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Rachel Rippetoe|

Networking is something that I’ve watched and admired from afar, but never really thought I was capable of doing myself – kind of like watching someone perform brain surgery on Grey’s Anatomy. I’m awkward and bad at small talk and no matter how many times I brush my hair it still looks unbrushed. Networking is all about first impressions and I am terrible at first impressions.

Because of this debilitation, I have always been somewhat dismissive of the term. I’ve grown out of admiration and into slight resentment for those who can do networking well, landing those career-changing gigs from grabbing coffee with someone they met on Twitter (I’m resisting the urge to roll my eyes as I type this). I tell myself that I’d rather let my work speak for itself, and no amount of DM’ing will get me a job I don’t deserve. But still, I felt a twist in my stomach heading to Washington D.C. last week for my first big-girl journalism conference, certain that I would be out-networked.

However, having survived (perhaps even thrived?) a three-day schmooze-fest, let me tell you, kids, it’s not as hard as it looks. Here’s what I’ve learned about networking from ONA this year:

  1. It never happens when you expect it to: 22279679_10214183971824061_4278557276463756106_nDid you totally sound like a dweeb at that “networking” luncheon you went to? Did you spill your drink on the News Editor at The Boston Globe? (Don’t worry, I didn’t actually do this. I did talk to her though, and she looked at me like, “Girl, Please” when I said I was a UP student applying to The Boston Globe internship.) Don’t sweat it. While receptions, luncheons, and beltlines designed specifically for networking can be useful, particularly because employers are on the hunt for young (and cheap) talent, they’re also nerve-wracking and not always effective. Everyone has their guard up in a strange hyper-networking, ‘let-me-pitch-myself-to-you-in-five-minutes’ kind of way. It’s hard to make a genuine connection. But conferences are great because everyone is bottled in the same space together, even after the awkward formalities are over. Olivia and I made much friendlier connections at the hotel bar later that night ordering french fries. We curated friendly faces through karaoke and coffee lines (good things come to those who wait….. in ridiculously long lines for caffeine). It’s easier to be yourself when you’re in a more natural setting. And your mom is right, simply being yourself can get you where you need to go. So let your hair down, pull your name tag off. Who knows who will be standing next to you when you do?
  2. Always go up and talk to the speakers you really really liked: 22281608_10214183981384300_7029370243282221246_n-1You will literally never, ever, ever regret it. You will, however, greatly regret it if you chicken out and shuffle out of the room as fast as possible. My first couple conferences in New York, I thought this was ridiculous. I would see people like Malika go up and chat with freaking Wesley Lowrey after a talk and I would be baffled. It was like watching brain surgery. I’d always tell myself that they probably have a million places to be right now and I have no business taking up their time. I’d also tell myself that I do not have a clever enough comment or question to impress them with, and I will just end up embarrassing myself. But I had to get over this when I went to David Fahrenthold’s session on interviewing. If you follow me on social media and pay even the slightest bit of attention, you should know that David Fahrenthold has been my deepest journalistic obsession for about a year now. He’s a Washington Post reporter who won the Pulitzer Prize this year for his reporting on Donald Trump’s charities and the breaking of the Access Hollywood tapes. My favorite thing about him, though, is his first-person account in The Post in which he details the time he shot himself in the eye with his kid’s confetti gun. In seriousness, his career path is exactly what I want to do as a journalist (other than the graduating from Harvard and going straight to The Washington Post thing. That ship has sailed, unfortunately). All this being said, I had to go up and talk to him after he gave a knock-out keynote. After this, my whole stance on talking to speakers shifted. He was the nicest guy and talked with us for over 20 minutes. I didn’t even care that the people in line behind me were peeved. We talked to a few other people after panels and keynotes with our new-found confidence. And not once did we have a bad experience. Always, always do it.
  3. Be genuine: 22310508_10214183973544104_3779407442244115096_nThere is a caveat to the #2 tip above. Don’t talk to someone just to talk to them. Don’t talk to them for their title. Don’t talk to them JUST because you think you might get a job out of it. The reason my really good interactions went really well is that I knew the people I was talking to and I was genuinely excited to talk to them. Networking isn’t just about getting a job. It’s about learning. Learning more about yourself, more about the work that you want to do. I didn’t talk to people like David because I thought he would hire me. I knew he had a job I wanted and I knew he did that job really well and I wanted to know more about his experience, and about what kind of person he is so I can determine whether I can be that kind of person. Call me crazy, but I’m not going to go and DM him on Twitter now asking if he’ll put in a good word for me on my Post application. I got exactly what I needed out of our conversation. Not a job, just reassurance that I’m in the right place doing what I’m meant to be doing.
  4. Is it all a myth anyway?22281547_10214183982024316_3886781855690825578_n This gets me to my last bit. I’m still not convinced that this whole network thing isn’t all a hoax. While journalists might call ONA a “networking conference” (the conference bit is true for all the useful sessions about new technology and online strategies), I’d rather call it a “support group”. As it was pointed out in the panel “How to Get Shit Done”, this journalism gig is really hard, harder than most jobs. Vice said it best: Journalism is terrible for your mental health. It’s an exhausting, mentally draining job and you have a whole outside world telling you half the time that your work doesn’t matter. So maybe instead of looking at these conferences as stress-inducing networking fiestas, we should say screw it, life is stress-inducing, let’s get a cocktail and talk about the ways we can take care of ourselves. I loved all the “real talk” panels featuring real journalists talking about real challenges in their lives and how to face them head-on. What I got the most of out of this schmooze-fest had nothing to do with schmoozing, really. I learned that even big fancy WaPo writers wait until 2 in the morning to finish their articles because that’s the only time they can write well. I listened to accomplished journalists describe habits and situations that I’ve actually been in/can relate to. I learned that it’s not as hard as I think to live in Washington D.C. as a young person. I learned that I can do this job, even if its hard.

