Archive for March, 2019

Claire Desmarais, news and managing editor, here! Last weekend, I attended the Midwinter National College Journalism Convention in La Jolla, California. This conference comprised of other student journalists from colleges like California State University, Chico, California Lutheran University, and others from various Midwest and Eastern universities.

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At this conference, I attended a variety of sessions showcasing different experiences from students, and many advisors and students gave presentations on skills that I can utilize in The Beacon newsroom.

From Gunfire to Wildfire

Editors from California State Lutheran gave a presentation about their experience covering the Borderline Bar and Grill shooting, and then the next day covering the Woolsey Fire that erupted near campus. These two tragedies at once forced student journalists to take their skills to a new level to report on these horrendous events, but they also had to deal with their own grief in the midst of these tragedies.

The student editors had to assemble late at night while the Borderline shooting was still going on, head to the scene of the crime, listen to statements, and reach out to those at the hospital who were affected by the shooting. They had to show courage and work on this story even when they were checking in on their own friends who may have been at the Bar during the time. But it wasn’t even that long after the frist tragedy that the Woolsey Fire ignited. The editing team was spread across nearby towns as each evacuated, and lost power and wifi so they utilized social media for updates on what was happening.


These students had to show courage and also maintain composure even when they were dealing with stories that caused a lot of pain for the reporters and the community around them. They were so brave to be able to share their information with students while they were also grieving.

Creating Culture in Your Newsroom

Another session talked about how to create a culture in your newsroom. I found this incredibly helpful because as editor-in-chief next year, I really want to create a culture in the newsroom that is a positive environment.

Here are some tips from this event:

  • hold team lunches
  • play icebreakers
  • celebrate birthdays
  • celebrate holidays
  • play, sing, dance, laugh
  • ask about everyone’s days


By taking the time to really get to know your team, you can form better relationships and have a better work environment. Other suggestions about creating a positive culture included understanding the best techniques on how to lead.

These included:

  • set the tone
  • negative attitude can affect everyone in the room
  • legacy dependent on behavior
  • acknowledge when you’re wrong and apologize

By utilizing and making sure you’re in line with these ideas, your newsroom culture can remain positive. Another aspect is understanding that every staff member is going through their own things, and to be respectful fo what they are going through. We all are trying to do our best and and we all face hard times so let’s be there for each other.


Trauma Reporting

This session focused on how to cover events that are tragedies in the communities that may be difficult to speak with people. It’s really important to be an empathetic reporter so you can truly listen to people’s stories. If you are on the scene of a tragedy, make sure to respect people and their boundaries. Not everyone will want to talk with you. But a lot of people, if you give them time, want to talk about their story. They want to be asked.

Other tips included that people in emotional distraught often say things that it may not be ethical to write about because they are not in the right state of mind. Having the skills to understand when the right time and place to ask questions is can really affect how information is gathered for a story.

Overall, this conference gave me great tips on how to incorporate new techniques in the newsroom and how to further my own skills and those of other staffers. I’m looking forward to sharing all my great info with the staff!

Claire Desmarais

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Another session from the conference that I really enjoyed was a presentation on passion projects from the newspaper staff at LMU. The editors at LMU had their staff work on projects they were passionate about which resulted in interesting, diverse and engaging documentaries, photos and stories.


One of the examples of a passion project

The speaker explained that the projects were collaborative, meaning that the editors really guided the staff member and helped bring their vision to life. The process was explained in clear and concise steps and the results speak for themselves.

It was evident that the content that resulted from the passion projects is something that the staff members are extremely proud of. I think that it is such a valuable experience to be able to pour yourself into something you are truly passionate about and walk away from it feeling like you accomplished something.


Another example of a passion project created by LMU

The passion projects of these student journalists demonstrate the quality of work that is produced when you are passionate about the topic. I think that this concept spans across all mediums and genres because passion often leads to beautiful results whether it be through photos, video or stories.

I was personally really inspired by this presentation. I have ideas for stories I want to tell but do not know where to start, but I think The Beacon would be a great platform to use for sharing my stories.

This session and the conference as a whole were very inspiring, and I cannot wait to get back to the newsroom and keep finding great stories to share!


Here are some key takeaways from the conference:

  1. Hearing about how the Financial Times expanded into other mediums over the years made me wonder what we can do at The Beacon to really evolve the ways in which we reach students and how we can engage and interact with our audience more.
  2. I think what I took away from the ethics session was how important the ethics of journalism really are and how critical having a code is. I also learned that it is important for the public to know our ethical standpoints.
  3. I think that our staff is talented and diverse and everyone has a different story to tell. I would love to see The Beacon do more passion projects and try different ways of telling stories such as documentaries.
  4. Social media is becoming an increasingly important way to create a presence with your audience.
  5. What it means to be a journalist is changing with new technology and ways of sharing information, so it is important to be ready to adapt to where the media world is heading.

