The first session of the day focused on a topic nearly all college newspapers have covered —sexual assault. The presenter gave guidelines for reporting on such a topic, illustrated the importance of covering sexual assault on college campuses, and highlighted flaws in how some colleges handle sexual assault. The presenter mentioned several times that before he interviews a victim of sexual assault, he encourages the person to talk with counselors and parents to ensure he or she truly wants to make his or her story known and that in 10 or 15 years, the person won’t regret having told the story.
One of the main takeaways from this session related to a previous session that spoke of journalists serving their campuses and protecting them. The presenter in today’s panel focused on one university in Ohio that didn’t issue crime reports even though five sexual assaults had occurred on campus. After investigating the matter and running a series on it that exposed the university’s reluctance to publish the reports, the university began publishing them three days after the newspaper’s series finished. Because of the newspaper’s reporting, the students at that university became more aware of dangers on their campus.
The most interesting point was the presenter’s observation that university judicial review boards that make rulings on crimes, such as rape, on campus, are ill-prepared to make such decisions and are unfair to both the accused and the accuser. He also emphasized his view that there should not be a special set of rules for crimes on college campuses and that as a result, crimes should be reported to the city, not campus, police in order to ensure the most fairness for all parties involved. The ideas discussed during the session were thought-provoking, as they were relevant to many campuses across the nation.
“F.B.I. Strategies for Interviewing,” the next session, was fascinating because it raised points that seem so simple but apparently help greatly in getting a source to provide more information. The presenter noted that all of the F.B.I.’s interview strategies are psychological and fairly basic. Two of the most interesting techniques included mirroring a source’s body posture and joining. By mirroring someone’s body posture, he or she is 30% more likely to provide more information and have a longer conversation. “Joining” means being empathetic to the source and showing that “I see it from your perspective for two seconds,” as the presenter said, without crossing ethical lines and telling the source your opinion on a matter.
Ann Shoket, editor of Seventeen for seven years, and Joanne Lipman, chief content officer of Gannett, delivered the keynote speech today, which aimed to encourage millennials even as some tell them they’re not capable or qualified to achieve certain successes or hold certain positions. Key ideas of the discussion were to have confidence, be curious, and take risks. They emphasized the importance of speaking up and contributing ideas in meetings, even if you’re unsure of yourself because more often than not, they are valuable ideas. Lipman then recounted the story of a job interview that she was convinced had gone poorly. She than asked many (what she perceived to be silly) questions after because she knew she wasn’t going to work there, so she didn’t care if she appeared foolish. A few weeks later, she got the job because the employer had been impressed by how many questions she’d asked and took them as a sign of her curiosity, a trait employers value. Shoket then touched on the value of taking risks and saying “yes” to every opportunity that presents itself even if you lack confidence.
The last stop of the day was the Wall Street Journal, where unfortunately, we were not allowed to take many photos due to security reasons. It was fascinating to glimpse how a big, national publication works to produce its newspaper every day. Thinking of how much work Beacon staffers and editors invest in reporting, writing, and editing, it’s difficult to fathom that process on a bigger scale and on a faster timeline.
The Journal is trying to increase its digital presence and to attract more subscribers through social media, such as Snapchat. The publication puts short articles on Snapchat to compel people who wouldn’t normally read the Wall Street Journal to take a look and to change the Journal’s image as strictly a source of business and political news. However, though they are investing in increasing digital subscription, the guide, Carrie Melago, an editor at the Journal, mentioned several times that the paper highly values its print subscribers because they have often been reading the Journal for decades and need to produce a quality print edition for them.
My favorite moment of the tour was a simple one —passing through one of the lower floors, we saw (what I think were) tentative layouts on the wall for the “Weekend Edition” section of the paper. They stood out to me because the pages on the wall will be on my couch or countertop all the way in Roseburg, Oregon when they are published. The work the Journal does reaches people all over the world and speaks to the power and importance of journalism, from the Wall Street Journal to the Beacon.
Thank you, my Beacon friends, for being such good travel companions and fun people to attend the conference and explore NYC with! And thank you to Nancy for encouraging me to apply to go because I probably wouldn’t have otherwise.