So, network THAT, b*tch.

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#ONA17

By Olivia Sanchez

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Rachel, Rachel & I at the Washington Post

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Olivia Sanchez, Rachel Ramriez, Nancy Copic and Rachel Rippetoe at the Facebook party at Newseum

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Look, the capitol!

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Facebook party at Newseum!

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MJ Bears fellows give early career advice

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Truth, trust and media panel

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The art of getting s*** done panel

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a map I found in the exhibition hall of places conference attendees have reported from and what they reported on!

#ONA17 was an amazing experience. It was so great to be around people who are doing what I want to do (and doing it well). I feel reinspired and and ready to fill out the millions of internship apps I have due within the next month! Here is some of what I learned!

My takeaways:

  1. Never let one source make or break your story. Do enough reporting that you can do your story even if a big source blows you off. Never be in a position where you’re relying on one person.
  2.  Be patient in interviewing. Stay even after you get a good quote. Wait for people to open up to you.
  3. Do ambitious journalism.
  4. Don’t tie your identity to your job.
  5. Go above and beyond. Always say yes in the newsroom. Always be willing to do more.

My favorite sessions and what I learned:

The Art of Getting S**t Done
This session was done in panel format, and featured Justin Ellis (ESPN), S. Mitra Kalita (CNN Digital), and Elena Bergeron (SB Nation).  The description on the conference app said the session was designed for “anyone who wants real-world advice on accomplishing their goals.” And, “this is meant to be a candid, real-world conversation about what it takes to move something to your “done” column.

This was one of my favorite sessions because the panelists were open and honest about what it is like to work, and succeed in this industry, and still be a person. Some major things I learned from this session include:

  • You need to be able to thrive on change
  • What are the ideas I’m most passionate about? Prioritize. Organize your life around these.
  • Celebrate even the small victories
  • Don’t waste people’s time
  • Have other things (besides your job) in your life that mean a lot to you. Spend time and energy on these regularly.
  • Eat healthy to be more productive!!
  • Send “atta boy” emails on Friday (shoutouts to coworkers), and your work week goals to your boss on Monday.
  • To be a successful leader, you need to ask for help. Ask for input. Understand the decisions you’re making and the impacts they will have on others

Trust, Truth and Questions for the Media

This was the keynote on the first day of the conference and it was by far one of the best sessions I attended. It was moderated by Brian Stelter (CNN) and featured panelists Michelle Homes (Alabama Media Group), Elle Reeve (Vice), Nikole Hannah-Jones (New York Times Magazine), Cenk Uygur (The Young Turks) and Asma Khalid (WBUR).

The main topic of this session was the role of the media in the current political climate. It was great because all the panelists came from different backgrounds and publications, and all brought different viewpoints to the session. By far my favorite was Nikole Hannah-Jones and the way she talked about diversity issues in the media. She focused on the the need to give voice to marginalized communities who are so often left out of the news narrative the is promoted by mainstream media. She also was adamant about the need for diversity in newsrooms, and how important it is that reporters look like the communities that they are covering.

