Archive for March, 2018

CMA NYC 2018 started this year for photojournalists with a two hour session regarding the rules of a photo competition. We had two full days to take and submit a photo that screamed New York City with “a moment in time” as the theme and people as the focus.

I cleared my schedule early Friday afternoon and took myself and my camera to Grand Central Terminal. I stood against a railing waiting for a moment and some people. I did not have to wait long.

Shreya and Sagar came literally spinning into view within the next 60 seconds. They were all smiles. They were oh so obviously star-crossed lovers in a magical city. When they finally noticed me, I had at least twenty shots of their dance on my SD card. They gave me their names and we parted ways.


Shreya and Sagar dancing in Grand Central Terminal.

I spotted the Austrian couple, Juergen and Sabrina Harich, by the information desk. They were of the traditional group of tourists with paper maps and questions for humans as their tools for maneuvering the city rather than Apple maps and questions for Siri. Juergen was concentrating so intently on figuring out the subway system that I am sure I could have fired off fifty shots before him noticing my presence, but Sabrina was more observant of her surroundings and stopped me at five. That fifth photo became the one I submitted for the contest.


Juergen and Sabrina Harich feeling lost in Grand Central Terminal.

I snapped a few more photos that day: an older couple and a guard pointing up at the ceiling, a man named Mohammed selling hot dogs, two construction workers taking a break, a pair of friends chatting and smoking on the street, tourists in Times Square, but I only submitted Juergen and Sabrina.

I did not win the competition, but I did not expect to. How could I have with the competition so stiff? The top three photos featured a protest turned riot, a pair of ignored homeless persons and a first kiss.

The speakers and organizers of the competition tore the photos submitted apart. Here’s what I learned was wrong with my photo of Juergen and Sabrina: the man in the bottom left-hand corner was distracting, I should have decreased my shutter speed to let the people in the background go blurry, Sabrina was looking too directly at me, and worst of all was all the dead space up above. It left me thinking that I should have submitted the photo of Shreya and Sagar.

But what I took away from the competition was not that I am a terrible photojournalist. I took away ideas for being a better Multimedia Editor for The Beacon like making the photography team take a group trip to downtown Portland to take pictures of strangers to get them comfortable with taking pictures of and talking to people. Or like basic helpful tips to improve the photography game we’ve got going on. Or like how to work with the equipment you’ve got rather than wishing for the equipment you don’t.

– Annika Gordon

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I have decided that I have exactly two top favorite memories from CMA NYC 2018. The first one is stumbling upon a very random ramen restaurant in SoHo that was too fancy and quiet for the college students that arrived there and had walls made out of stacked books. The second memory is going to a session on International Women’s Day led by three of the leaders of Michigan State University’s newspaper, The State News.

Larry Nassar was MSU’s osteopathic physician. He was the USA Gymnastics national team doctor. Most significantly, he was a child abuser and will be serving time in prison for the rest of his days for his crimes. The State News wrote over 300 articles covering the terror over the last 2 years. They went to the courtroom and stood 10 feet away from Nassar on more than one occasion. They skipped days of school working and writing to make sure their community stayed informed and they did not have much support from their school’s administration to do so. They listened to the powerful words of over 100 victims. And they admitted to the emotional toll the last 2 years had taken on them.

Rachel Fradette, Marie Weidmayer and Madison O’Connor. Those are the names of those three leaders. They are brave and strong young women.

The victims who spoke out were all brave and strong young women.

In New York City, I had the huge honor of meeting up with two former Beaconites. Malika Andrews who now works for The New York Times and Shelby Vaculin at NBC Studios. I am oh so lucky to call them incredible mentors and friends. They are both brave and strong young women.

Malika Andrews, Clare Duffy, Rachel Rippetoe, Olivia Sanchez, Hannah Siervert, and Claire Desmarais. They are the past, present, and future leaders of The Beacon. They are also brave and strong young women.

I walked up to the three editors of The State News at the end of their session. They were getting ready to leave when I told them “Thank you,” when I told them it was not lost on me that the leaders of all the work and hours put into covering the horror of Larry Nassar’s actions were women, when I told them that they were the reason we acknowledge and celebrate International Women’s Day.

What I learned on International Women’s Day at CMA NYC 2018 was this: I have been blessed to have brave and strong young women as role models and, more importantly, I will be one too.

– Annika Gordon


Shelby Vaculin recently moved to New York City to work as a page for NBC Studios.



Malika Andrews works as a reporter for The New York Times’ sports team.

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Another piece of advice from the conference that left me feeling motivated was the importance of social media branding in this day in age. When going into a career as a journalist, it is important to keep a professional twitter, instagram, and facebook that reflect where you work, are well kept and frequently updated, and have many followers. Though I knew the importance of a clean social media presence before I left for the conference, I did not know that follower count could have an impact on your chances of getting a job. Though that made me feel slightly nervous, I realized I am young, and I have time to build up that base and look of professionalism on my accounts through college and my working years. I learned this from two different sessions: “Building your College Media Brand” on Saturday and the Keynote speaker of that day, Lauren Duca, whose tweets have gotten massive attention and even gotten her freelance jobs!

