Archive for the ‘Associated Collegiate Press’ Category

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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Ben Arthur|

It’s been a whirlwind of an adventure in New York! From the amazing tours, to the sightseeing, to the delicious (and often overpriced) food, it’s been a trip to remember.

Although I am sad to see the conference come to an end, I’m grateful for the opportunity to have learned so much about journalism in a three-day span. Honestly, there was NO better way to top off all that that I learned than with one last session about the different journalism-friendly apps and websites available that I can utilize back on the Bluff!

I highly encourage all Beacon staffers and aspiring journalists to check out all these cool tools:IMG_2347


  • Snaplight- Gives you the ability to highlight text in screenshots. Super useful if you see cool quotes in articles that you want to share!
  • TapeACall- For $7.99/year, you can record your calls. Can come in handy for those of you that struggle with transcribing phone interviews. I know I do at times. Just be sure to ask permission before you start recording! 
  • PCM recorder- Audio recording app
  • Skype recorder- Records skype calls
  • AudioNote- Allows user to take notes while recording audio
  • Reuters TV- Makes it easy to customize your own news broadcast
  • Snapseed- photo editing app (Google)
  • Oneshot- Highlights area of texts from screenshots (Similar to Snaplight)
  • Giphycam- Creates ‘gifts’ that you an include with your tweets and other social media postings
  • Hyperlapse- Creates time lapse videos (if you don’t already have the built-in feature in your phone)
  • Bubbli- Creates panoramic/360 images
  • Printicular- Allows you to print pics straight from your phone
  • EverNote- You can save just about anything in this app. Photos, files, videos, links, you name it.
  • Instapaper- Any cool or interesting articles that you found browsing on the internet that you want to save for later? This app is the one for you


  • Otranscribe.com- As reporters, the tediousness of transcribing interviews is not new to us. This website helps you to streamline that process 
  • rapportive.com- Displays all of the email sender’s social media profiled (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)

These are just a few of the many that stood out to me! The complete list can be found in the slideshow at this link.


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Congrats to Beacon Sports Editor Malika Andrews for placing Fifth for Sports Story of the Year in the prestigious annual Associated Collegiate Press competition.

Malika at the ONA15 conference

Malika at the ONA15 conference

Here’s her winning story.

And here is the complete list of winners and finalists for ACP Story of the Year in every category.

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Looking back on my time in New Orleans is a bit difficult because the sheer volume of things I experienced is so great. On the one hand, the National College Media Convention was a dense barrage of new information about writing, reporting, photography, editing, social media – the list goes on. But every time I had the chance to rest my mind, I would walk out into New Orleans, which during Halloween season is a bombardment of bright lights, live music and outrageous costumes. The whole weekend fluctuated between mental overload and sensory overload. But in a good way.

One of the sessions that really stood out to me from the conference (mostly because I’m a huge nerd for writing in any form) was called “Writing Visually.” A photographer and a news writer led the session, outlining principles that are central to both written journalism and photojournalism. The basic idea is this hierarchy of traits in photography:

  1. Informational
  2. Graphically appealing
  3. Emotional
  4. Intimate

Basically, the argument was that these characteristics are just as applicable to news writing. Most important, or course, is information – each story needs to answer the who, what, when, where, why and how questions. The next step is for writing to sound nice and flow well. This should also be achievable in all stories. Emotion is not always possible in journalism – sometimes our job is just to present information to the public. But when stories can connect to readers’ emotions, they tend to have more impact. Finally, the best stories are intimate, meaning they can present a person, place or event in a way that most people will never be able to see.

-Philip Ellefson, Opinions Editor of The Beacon

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One of the most compelling presenters at the conference was Ted Jackson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist from the New Orleans Times-Picayune who prefers to be known simply as a journalist.SAM_0712

Jackson’s riveting account of covering Hurricane Katrina left many of us in tears. The backstory to the photo below went like this: He was on the end of a bridge overlooking the people standing on porch railings of their flooded house. As he took photos, a man yelled at him to stop. “This is an important moment, and the people of the world need to see this,” he said.

Then women asked for his help. They wanted to have the little girl cling to a log, which they intended to push through the water towards him so she could be saved. But Jackson said he knew the current would just carry her away before the log could reach him. So he said no. Eventually help arrived, and all of them were saved. But Jackson didn’t know that until one year later when the Times-Picayune did an anniversary special on Katrina. He found the family in a Houston shelter. They were happy to see him because they wanted to see the pictures he’d shot of them. “We need them for our family history,” they said.





Ted Jackson of the TImes-Picayune

Ted Jackson of the TImes-Picayune

 You need to care about the people you cover, Jackson told us. “Learn to see with your heart, ” he said.

More photos from Ted Jackson:




SAM_0719-Nancy Copic, Ass’t Director of Student Media

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A typical scene between sessions at the ACP convention: highly caffeinated and motivated student journalists hungry to learn tools of the trade, digital and otherwise.


Beacon Opinions Editor Philip Ellefson, Editor-in-Chief Kelsey Thomas and me before the Pacemaker awards ceremony on the final day of the convention. One of the reasons we went to the convention was that The Beacon was named a finalist.



None of us expected The Beacon to win. And it didn’t. But we were honestly thrilled just to be finalists, which entitled us to a shiny plaque. There was a small problem, though.SAM_0702

PS- Paging copy editor: Portland, Pennsylvania?SAM_0701

You can see the list of Pacemaker winners here.

