Archive for March, 2016


Our Beacon group looking out over Manhattan after walking across the Brooklyn Bridge.

by Malika Andrews |

The media industry has always relied heavily on personal interaction, whether it’s the television news anchor with the sparkly white smile or the local paperboy dropping off the morning edition on the doorstep every morning.

But media conferences can often be impersonal and formal, with many people trying to listen to a single speaker in a classroom-type setting. In that environment, it can be difficult to build the connections that an anchor has with his or her audience or even that a Facebook user might have with his or her friend when they share articles.


Clare and I visited the New York Times Building on Friday. I am excited to go back and spend time with the NYT editors next week!

This year was my second year in a row attending the College Media Association (CMA) conference in New York and it was my third media conference with The Beacon. My goal this year was to make the most of the conference experience while also seeking out the personal side that drives the industry. My week in New York showed me that one-on-one interaction is more crucial than ever to aspiring media personalities.

On my second day in New York, I walked into the Wall Street Journal building to meet Miriam, a 33-year-old financial reporter who I met through a friend with whom I covered Portland Trail Blazers. Miriam toured me around the building and introduced my to the WSJ’s Pulitzer prize-winning sports editor. Although he had never seen my work or met me before, he told me he was impressed that I had made the effort to come visit and he gave me his card. We’ve been emailing back and forth since, proving that going the extra mile (or 6,000 miles round-trip) to get face time can really make a difference.


Cheyenne, Ben, Clare, and I after placing second in the Apple Awards for best newspaper for schools under 5,000 students.

I‘m learning that making the extra effort is what sets you apart in the media industry. I set meetings with five different journalists in my seven days in the city and spent time in three different newsrooms and television stations, which helped expose me to even more aspects of the industry. Spending time at Sports Illustrated made me realize that working for them — something that I have dreamed about since I was a kid — is within my reach.


Clare Duffy (left) and I on the set of The Today Show.

The CMA conference sessions were informative and one of the speakers, Byron Pitts of ABC News, offered moving words about the opportunities that each of us in attendance have. He told us that he believed “with every fiber of my being, that each of you has the ability to change the wold.” That really made me think about the network I have built and the doors it has opened for me. More than that, if and when I make it, I am obligated to give back and give someone else a door into industry. Looking back, though, I think that the most valuable part of the experience in New York was walking around the city, shaking hands with working media professionals, and seeing how and where the news gets made. As I made a conscious effort not to look up at the skyscrapers (a dead giveaway you’re a tourist) and walk quickly, in pace with the city, I couldn’t help but feel an intense sense of belonging. The information I took from the conference was helpful, but the personal connections I made were truly inspiring.

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Susman is showing us the belt she hid $800 in, which helped her escape after she was kidnapped. On the screen is a photo of her celebrating after getting free.

Susman shows us the belt she hid $800 in, which helped her escape after she was kidnapped. On the screen is a photo of her celebrating after getting free.

by Clare Duffy |

Many people, when you tell them you want to be a journalist, look at you like you’ve just grown a second head.

Even more people, when you tell them you want to be a foreign correspondent, look at you like you’ve grown a third.

And the majority of people, when you tell them that a former foreign correspondent’s story of being kidnapped on the job and talking her way out of it made you excited, will look at you with the half-confused, half-sympathetic smile of someone who’s just realized the person they’ve been talking to doesn’t actually speak English, and shuffle away.

Welcome to many an uncomfortable family dinner I’ve attended in recent years.

But it’s true, and Tina Susman’s presentation about her career as a foreign correspondent was thus truly the cherry on top of my CMA 2016 experience.

What had once seemed such a foreign and far-off goal for my future (no pun intended), became so vividly real and tangible, as she recounted memories of a harrowing drive through the Kashmir Mountains and wandering in disguise through the streets of Baghdad.

Not a great photo, but on the screen (left) is Susman dressed as an Iraqi woman standing next to an older Iraqi woman she met on the street.

Not a great photo, but on the screen (left) is Susman dressed as an Iraqi woman standing next to an older Iraqi woman she met on the street.

