Archive for March, 2023

Canva by Janea Melido

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During the 2023 College Media Association conference in New York, the Columbia Scholastic Press Association awarded The Beacon a Silver Crown Award for overall excellence in online college publications.

Also, photographer Gavin Britton won a Sony camera for his spectacular photo of a bicyclist in Times Square.

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Anyone who keeps up to date with The Beacon has heard the news. The Beacon is in New York City, and we’re having an awesome time. 

While my Instagram stories have been filled with photos of city skylines and classical art (courtesy of the Met) and reposted celebrations of conference shenanigans, my mind has been roaming around much more. In the American market, New York City is considered the Mecca for journalists, and you’d be pretty hard pressed to find a student journalist who doesn’t dream big of the big apple. I, of course, am no exception to this rule. 

While my dreams of moving to New York City may be common, my experience this past week in NYC wasn’t. This week, while attending a conference held by the College Media Association, I was given the incredible opportunity alongside my fellow Beacon staffers Janea Melido and Kimberly Cortez to visit the CNN Newsroom in a tour led by Beacon alums and CNN reporters Rachel Rameriez and Clare Duffy. 

Filled with nerves about my outfit (what is the dress code?) and what the wind did to my hair (I should have brought a hairbrush) and whether or not I should have worn heels instead of my boots, Clare and Rachel’s warm and welcoming personalities quickly soothed my stresses. The three of us, alongside Netty Jurriaans, Gavin Britton, Michael Lang and of course our wonderful advisor Nancy Copic, sat in a blueish-green tiled coffee shop to pester Clare and Rachel with our various questions on jobs, internships, grad school and their advice on how we can use the skills they’ve learned in journalism today in our work at The Beacon. Clare and Rachel were ready and willing to answer any question we had, and our gratefulness for that cannot be overstated. 

It was after this that Beacon Copyeditor Janea and Community Engagement Editor Kimberly and I were led into the CNN offices by Clare and Rachel to get a tour of the newsroom. Off the elevator, the words to the first amendment of the US constitution are written down the length of the hallway, leading to the newsroom. After this, a sea of monitors on desks with red chairs extend across a wide room filled with light from the New York City ephemeral winter sunshine. As we walked further Clare and Rachel began introducing us to a few of their coworkers and having them explain to us what their jobs were at CNN. We were introduced by Clare and Rachel as students from their alma mater, and with each introduction I felt more and more proud of that title. Firstly, we are students. I think as students we can sometimes get so focused on the future that we forget our whole role, what anyone asks of us, is to learn. Though on spring break for the University of Portland, walking through CNN and speaking to Clare, Rachel, and their fellow coworkers allowed us to be students in a completely different setting.

By Kate Cuadrado, News and Managing Editor

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Strategic Planning and Prioritizing My Goals

Balancing school, family, social life, mental health and The Beacon can seem impossible sometimes. I’m only one person, but I’m a person with big aspirations and goals for my future in mind. I’m often overwhelmed with picking and choosing what to prioritize, especially when life after college is going to a reality a lot sooner than later.

Going to the CMA conference really confirmed that I wanted journalism to be my future. But although I solidified that idea, there are still many steps to get me there.

I went to a session led by EIC of The Muleskinner, Rachel Becker called Exploring Editorial Leadership: Putting First Things First where her and her adviser spoke on the importance of differentiating when something is important versus when it is urgent.

They gifted us a resource that they referred to as the management box (pictured below).

They gave us our own management box so that we could personally categorize what we consider important versus urgent and not at all within the newsroom as well as in our everyday lives. I learned that an emphasis should be put onto the second quadrant: important but not urgent. In that moment I listed that networking, my career and outreach for The Beacon as things that would be in my second quadrant.

This gave me a lot more structure in my life and I plan on bringing this back to the staff on The Beacon so that we can all be intentional and efficient with what we are doing.

Janea Melido is Copy Editor for The Beacon. She can be reached at melido24@up.edu.

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Finding Beats out of Your Comfort Zone

When I first filled out my college application and chose English as my major, I had no idea what I wanted to do with that. My love for writing translated into my love for journalism, so despite the University of Portland not having a journalism program, I was confident that my major would aid me in this field.

I’ve always considered “breaking news” to be my beat, but as college comes to an end and I find myself looking at different paths I can take, I’ve realized that developing a beat is something I need to put more conscious thought into.

I’m not well versed in any subject matters. I read and write. That’s all I’ve been doing for the last few years. But attending the College Media Association Convention in New York this year opened up my eyes to a new side of journalism: business reporting.

Led by Associate Professor at The King’s College in NYC, Paul Glader held a session called: Where The Money Is! Business Reporting.

