Archive for March, 2018

Claire here again! The CMA conference brought in many journalists who spoke about their experience with specific stories and also in a broad sense.

Michigan State University:

And in addition to the sessions that gave specific information, I attended a session in which the Michigan State University student-run newspaper editor-in-chief and reporters came to talk about their coverage of Larry Nassar, a man convicted of sexually assaulting hundreds of girls while working as a doctor for Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics.

They touched on the pressure they felt while trying to cover the stories and events while they were happening, and how they spent hours and hours in the courtrooms and the toll it took on themselves. Many of the reporters experience secondhand trauma because they had sat in the courtrooms listening to the 156 impact statements and all the other time spent reading and researching the survivors’ stories. Some advice they gave was to never give up your personal health for a story, because it is most likely not worth it.

Overall, the women who came to speak had so much strength and knowledge from the continuous coverage of Larry Nassar, and explained the tactics used to make their stories show the strength of the survivors. They made a statement when they took the front page of their newspaper and listed the names of all the survivors of the abuse, showing the strength.

Lauren Duca:

On the last day, we listened to Lauren Duca, an opinion editor for Vogue magazine, speak about her experience writing on political pieces and how need to not be afraid to voice our opinions.

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Duca touched on the difference between fairness and accuracy, and that for news reporting it is much more straight-forward and factual than opinion writing. For her, speaking the truth is the most important part of writing because what’s the point of writing if it’s not true?

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Through her funny and eye-opening presentation, I learned to find my own voice and stand by what I believe in no matter what backlash it might have.

Overall, the College Media Association conference allowed me to further my journalistic skills, and provided me with valuable information to bring back to the The Beacon to implement in our own staff.



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Claire Desmarais, student news reporter, here!

After traveling to the College Media Association conference in New York City, I feel like my whole outlook on journalism has changed completely. As someone who is fairly new to journalism and reporting, I wanted to absorb as much information and advice from those who presented at the conference to become a better journalist overall. So many schools attended, which showed the diversity of publications throughout the college news world. Hearing the experiences about other schools showed me how there is not wrong or right way to do everything, but experimenting with what works best for your own staff and publication allows for growth and the possibility if becoming greater than before.


To touch on a few things, we went to so many sessions with great presenters who have experience and valuable information that we as a group can bring back to make The Beacon better overall.

Here are some of the sessions I attended with the most valuable information I took away from them:

Black and White—Why students of color aren’t reading your stories:

This session was one of the most impactful sessions from the whole conference. A faculty advisor discussed how the media represents people of color, and other underrepresented groups. People of color don’t trust journalists because often times journalists make mistakes in the story, which allows for the audience to lose interest or become upset.

The advisor said there are some main reasons why students of color or other underrepresented groups are not reading our stories.

  • Only write stories on POC during holidays or events, not on issues
  • Have a zoo-like mentality, only view POC or underrepresented groups when they are doing something (event, dance, clothes) unknown
  • Not a diverse staff, how can you write stories on POC or underrepresented groups if you have no diversity on your staff?


To wrap it all up, the advisor suggested to never assume on issues because it can lead to stereotypes, misrepresentations, and other mistakes. Because you don’t want to assume, you need to just “ask the damn question” as the advisor put it. If you aren’t sure about a topic, and think it might be offensive or you want to get the viewpoint correct, then you need to just ask. It’s better to ask then to run the story wrong. And finally, don’t make those mistakes because POC and underrepresented groups lose trust in you.

Everybody love everybody:

 Asking your staff the simple question, “how was your day?” can have remarkable benefits for the overall morale for a newsroom. This session focused on how to boost morale in the newsroom, which can ultimately lead to improvements on the content.

  • Ask your staff how their day was. This can foster relationships among staff members to allow for them to work better together. No one wants to be on team full of members who hate each other.
  • “You’ve been caught” cards—This recognizes staff members who have done good work throughout the week.
  • Praise publically, criticize privately

The last point I think is the most important. When you point out what someone does wrong in front of everybody, that breaks down their confidence and can negative effects. Publicly calling out what someone has done wrong is not the means for wanting them to do better, and rather we should meet privately to discuss what they may need to do in order to be better. Praising the good work people do can allow for staff members to feel encouraged and want to continue doing.

These were the two sessions I took the most information from, and feel like we can incorporate the solutions to these problems in our newsroom.