And beyond the wild experiences she had had and the horrible things she had seen, Susman spoke of the goodness of many of the people she encountered along the way, and this truly hit at the heart of why I want to be a journalist abroad. People who speak different languages helping one another to make sure marginalized voices are heard, people of vastly disparate backgrounds coming together to promote the spread of truth in times of crisis, this power for social good that journalism allows has driven me in this direction. And in every sad or upsetting or infuriating story she told, these bits shined through – the translator who helped her when she knew no one after being sent on a last-minute assignment to cover the earthquake in Haiti, the hotel bellman who aided in her escape after being kidnapped in Somalia, the other foreign journalists living abroad whom she would invite over for tea in the midst of an often chaotic work environment.

I’m not sure where I’ll end up when I leave school and can stop pretending to devote my resources to anything other than journalism (just kidding, Mom), but I hope that wherever I am, I’ll be able to speak with the humble candor and genuine appreciation for the experiences that Susman exuded during her presentation. And that I, too, will be so willing to help and encourage young journalists that I’ll stay an hour beyond my allotted presentation time to answer their questions.

Thank you, Tina.

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Clare and Malika: The next Kathie and Hoda?

Clare and Malika: The next Kathie and Hoda?

by Clare Duffy |

Networking: A word that strikes fear into the hearts of many, mine included.

Until I discovered that “networking,” when done properly, is really just a fancy way of saying, “talking with smart, passionate people about things that you love” – that doesn’t sound half bad, does it? Not to mention that building a network is crucial in the journalism industry: people who are also new to the trade and seasoned vets, people in a variety of different positions and specialties, people who can give you advice and to whom you can offer something as well.

All this we’d been working on since our first professional conference experience at ONA15 in September. And it came in handy just hours after we’d touched down in New York for CMA16 and were talking about everything from marriage to interviewing Oprah with an editor from Ebony Magazine.

Making these kinds of connections is all about putting yourself out there, keeping them is all about maintaining relationships without always asking for something and you can take advantage of them when you’re in their city and take them for coffee or visit their newsroom.

The view from the Time Inc. building at sunset.

The view from the Time Inc. building at sunset.

While we were in New York, we visited the Washington Post, Sports Illustrated and the Today Show, and had coffee with reporters at CBS and International Business Journal. When it comes to setting up these sorts of meetings, don’t be afraid to ask – people generally like talking about what they do and showing younger journalists the ropes. But, also be extra gracious and thankful, as they are no doubt pushing back a deadline or extending their workday for you.

Behind the scenes at the Today Show.

Behind the scenes at the Today Show.

In each of these meetings, there were several common pieces of advice:

  1. Seek out and appreciate good editors.
  2. Respect the learning process and don’t try to jump too far too fast without a solid foundation.
  3. It’s all about who you know, so keep making and maintaining these kinds of connections (you never know where they might take you).

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“Deadlines and Dilemmas: Media Ethics on the Job”

From Rebecca Taylor

by Cheyenne Schoen


It is important to be ethical when working in the media because…

  • Reporters, even early in their careers, have significant power.
  • Reporters, even rookies, enjoy significant autonomy in the field.
  • Reporters, even rookies, have great discretion to make editorial decisions.
  • Reporters operate under tight deadlines.

The consequences of being unethical in reporting can include:

  • Job loss
  • Career loss
  • Impact on news organization
  • Impact on the subject
  • Impact on the profession


  • When dealing with the survivors of victims, knock once or twice and then leave a business card. Most survivors want to have the chance to say something about their loved ones, and will likely call you when they can.
  • Figure out what footage you can get or angles or perspectives you can take that other news stations don’t have.
  • Reporters must be able to shoot and edit video.
  • If you are unsure if something is acceptable to air, run it by your editor and ask if they are okay with it.
  • Be able to express your sentiment with covering certain stories that you may feel differently about than your editors.
  • You’ll be asked to conceal information a lot – don’t do it for favoritism.
  • Always keep your editors informed about what is going on.
  • If you are using footage from your archives, you must indicate that it is footage from the archives.

Duties as journalists:

You have a duty to be fair and accurate, honest, to avoid conflict of interests and to minimize harm.

Your duties are owed to: your profession, readers (audience), employers, the source and society.