Panelists also discussed the importance of getting to know the communities you cover, not just popping in and out, but staying and returning and making sure that you have the real, full story.

Interviewing advice from David Farenthold

This session was awesome. David is awesome. #goals

  • If the front door doesn’t open, start outside and work your way in.
  • Go into interviews knowing more than your source
  • Always be polite
  • If someone is going to lie to you, let them tell the whole lie first. Then gently unravel it
  • Don’t worry about being annoying. It’s your job to get all the information
  • Let your sources talk! Be OK with silence. Never finish their sentences.
  • Never leave yourself open to unverified information, even if it’s coming from good intentions

 

 

 

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Last week, a couple of The Beacon staff and I attended the Online News Association (ONA) Conference held in Washington D.C.

My first time in the nation’s capital was unforgettable. Not only was I on the same rooftop at the Watergate Hotel as Carl Bernstein, but everything was absolutely a learning experience.

 

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A quick pose at the Watergate Hotel before we unexpectedly saw Carl Bernstein.

 

The first day of conference kicked off with a “first-timer’s” orientation. It was the first networking event, and the room was filled with enlightening conversations.

ONA featured some of the brightest minds in digital journalism. The keynote speakers were outstanding and inspiring.

The opening keynote, entitled “Trust, Truth and Questions for the Media,” was a panel moderated by Brian Stelter of CNN featuring Nikole-Hannah Jones of The New York Times, Michelle Holmes of Alabama Media Group, Asma Khalid of WBUR, Elle Reeve of Vice News Tonight and Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks.

 

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Opening Keynote Panelists

 

7 things I learned from them:

  1. Journalists must represent the powerless.
  2. Journalists should create a deep understanding of the underrepresented communities and listen to deep conversations.
  3. There is a fine line between neutrality and objectivity. We should not be seduced by neutrality.
  4. Use social media to search for stories coming from underrepresented communities.
  5. We need to stop covering the same communities, same people all the time.
  6. Report with racial lens and learn to establish trust.
  7. We need to focus on stories that do not involve the Trump administration.

“There are so many inequality and segregation issues out there that did not root from the president,” Jones said. “It has always been there. He just made these issues transparent.”

 

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David Fahrentold of The Washington Post and I

 

One session featured the famous David Fahrentold, an investigative reporter with The Washington Post who is a Pulitzer Prize winner.

5 tips for expert interviewing (Fahrentold Edition):

  1. If people lie, let them tell the whole lie first then jump in and walk them through the lie.
  2. Social media is a tool for crowdsourcing. For example, you can use Twitter to gather information.
  3. Store all the information you can find, so when you need it again, you can go back and check again.
  4. Organize your notes! It will be useful in the future.
  5. When you walk into interviews, you have to completely be prepared and knowledgeable with information.

 

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More with the Washington Post

 

Another thing that journalists should be mindful of is that trust requires:

  • A way for the public to be heard.
  • A way for the newsroom to listen.

We must build relationships and check in with them consistently. Don’t just reappear when you need something.

One session was a talk led by quantitative futurist, Amy Webb. By closely examing fundamental shifts in human behavior or trends, she was able to point out what is in store for the future of journalism.

We also attended networking events hosted by Facebook and the Knight Foundation, TEGNA, The Washington Post and Google.

 

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From left to right: News Managin Editor Olivia Sanchez, Me (Senior Reporter/Multimedia Producer), The Beacon Advisor Nancy Copic and Editor-in-Chief Rachel Rippetoe

 

The final keynote address featured a satiric panel entitled “When Satire Is The Most Effective Political Coverage.” The speakers were Francesca Fiorentini of AJ+, Matt Negrin of The Daily Show, Melinda Taub of Full Frontal and were moderated by Versha Sharma of NowThis.

And while my body demanded for coffee every hour (Thank you, Google for the free coffee), I had an amazing time at #ONA17. My mind is currently filled with story ideas, and I cannot wait for next year’s conference in Austin, TX.

-Rachel Ramirez

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There is innovative, rich journalism happening on digital sites. Examples:  “The Counted Project” by Guardian U.S.;  the Online Journalism Awards winners including OPB’s coverage of the Oregon Standoff in Malheur County.

Publishers are dependent on Facebook in a big way to get their content out there, for better or worse. Also, Facebook Live video might be useful in increasing Beacon engagement/coverage.