Claire Desmarais

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Hi! It’s Connor again.

The CMA conference wrapped up yesterday, and most of us are either back home or somewhere other than New York now. I’ve already talked about the first day, so I’m going to go over the other two days of the conference.

On the second day, I went to a few presentations, but by far my favorite was by Bill German, the author of Under Their Thumb. Bill covered the Rolling Stones for a newsletter he had produced since he was in high school, one that the Stones would eventually see and officially endorse. His talk included anecdotes from his times hanging out with Mick Jagger, Kieth Richards, and Ron Wood as well as a discussion about the principles and ethics of journalism. For a short while, the band was his bankroll, and even after he became financially independent from them again he had to balance fair reporting with not upsetting his sources (the band members and managers). It was really interesting to hear him discuss the development of his personal code of ethics from the time he was 16 to when he finally stopped producing his newsletter in his 30’s.

Over the course of the conference, I participated in a photography contest to “freeze time” and capture the story of somebody in New York. I submitted two photos, which I will add to this post–along with some other pictures I took.

The contest was challenging in that I had to actually go approach a stranger in New York and ask them their name and about their life. While I didn’t manage to get a whole life’s story from anyone, I did talk to several people for a short while–including paying a food vendor $4 to convince him to open up to me a little bit (in addition to getting a hot dog I wasn’t hungry for). If anything, it was good practice for what I do at The Beacon, since often I need to go up to new people and ask them if they would be willing to devote some of their time to a video.

A last highlight of the conference was hearing Lauren Duca speak as the keynote speaker for the last conference’s last day. Before, I had no idea who she was (even though she has close to half a million Twitter followers), but over the past few years she has been gaining notoriety for her column in Teen Vogue in addition to a heated argument with Tucker Carlson on Fox News. She is young, only 27, and has been challenging the idea that you have to be old in order to be an experienced journalist that knows anything about politics and other subjects. She receives death threats on Twitter often (something she briefly touched upon), which speaks to the incredibly polarizing nature of her work and personality. I followed her on Twitter halfway through her talk because I was immediately drawn to her “I’m going to say what I believe and not care about what others think” personality. I think her challenging of the traditional role of journalists keeping their personal view out of everything they do is amazing, and for me, her talk was probably the most motivating out of the entire conference.

The conference was amazing, and being in New York feels like you are really at the heart of journalism. It sounds weird to say, because journalism isn’t a place, but if it was, it would be New York. Thanks for reading!

See ya!


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I’m Connor, a videographer at The Beacon! Currently, a few of us are in New York for the College Media Association’s annual NYC conference. The conference gives us a chance to learn more about different aspects of journalism from a range of different backgrounds, including authors of books, reporters, photojournalists, and other student journalists.

While I attended a few different presentations yesterday, the one that stood out the most to me was one given by members of the Michigan State University student paper The State News. For the past two years, The State News  has been covering the Larry Nassar sexual abuse case. Being an MSU osteopathic doctor, The State News is perhaps the closest media organization to the case, and it was really interesting hearing how the students handled covering a case that turned into national news.

The reporters talked about how they were able to report ‘fresh’ stories, even with national media outlets such as CNN covering the same exact case. They noted how they were able to put an MSU-specific view onto the story as well as recognizing the importance of the local sources they had spent a large amount of time cultivating, which gave them an advantage over national outlets.

The panel also talked about the importance of seeing reporters as humans and fellow people with emotions rather than just stone-faced fact givers. The Larry Nassar case is obviously incredibly sickening, and hearing the stories of the survivors could really affect somebody. The reporters would forget to eat, skip classes, and lose sleep as they constantly worked on stories about the case, and constantly reporting on the vile things that happened took a toll on them. One even noted how she would be receiving therapy to help her cope with what she spent so much time listening to.

Aside from the conference, New York City is really cool! This is my first time here, and seeing everything from TV/movies in person is insane. The biggest shock for me was walking around and just happening on Rockefeller Plaza. If you love SNL, Jimmy Fallon, 30 Rock, etc., it’s a must-see. Also, standing directly under One World Trade Center is insane. It’s the tallest building in the U.S.A., and looking up from its base creates an indescribable feeling. Something is always happening in NYC. There’s a ton of places to eat and so many sites to see. There is always something to do, which is a huge change coming from Portland.

See ya!

-Connor Lorber

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