Now I’ve made an attempt with fellow Editorial Board member Michael Lang at business reporting, but with the stock market being such a volatile and complex subject, I quickly dropped the project. Feeling discouraged, I stayed away from any form of business reporting.

But this session revealed that there are so many different aspects to this side of journalism. This includes the business side of education, arts and entertainment as well as retail — a few things that I am a bit more well versed in.

After this session, I went up to Paul and told him that he peaked my interest. I expressed that I had no background in business and he gave me several news publications and books by journalists to follow.

He looked at me intently and told me that the only way I can get involved in this beat is to start writing. From this session I’ve gained the motivation to step out of my comfort zone and explore the business side of things.

Janea Melido is Copy Editor for The Beacon. She can be reached at melido24@up.edu.

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Claiming to be a city that doesn’t sleep has many implications. One of those being that it must be an amazing place to visit. There must be restaurants, stores even people who are awake all times of the day. It also implies that there is something special about such a place. it makes you think that you are about to enter a dreamland where anything you can dream can and will become reality.

As a photographer at heart, I had seen many photos of New York. I have wanted to go and capture the fast-paced city. Street photography is unique because even if you photograph the same place 100 times you can always get a different image. That is why New York was so enticing to me.

When I first heard about the CMA conference, I initially thought it was geared more towards journalists, not photographers. But I was itching to go to New York and applied to go anyway. When I got accepted, I was thrilled. Not only would I get to visit one of Americas most popular cities, but I was also informed that there were sessions dedicated for photographers. With my sights set on New York, I was more excited than ever to see what the city had in store.

Now as I look back on the conference I have three key takeaways.

1. Actively Listen

As a photographer, I related much differently to the keynote speakers at this conference. But by going into each session and talk with a goal to learn something new I was able to gain lots of helpful advice that is applicable to both photography and life. For example listening to Marc Lacey Talk about his life story was super inspiring.

2. Get lost in new places.

When I say ‘get lost’ I don’t mean lose cell reception, walk around with no sense of direction or anything else dangerous. I mean walk around, explore the surrounding areas and be intentional with discovering new places. Most of the time you will find places that otherwise you would have never discovered.

Small Deli in NYC – Gavin Britton, britton24@up.edu

3. Take Notes

Taking notes can seem like a no brainer especially at a conference. The reason I bring this up is because even though we take enough notes in our classes, they are very helpful in retaining information. By taking notes you remember much more than you would if all you did was listen. Now I’m not saying everyone must write down every word. But, by keeping track of the main ideas or even things that the speaker said that stood out to you is key.

Gavin Britton is a photographer for The Beacon. He can be reached at britton24@up.edu

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I am a photographer and videographer for the Beacon and love to photograph anything and everything. So, when I heard that there was an “On-site” photography competition at the CMA convention, I knew I wanted to take part. The rules were simple. The prompt was to capture a postcard worthy image that showcased what life was like in the city that never sleeps. There were a few rules. The most important being that the photo had to be taken and edited within a 48-hour period. This meant I had to think and act fast. Although I had never been to New York City, I had been exploring tons.

So, I had a good idea of what I wanted to capture. I had planned on finding a composition that depicted the fast-paced nature of the city while also having emotion and a clear subject. I tried many different angles and locations but eventually camped out on a road leading into Times Square hoping I would catch a cyclist whizzing through the city. Eventually I was able to get some great images.

Times Square, NYC – Gavin Britton, University of Portland, britton24@up.edu

I learned a lot from this competition. I noticed how different shooting with a purpose was compared to my normal type of shooting. Normally I just capture scenes that capture my attention. Moments that I personally want to share. But for this competition I was challenged to follow a specific prompt. That leads to my first takeaway. Shooting for different purposes can change how you photograph for the better. I had a prompt to follow and while doing so I noticed different moments than I normally do. Secondly, I found that I was more intentional with the photos that I did shoot. By being more intentional with what I chose to shoot, I had created more meaningful images and didn’t need to sort as thoroughly. My last takeaway was that forcing yourself to go out and explore a new place is rewarding. I love visiting new places and competitions like the one I participated in gave me something to work towards.

Overall, I would recommend that anyone who is interested in improving their own photography should just continue to shoot images that they like and find interesting. The right moments can transform an average picture to a contest winner.

Gavin Britton is a photographer for The Beacon. He can be reached at britton24@up.edu

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The Importance of Law as a Journalist

Going into this conference I felt a lot of imposter syndrome simply becauseI don’t plan on pursuing journalism post grad. As a political science major I have hopes to attend law school after I graduate. Journalism has always been a backup plan for me as it’s something I love but not more than law. However, at multiple of my sessions the speakers were lawyers. Lindsie Rank is a lawyer for FIRE (foundation for individual rights and expression) and led a session on how to cover sexual assault legally. After this session I realized how much my two passions can intertwine.