Nancy Copic

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As the sun rose over the Mississippi River, more than 2000 collegiate journalists and their advisers prepared for Day One of the Associated Collegiate Press convention in New Orleans.

Kelsey, Philip and I had to choose from dozens of sessions. So many looked so interesting, so relevant to media in general and student media in particular. Among the highlights for me this day: sessions on infographics, critiquing and sexual assault on campus.


At least some millennials have an affinity for newspapers. Most of them are at this convention, apparently.

At least some millennials have an affinity for newspapers. Most of them are at this convention, apparently.

Online infographics

Alex V Cook, adviser of The Daily Reveille at Louisiana State University led this session on using Tableau Public and Google Fusion Tables to make digital infographics. He spent a few minutes emphasizing what we already know: People don’t read newspapers so much anymore, especially younger people. He referenced a term coined by Google: Generation C , so called because they create, curate and collaborate on content.  And by doing so, they create community.

He spoke about the importance of telling stories in new ways, specifically infographics. What skill do journalists today need to know?  Excel.  They need to learn how to find a large amount of data, crunch the numbers and find the story.

As an example, he showed some infographics from a story about the salary of Les Miles, LSU’s football coach. They made the charts from the free software, Tableau. He also recommended Google Fusion Tables, which The Beacon already is using for its online Public Safety reports.


Critiquing for Real

This session offered some fresh ways to approach what is for The Beacon and me a weekly ritual. Dan Close from Wichita State University led this. Many of his suggestion were simply ways to “frame” or “brand” the critique.


His ideas included:

1)  A Top Ten List (the best and perhaps the worst?)

2) The good, the bad and the really ugly

3) Have sources critique your coverage. Or invite alums or students from an editing class.

4) Have critique be content-specific each week. For example, focus on ledes one week, photos the next, news judgment the following week.

Underlying all of these techniques is the notion that a critique is an important teaching tool. They should be supportive and explanatory

Speaking of editing, ACP had a copy editing/geography problem. Notice anything wrong with Kelsey’s name tag? It was a reoccurring theme throughout the conference.

Portland, Pennsylvania? Hello, copyeditor?

Portland, Pennsylvania? Hello, copyeditor?
Critique workshop

Campus Rape Coverage Success Stories

Editors of three college newspapers that have aggressively covered sexual assault on their campus spoke about the resistance and challenges they faced and the gratification of perseverance. In all cases, they said their administrations seemed more concerned about university image than sexual assault. The editors also criticized the practice of treating sexual assault as a disciplinary matter rather than the crime that it is.

“These people (university disciplinary boards) aren’t trained to handle these things,” Samantha Vicente , an editor from the student newspaper at Oklahoma State University, said.

But Nicole Comparato of The Daily Tarheel at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said it was important for student journalists to persevere in covering this issue, despite resistance from university administration.

“You really can make a huge difference in raising awareness, she said.

Nicole Comperato (UNC, Chapel Hill), Samantha Vicent (Oklahoma St. University), Katie Taggert (Otterbein)

Nicole Comperato (UNC, Chapel Hill), Samantha Vicent (Oklahoma St. University), Katie Taggert (Otterbein)


-Nancy Copic, Ass’t Director of Student Media and Adviser to The Beacon

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Kelsey Thomas, Philip Ellefson and I landed late tonight in New Orleans, where we will spend most of the next four days in conference rooms with 2300 other college journalists and their advisers. We’re here for the Associated Collegiate Press fall convention, a whirlwind of workshops on all things college media. But tonight, on the eve of the convention, we took a walk down Bourbon Street.

Lest you think things got too wild, I will tell you that in the midst of this hedonistic haven, Kelsey checked in with The Beacon crew at home putting together tomorrow’s edition. Here is a photo of her reviewing the PDF of page one. That’s dedication.photo-19


Now, as the moon glows above the Mississippi, The Beacon delegation will try to get a few hours of sleep before diving in to #CollegeMedia13.


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It started with a tweet from Ryan Frank, publisher at Emerald Media Group, which publishes the University of Oregon’s student newspaper and website, The Daily Emerald.photo 1 Editor-in-Chief of The Beacon Kelsey Thomas saw that, and set off her own flurry of tweets…photo ephoto dphoto cphotophoto bphoto 4photo a“Yay” is right. The Beacon is a finalist for the Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker Award, a national award that’s been given out for 86 years and widely considered to be the most prestigious award in college media. 

There are three categories: daily newspaper,  non-daily newspaper and two-year (community college) newspapers. The Beacon, in the non-daily category, is in impressive company.

Among the 22 colleges and universities whose student newspapers are finalists for the non-daily Pacemaker Award:  Massachusetts Institute of Technology,  Boston College, George Washington University, University of Oregon, Wake Forest University, Johns Hopkins University, and Washington University in St. Louis. Not too shabby.

Finalists in the daily category include Northwestern University, Harvard, Penn State, University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers, and University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. You get the idea.

According to ACP, the staff of the esteemed Miami Herald judged this year’s entries on:

  • coverage and content
  • quality of writing and reporting
  • leadership on the opinion page
  • evidence of in-depth reporting
  • layout and design
  • photography, art and graphics

You can read more about the judges’ criteria here.

Pacemaker winners in the non-daily category in recent years include student newspapers from University of Chicago, Boston College, Washington University, Santa Clara University, Butler University, Loyola Marymount University, San Francisco State University and Villanova University.

The Associated Collegiate Press will announce this year’s Pacemaker winners at the ACP convention in New Orleans on Oct. 26.


-Nancy Copic, Adviser to The Beacon

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