– Maddie Pfeifer


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One session from the College Media Association conference that I found interesting was a session on the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics. I think that as journalists, we run into ethical issues all the time and it was really helpful to hear from two speakers who helped create this code of ethics that we follow.

Learning about how the code of ethics came to be and how it evolved over time was fascinating. The speakers emphasized how this code is for all kinds of journalists. They also spoke about how they had to take into account the growing influence of social media when they revised the code of ethics in 2014.


I think what might have been the most valuable part of the session was getting to hear from other student journalists who have dealt with ethical issues and applied the code. I think we do not often deal with huge ethical issues at The Beacon, but you never know when you will be confronted with an important issue that you need to make a decision on quickly. It is reassuring to know we have a code to guide us and the SPJ will take our calls whenever we need advice.

It is critical as journalists that we know our resources and I think that this session helped me to know more about some resources we could use at The Beacon. It is always good to get a refresher on ethics because ethical decisions will have to be made by not just editors, but reporters and photographers as well. It is just part of the job.

Something especially interesting about the session was we were posed with a hypothetical scenario and asked what we would do in the situation. There were many different opinions and arguments from the journalists in the audience but we all used the code of ethics to back up our points.

This session was valuable to me and I look forward to helping ensure that we always keep in mind ethical guidelines at The Beacon!

– Maddie Pfeifer

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On our first full day in New York, we had the opportunity to on a tour of the Financial Times. This was something I was looking forward to because I love being able to see how newsrooms operate. The first thing that struck me when I arrived was that the print copies of the paper were a shade of pink!

I was not super familiar with the Financial Times before visiting the newsroom, but I definitely learned a lot on the tour. We met different members of the staff including editors, reporters, video producers, social media specialists, podcast/audio producers and more. It was cool to see how the newsroom was comprised of people with such varying skills.

This really emphasized to me how many people it takes to have a successful newsroom. It is so important in the constantly changing media landscape that we live in to have people with a variety of skills that are able to innovate and adapt to create the best content using the most effective mediums. I also think the tour of the Financial Times helped me to see the necessity of having multiple skills–not just being able to write but being able to take decent photos or make enticing graphics.

The Financial Times is an international publication which means they are constantly receiving information from all over the globe so they really have to sift through the information to decide what is newsworthy. This showed me how important judgement is when it comes to working in the newsroom because they only have so many employees and they cannot write about every story that comes their way.

Another interesting part of the tour was going into the video production room at the Financial Times. I enjoyed learning about how they shoot videos covering financial/business topics and make them engaging.

Overall, I think something that was emphasized on the tour was how many people who work at the Financial Times will start working on a project that they think has potential and eventually, if they prove themselves, they get support from the company. This was what happened with the video and podcasting departments.

I think that this process applies to college newsrooms as well. As student journalists, we have the opportunity to experiment and we also happen to be pretty tech-savvy, so I think that now is the time for us to be trying new things and learning how to engage more with our audience. The tour of the Financial Times was really informative and inspired me to think about what we can do at The Beacon to really grow and evolve!

– Maddie Pfeifer

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Have you ever gotten that annoying “Storage almost full” message? You know who hasn’t? Bloomberg.


Hosts of a Bloomberg radio show can be seen in the recording studio. Bloomberg’s philosophy of transparency in everything they do manifests itself as glass walls seen throughout the building.

Today, I toured Bloomberg’s global headquarters and was struck by the sheer enormity of their data management situation. Maybe it’s because I’m an engineering major, but I was far more interested in the way Bloomberg actually generated, stored, and distributed their content compared to how they produced it. I mean, it must be an absolute logistical nightmare.

The sheer amount of raw data housed in a single Bloomberg Terminal alone is vast, but to think that the data from one Terminal will be used to generate even more data in the form of audio files for their numerous radio stations and video files for their television segments. Now imagine scaling that up to give nearly 19,000 employees their own Terminal.


Seen above is the “double set” system Bloomberg uses for their TV segments. Two sets are set up perpendicular to each other so multiple segments can be recorded in quick succession.


Granted, they probably don’t actually store all (if any) data permanently onsite, but they still had enormous server rooms on each floor that rivaled the offices and the newsroom in terms of size. They probably transmit data between their New York location and an offsite server warehouse somewhere, but do you know that this also means? Bloomberg must also have some of the greatest WIFI on the planet.

 This makes sense though. Bloomberg built their empire on the Bloomberg Terminal, a system that provides clients with real-time financial market data, buy and sell stock, as well as view descriptions, articles, and contact information for reporters and specialists. The Bloomberg Terminal allows every Bloomberg bureau to seamlessly communicate with one another in real time around the world. Given the volume of data they must handle and the vast swath of land to cover, it’s no wonder Bloomberg has a prime data management system.



Pictured above are two rooms dedicated to housing data servers. Rooms like these are vast and numerous in Bloomberg’s headquarters.

It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to tour Bloomberg, and for that I am grateful. Mr. Bloomberg, if you’re reading this, thank you for the tour and warm welcome (and don’t forget that you still owe me a selfie).

– Brennan Crowder


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