I’m passionate about student press freedom and law and those two go together more than I ever realized. As a Lawyer I can specialize in press and the first amendment, this would give me the opportunity to protect student journalists. Being a student journalist will give me many advantages if I choose this specialization because I have an understanding on the legality as the writer. For example, Libel is something that many journalists may get sued over, meaning I would benefit being a previous student journalist if I took on a case like that.

I am also very familiar with Law and the constitution meaning that as a student journalist I know what I need to be careful about. My first session of the whole conference was a session on how to protect yourself as a student journalist. There are many political risks for student journalists and because many of us may not have the best understanding on the legality of journalism students are vulnerable and easily taken advantage of. 

My biggest takeaway from all these sessions is how important it is for us to be aware of the rights we have. We are protected by the first amendment and even though we go to a private university we are still protected by them. We must be careful that we do not violate any laws however we need to be aware of possible censorship and avoid that at all costs because we are protected by the law.

Netty Jurriaans is a reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at jurriaan25@up.edu.

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How we can Utilize Chat GPT as Journalists

Everyone knows the phenomenon that is Chat GPT. While we all try to navigate this new website we are coming across both negative and positive benefits. Despite all the negatives, Chat GPT isn’t going anywhere so we might as well figure out how to use it for good.

As journalists we won’t get much use once we’re writing our stories but prior to interviews and structuring our articles Chat GPT may be more helpful than we know. In one of my sessions this week at the College Media Association conference in NYC Paige Clancy from Vanderbilt university spoke about how Chat GPT can benefit journalism. It’s important to understand what you are looking for before you begin your interview process and asking clarifying questions to Chat GPT may help you. Asking questions at interviews is vital, but how do u ask the right questions in a time crunch—again Chat GPT might word them better than you could. And when it comes to structuring the story Chat GPT can provide an outline or even highlight the most important information that your audience will need. Journalism is about communicating with people but we can use Chat GPT to make that communication more efficient and help us provide the best stories for our readers. 

I thought it would be interesting to ask Chat GPT some questions that may relate to an article or journalism in general. I thought the answers were super helpful, so I have attached them below!

Chat GPT knows about The Beacon! Overall while some of their information is incorrect most of it is not. As long as we use this for good I can see it making a positive impact on journalism!

Netty Jurriaans is a reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at jurriaan25@up.edu.

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Exploring the unique structures of podcasts

Journalism is often correlated with published written work and its associated media (images, pictures, etc.). One aspect of journalism that’s often overlooked, though, is podcasts and the benefits of utilizing speech over pure text. Today I got the experience to learn more about the art of podcasting and how one should best utilize their voice to engage an audience.

Introduction to the podcast session.

Before beginning a podcast, “warming up” is essential to develop a voice comfortable for yourself and your audience. As a group in the meeting, we all practiced slang, various accents, and even an opera-style signing voice to allow for unique voice fluctuations that are essential to captivate an audience in a podcast. Simply using a monotonous, generic voice while podcasting can create boredom and the listener may leave uninterested in an otherwise interesting news story.

We also used this practice to develop a liking of our own voices. Many people, including myself, sometimes don’t like the sound of our voices since it comes out sounding different from what we hear in our heads. Therefore, practicing through conducting more and more podcasts is what helps you the most.

The speakers presenting during the session.

Another key thing, as mentioned before, is the importance of using good annunciation, grammar, and punctuation to avoid sounding lazy, boring, or careless. The speakers mentioned not to sound like an older man speaking into his phone at the back of a coffee shop because the sound of that speaking sparks no interest for the listener. Speaking succinctly and effectively also gives the speaker more credibility and your audience will want to hear your podcast and even future ones that you might refer to.

Learning how to utilize one’s voice with emphasis and narration.
Learning to become comfortable with one’s own voice when narrating a podcast.

Finally, it’s key to sound natural during the podcast. Artificial and oftentimes awkward pauses that aren’t needed should not be included in the podcast. Rather, use a conversation-like style in which you feel comfortable speaking and don’t need to hesitate or kill time just to finish the podcast in a coerced way.

Using podcasts effectively can convey important news events in a compact way. By speaking succinctly and uniquely in these podcasts, you can lock in your audience to want to know more. At The Beacon, we have utilized podcasts occasionally, but it’s an area we can rely on more heavily, especially when there’s sources to chat conversationally versus the more rigid interview style that’s often used by reporters for standard news stories.

-Michael Lang

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