the argument was that these characteristics are just as applicable to news writing. Most important, or course, is information – each story needs to answer the who, what, when, where, why and how questions. The next step is for writing to sound nice and flow well. This should also be achievable in all stories. Emotion is not always possible in journalism – sometimes our job is just to present information to the public. But when stories can connect to readers’ emotions, they tend to have more impact. Finally, the best stories are intimate, meaning they can present a person, place or event in a way that most people will never be able to see.

-Philip Ellefson, Opinions Editor of The Beacon

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