-Natalie Rubio-Licht

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Though the entire conference has left me inspired and motivated, one panel I found very informative that stuck with me was “Getting the Source”, with Reuters reporter Andrew Seaman, on the excessive use of anonymity in professional journalism. In the panel, Seaman mentioned that publications like the Washington Post and the New York Times attribute quotes to sources who want to remain anonymous for reasons that do not call for it, which creates distrust between readers and the publication. Excessive anonymity also inhibits future reporting, jeopardizes relationships with sources, and is ethically and legally problematic. Unless the source has a good reason for their anonymity, such as threat of harm, then it should not be allowed. However, he gave us ways to get past dead ends when we are faced with them in our first hand sources. This includes considering our resources (asking ourselves “where else can we get the information we need?”), considering second hand sources, and utilizing documents (i.e., texts between people, police/medical reports, campus police, etc.). He also talked about ways of opening up a source during an interview. This included doing research on the subject and finding common ground, asking the hard questions upfront, and not being afraid of silence in an interview.

Outside the conference, The Beacon crew traveled around midtown and had a blast. Though I was too sick to go out on the first day of the conference, we had a lot of fun in central park, at the Museum of Modern Art and getting dinner the second night.

-Natalie Rubio-Licht

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Interviewing can be the most powerful tool in a journalist’s pocket if used correctly. This past Friday, March 9, at the annual CMA conference I got a new perspective on how to sharpen my interviewing skills.

At the conference, I attended a workshop titled “FBI Strategies for Interviewing”, where the speaker, Holly Johnson, described the tactics she’s come across both in her own experience and in interactions with law enforcement for interviewing.


Reporters often use these methods without knowing it, but consciously implementing them can really help create an understanding of the story our interviewee is trying to tell.

Thinking back, I noticed these elements at play in the tour of Democracy Now I had taken the day before. From the green room our tour group observed Amy Goodman interview guests in honor of International Women’s Day. In that broadcast, I can remember Goodman demonstrating each one of the interviewing tools Johnson talked about.

Withholding judgement allows the person you’re interviewing to feel safe in expressing what they believe without feeling the need to defend themselves. Johnson used the example of talking to a school official about a new policy, which I feel is very applicable to many stories I write. When covering rules and policies, it’s easy to resort to blind rejection. It takes effort to step back and approach a story objectively, but it’s well worth it.

Joining, as Johnson explained, is using language which shows that you see the other perspective on an issue. Joining goes hand in hand with withholding judgement, and like the later helps to create an environment where the person you’re interviewing feels comfortable expressing their views. This doesn’t necessarily mean one needs to give credence to sexist views when talking to someone about International Women’s Day, as we discussed with some of the Democracy Now staff after the broadcast. Not all views are deserving of equal coverage. Joining just means choosing your words carefully to show that you’re open to what the other person is saying.

Mirroring, as the name suggests, is reflecting another person’s body posture with your own. Leaning forward when listening, and backward when they get defensive not only shows you’re paying attention, but that you’re interested as well.

Showing curiosity and active listening make your interviewee feel heard, and encourages them to share more. If you seem disinterested in what someone is saying, they won’t be interested in telling you about it. In order to keep both you and them engaged, you, as the interviewer, need to ask questions based on their responses and not formulate the next question before they finish. Let them tell their story, and actively participate in it.

Interviewing is one of the most important skills a reporter can have. Knowing not only which questions to ask, but how to ask them gets you more information and a better story.

– Sam Cushing

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During this year’s College Media Association’s spring convention, I attended a workshop titled “How to Thrive in a TV Newsroom”, presented by Lynn Walsh. She discussed topics like:
– How to build your brand
– How to make yourself an expert
– How to engage with your audience and others in your profession
– How to perfect your pitch (picture below)
And other tips to get ahead.
Seeing this, as well as other workshops throughout the conference, made me realize that the Beacon was missing a structured broadcast.

I also attended a lecture called “The Camera in Your Pocket”, which covered the different ways to optimize your cell phone camera. These helped show me the different ways the Beacon could enhance our multimedia content.


Thanks! – Sam Cushing

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By Hannah Sievert

I was overwhelmed with the amount of good information I got from the CNA conference this year. I filled up almost ten pages in my notebook with ideas, tips, tricks, inspirations, and words of wisdom.  But one of the most interesting info sessions I went to was “Five Ways to Build an Audience That Trusts You.”

The session was led by Lynn Walsh, who works at Trusting News. Trusting News works to understand why people don’t trust the news and media as much as they used to. They have interviewed a surveyed tons of people and boiled it down to five things a media outlet must do for an audience to build trust in that media outlet. As the editor-in-chief of The Beacon next year, I want to start implementing these five ideas:

  1. Explain our process.  It’s important to show how our media outlet gathers information and writes its stories. We need to show evidence of fair and deep reporting, and explain how our editorial board and our writers make thoughtful decision making. It can be helpful to take people behind the scenes in our work — like doing a behind the scenes video of how a Beacon video was made. It can be helpful to put the code of ethics we follow on our website.
  2. Be accessible. Walsh pointed out that readers want to feel like they can contact the person behind the story, which is why it’s important to include an email for the writer at the bottom of the story and a contact page.  This also includes simple things like an automatic response email when story ideas are submitted, that help people feel heard.
  3. Engage authentically.  Walsh said it’s important for media outlets to engage with readers on Facebook and Twitter by responding to their questions and comments. If someone calls the media outlet out on being one-sided, it would be good to respond with “How were we one-sided specifically? What perspective do you think was not represented?” Walsh’s mantra was, “Reward productive comments and publically challenge harmful ones.”
  4. Demonstrate balance. People always want to see multiple sides of a story. Walsh showed a story that required multiple perspectives, with an editor’s note on top that read: “Not everyone’s perspective is represented in this story. Click here for more perspectives.”
  5. Label your stories. We need to be clear about what is opinion, what is an editorial, what is an explainer, a Q & A. The word needs to follow over to all social media so it is clear what’s posted was an opinion or editorial.

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