Questionable reporting techniques:

  • Hidden mics/cameras
  • Reenactments
  • Faking natural sound (such as an ambulance)
  • Video deception
  • Improper editing

Minors’ names should not be published without the consent of their legal guardians. Likewise, the victims of sexual assault should not be named or described in a way that reveals their identity.

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Rachel Rippetoe


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The only reason I went to Larry Buchanan’s session on coding, mapping and reporting was because of the phrase “at the New York Times” attached to the end of its title.

I’ve always loved finding free templates for things like graphs, timelines, and calendars on the internet because they make me feel smart and techy without having to actually do much work, but coding felt like it belonged in the scary dark side of the web right next to hacking and Bitcoin. It was jumbled up letters and numbers that I didn’t understand and was always mildly terrified of. But then I saw the work that Larry did for The New York Times… and I knew it was something I had to learn.

As I’m writing this blog post, I’m struggling with how to describe the things he showed us accurately, and it just occurred to me that I can’t. The point is that the stuff Larry does is uniquely digital. It tells a story in a way that can’t be told in print. It takes you to the arctic and shows you exactly what the melting glaciers look like (in HD). It shows you every single home that was foreclosed in Detroit during the housing recession and it adds up all the money that was lost. It highlights every single crack (I am not exaggerating) that was recovered in a famous but decrepit church in New York City.

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The craziest thing: He does it in 15 seconds or less. No long article to read, no 3 minute video to listen to; all you have to do is scroll. Which, according to Larry, is what every American loves to do now: scroll. The analytics show that they don’t click on things and they don’t finish articles, but they can scroll through a feed and look at stuff for HOURS.

In theory, Larry should scare the shit out of me. As a person who loves to write and tell stories through her words and other people’s words, I feel like this guy has me beat. I mean some of his pieces didn’t even need an anchor paragraph let alone full written stories. The ones that did had the articles attached at the very bottom.

Yet Larry isn’t replacing us he’s supplementing us. He’s taking a boring local story about recovering an old church, one I probably wouldn’t read, and making it into an art piece I’d tell my mom about and anyone else who might listen.

I was sitting on my hands trying not to jump out of my seat as The New York Times graphic designer showed us all the work he and his team produced. This kind of stuff is perfect. It silences all the nay-sayers that say real journalism and real reporting are dying. It’s visually interesting and engaging but at the same time requires some real reporting too.

The most exciting thing about Larry is that he isn’t some highly functioning tech wizard. He wasn’t a computer science major in college. He studied journalism and taught himself how to code, thinking it would make him some money free-lancing. He never could’ve guessed it would eventually get him a desk and a byline at The New York Times.

I decided after listening to him speak, hearing about what he does, and seeing what he does, I want to be a Larry. I want to delve into the deep scary world of coding because no online template can produce the kind of visual art that Larry produces.

Here are some online tools and programs he told us about for coding, mapping, and learning how to code. The New York Times actually uses a lot of them.

For coding: (the obvious ones) HTML/CSS/Javascript, GA-Dash (for learning how to code, Raw, R (he calls this one scary but powerful), Quartz Chart Builder (for graphs)

For mapping: QGIS, Mapbox, Tilemill, Natural Earth, and Open Street Map

Other advice: focus on formatting for phones and tablets because that is what your readers are more likely to be using. Similarly, cut vertical videos for mobile phones so that readers don’t have to flip their device. Also, when working with data and interactive digital media, use google docs for a spread sheet instead of Excel because Excel doesn’t transfer as well to anything.

Here’s the website he showed during the session with all the samples I saw of his work. Be sure to check out the visuals he added to the Justin Bieber and Skrillex video the NYT put out a while back. (Bieber says some dumb stuff about music)

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Ben Arthur|

It’s been a whirlwind of an adventure in New York! From the amazing tours, to the sightseeing, to the delicious (and often overpriced) food, it’s been a trip to remember.

Although I am sad to see the conference come to an end, I’m grateful for the opportunity to have learned so much about journalism in a three-day span. Honestly, there was NO better way to top off all that that I learned than with one last session about the different journalism-friendly apps and websites available that I can utilize back on the Bluff!

I highly encourage all Beacon staffers and aspiring journalists to check out all these cool tools:IMG_2347


  • Snaplight- Gives you the ability to highlight text in screenshots. Super useful if you see cool quotes in articles that you want to share!
  • TapeACall- For $7.99/year, you can record your calls. Can come in handy for those of you that struggle with transcribing phone interviews. I know I do at times. Just be sure to ask permission before you start recording! 
  • PCM recorder- Audio recording app
  • Skype recorder- Records skype calls
  • AudioNote- Allows user to take notes while recording audio
  • Reuters TV- Makes it easy to customize your own news broadcast
  • Snapseed- photo editing app (Google)
  • Oneshot- Highlights area of texts from screenshots (Similar to Snaplight)
  • Giphycam- Creates ‘gifts’ that you an include with your tweets and other social media postings
  • Hyperlapse- Creates time lapse videos (if you don’t already have the built-in feature in your phone)
  • Bubbli- Creates panoramic/360 images
  • Printicular- Allows you to print pics straight from your phone
  • EverNote- You can save just about anything in this app. Photos, files, videos, links, you name it.
  • Instapaper- Any cool or interesting articles that you found browsing on the internet that you want to save for later? This app is the one for you


  • Otranscribe.com- As reporters, the tediousness of transcribing interviews is not new to us. This website helps you to streamline that process 
  • rapportive.com- Displays all of the email sender’s social media profiled (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)

These are just a few of the many that stood out to me! The complete list can be found in the slideshow at this link.


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Ben Arthur|

IMG_2329When I got off the subway, I couldn’t contain my excitement of being in Manhattan. It was my first time being in the city in nearly 10 years.

As I scurried up the steps and looked towards the sky as I emerged above ground, my jaw dropped. NYC was more amazing than what I remembered!

The high-rise buildings seem to brush against sky. Central Park is in one direction. I whipped my head in the other towards Times square, its bright lights radiating in every which-way.

One of the hardest things for me to fathom about Manhattan is that it is truly a city that never sleeps! It’s non-stop. Everyone always seems to have somewhere they need to be.

Strangely enough, I began comparing to this phenomenon to what you see in sports. In many different sports, game action comes quickly and with a blink of an eye, you can miss key plays (think basketball or volleyball). How in the world are you supposed to keep up with everything?

This is where the first CMA session I went to comes into play: Tweeting Live Sports

As a Sports Reporter, I got great tips about how to do game coverage like a pro. Here are some of the takeaways I got from the lecture:

  • Tweeting is live coverage; Multi-way communication, so don’t forget to interact with followers
  • Tweeting should be your observations from the game or sporting event (Story ideas can come from these observations!)
  • Don’t just tell your followers what’s happening, SHOW THEM (video, images, graphics,etc.)
  • Reporters should tweet during the game with their account, the main sports account or main news outlet account should only  RT the most important developments
  • Know the hashtags of opposing teams & use them (to get their followers, duh!)
  • Know the twitter accounts of all the coaches & players and @ them in tweets that involve them (You can get some of their followers if they RT you)
  • If you can’t answer why you’re posting a certain tweet, than it’s unnecessary!

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A recap of CMA NYC ’16 day one lecture from Henry John Latta
By Cheyenne Schoen

It’s my first time in New York, and from the first step off the metro I’m in awe of its grandeur and dazzled by its vibrancy. The city pulses with life, because the city is full of lives. A whopping 27,857 people fill this city per square mile, which is about the number of people that lived in my entire hometown. Talk about culture shock!

With all these people going about their busy lives around me, I can’t help but think that each new face has a wealth of stories behind it — struggles, strifes, accomplishments, talents, fears. I want to know each person’s story, to ask them questions and get at the heart of who they truly are.

Luckily, my first workshop of CMA NYC 2016 helped me with that! It taught me how to maximize my interviews in order to get to the important stuff.

Here are a few take-aways:

1. Don’t do long introductions or explanations before asking questions.
Trying to impress your interviewee with your personal accomplishments or prior knowledge of the topic? Don’t. Unless what you’re explaining has to do with the question, it’s best to leave these things out of the questioning process. The entangled intro “sets the stage for a loose encounter”, where the interviewee will realize you’re not as efficient as you could be.
2. Beware of adequacy and safety.
A certain amount of push is involved with interviewing. Don’t stick to the safe questions! There is a balance between attacking someone and asking questions that get you absolutely nowhere. Find a way to be professional and ask certain questions and don’t be timid about asking them.
3. Don’t ask two questions in one.
I’m definitely guilty of this! Asking two questions “leads to either one of two non-answers”. Ask them separately. Two-in-ones signal to the interviewee that you’re not engaging in a particularly sharp exchange. Instead, ask hard, clear questions.
4. Understand the PR-person behind the subject.
Be aware of what your interviewee may have been told by their PR person. Lots of interviewees have agendas. Try to know what their agenda/priority is so you can recognize their avoidance of your questions and address that avoidance later.
5. Ask follow-up questions!
Know when you need to ask a follow-up. These should be carefully thought-out, crafted questions. Be aware of what people are saying to you as they answer so you can bring their answers up again later on in the interview. You have a “built-in bullshit meter”. Allow that to guide your interview, and ask questions like, “What do you mean by that? How is that so? Can you give me some specific examples of that?”
6. Don’t rely too heavily on digital equipment.
Interviews are old-fashioned tools. Interviewing is a “performance art”, where you and the interviewee are “on stage in a naked situation” (naked…meaning somewhat vulnerable). Phones can transcribe and record, but they can’t ask the questions for you.
7. What do you hear?
Focus on the small nuances of the interviewee. Examples: When someone hesitates with an answer, are you hearing the bits and pieces that might lead to a different story?
8. The leading question: To be avoided, except when it isn’t
Leading questions are potentially unethical, but depending on the situation, they must be asked sometimes.
9. Cross-examination
How do you frame the question so you can get the most out of your interviewee? Do you ask a soft or a hard question? You must be agile in guaging your interviewee’s responses and understand what communication techniques to use to get the most out of them.
10. The curse of the sideline reporter
The public thinks sideline reporters are very good journalists because they are not pushing or probing and they are also very likeable and popular. There is an expectation for all reporters to be like sideline reporters, and while it may work for them, it isn’t necessarily good interviewing in a news situation.
11. Entry points
List of questions you bring to an interview is simply a guideline, and can be adjusted depending on how the interview veers. There is no reason a story can’t change. If we stick to the lines of questioning, the interviewee will know and see what’s coming. Look for different entry points to the story or else you could leave something important behind.
12. There is no such thing as a boring interview subject
Don’t let your guard down, even with what you think are the less important interviews. Get from everyone the best quotes you can. Any one-on-one interview will teach you as much as the next.
13. You are the equal of the person you are talking to.
There is no need to be timid, or to feel that you are the “second person”. As a professional journalist, you are doing a professional job and so are they. Some people are cautious or overly respectful, which leads to a passive approach.
14. Fear interviewer’s remorse.
Think: “When I go back and type this transcript, will I have enough for the headline, quotes, story, etc. ?” If you have writer’s block, you haven’t come back with enough material. To avoid interviewer’s remorse, ask: “What did you mean by that? Could you give me some examples?”
15. Be nice, be fair, be sensitive.
If someone is uncomfortable, react to that in a fair and sensitive manner. There is no reason why one can’t back off something if there is distress or discomfort during an interview. It is part of our professional role ethically to back off in this case.
16. Don’t ignore the trivial ramblings of an interviewee.
The little tidbits said by the interviewee can be tremendously revealing about a person, especially for writing a feature or profile. “Little stuff can be just as valuable as the bigger stuff.”
17. Know-nothing situations: Own them!
If you have no idea what the interviewee does, tell them that! Ask them to explain it simply. It will show them that your wheels are turning and it will help you to understand the situation fully.
18. Always end with a, “Hey, if I need more, can I call you back?”
Allows you to go back and get the facts if you see there is something you didn’t get the first time.

19. Be prepared for someone to criticize your work.

They have their own area to protect. Be prepared to stand your ground, but in order to do this, you must be sure you did a thorough reporting job on the story.cmanyc16

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