Fidji Simo Director of Product, Facebook

Fidji Simo
Director of Product, Facebook

From the data analysts at Chartbeat:

Facebook traffic peaks at 10 p.m. Is there a mismatch between when we are posting and when users are on Facebook?

Emotion drives social shares.

Stories popular in Google search are information-driven. People search for specific topics of interest to them.

Affirmation of the importance of  The Beacon staying UP-centric: Websites that stay true to their mission (their “niche”) have the most loyal audiences.

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“We are in a post-broadcast world.” – Ashley Codianni, Director of Social Media for CNN. Customize to platforms. At CNN, social is considered part of the process, not an afterthought.

“Reimagining what content is for every platform.”

In this election season: “Make sure your social media feeds are fact-checking candidates.”

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Cheyenne Schoen, Claire Duffy, Nancy Copic, Malika Andrews, Ben Arthur

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There are jobs out there for sharp college graduates with digital and journalism skills and experience via student media and/or internships.

ONA job board

ONA job board

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Tools and strategies working with a staff that can’t be in the same room: This session was practically a love letter to Slack. One piece of advice that resonated with me, the same advice I give students: Don’t have difficult/emotional conversations via text messaging.

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Nancy Copic, Ben Arthur, Cheyenne Schoen, Malika Andrews, Clare Duffy

You cannot overestimate the value of giving ambitious students the opportunity to learn and network with professionals.

 

 

-Nancy Copic, Ass’t Director for Student Media

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By Ben Arthur |

#1 THINK DIGITAL FIRST
-One of the most dominant themes at the entire conference is how both print newsrooms and TV stations are effectively (And ineffectively, for that matter) transitioning into the digital age. We have to get use to this fact. Digital is where the ship is going
– Think to yourself, “How can my written stories be told with graphics, video, audio and text all at once?”
– For you sports geeks out there, looking at how Bleacher Report operates. A sports reporter from the Denver Post told me to pay close attention to how they operate. They’ve developed a stellar online presence with Interactive social media, breaking news on their website, a magazine section, and video content. This is how we have to start thinking in this day and age!
#2 BECOME A CREATIVE STORYTELLER
– Figuring out ways to tell and tease your stories on every major social media (FB, Twitter, IG, snapchat etc.)
– Utilizing Facebook Live
#3 YOUR STORIES SHOULD BE ENGAGING AND INTIMATE
– audio/radio has traditionally been an intimidate medium; Using audio podcasts to tell stories (debating and human interest stories translate well)
– Video podcasts: short, informative, shows off your personality (People eat that up)
– Interactive graphics
#4 BEING MULTI-TALENTED IS MAJOR🔑
– Reporters: no longer acceptable to just be able to write. Learn how to shoot, edit video, get in front of the camera
#5 START THINKING ABOUT HOW YOU CAN PREPARE FOR THE FUTURE OF JOURNALISM
-Journalism jobs are going to be vastly difference because of technology just 5 years from now
– Journalism in the next 5-10 years will feature augmented & virtual reality, 360 degree video
– Look at some of the most popular apps & other hot technology and ask yourself, “How can this same concept be applied to journalism?”

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ONA16 Perks: Exclusive access to the Denver Press Club. Photo by: Nancy Copic.

By Clare Duffy |

Conferences are a whirlwind – there is learning, there is networking, and there is a marked lack of sleeping. This was my second ONA conference, and while I pretty much never stop thinking about The Beacon, there was an additional thing on my mind this year: My post-grad life in journalism.

This was a simultaneously thrilling and frightening subject to meditate on, but ONA16 was yet another reminder that there are many options for what my place in the journalism industry could look like, and that the journalism industry is the same exciting, inspiring, innovative field I’ve always loved.

Here are my biggest take-aways from the week:

  • “Doing Digital” can be a job in and of itself. I’ve always had this idea that if you work on the digital end of things, you’ll be “doing digital” for a print publication or a broadcast station, basically just pushing their content out online. However, I met so many people whose job is to create content and break news solely for online or on social – and it works so much better when it’s native to the platform. A good reminder for The Beacon and for life.
  • As we work to report more and more about issues of diversity on campus, one thing I was reminded of at the “Telling Diverse Stories” panel lead by MSNBC/NBC journalists (including Trymaine Lee, who was arrested in Ferguson while reporting), is that it is important to fact check and “sensitivity check” your stories about diverse communities with a member of that community, even if there is not a representative in your newsroom. However, it is important to avoid having a “token” representative from a community that you always rely on, silencing other voices.
  • An interesting note from this session, too, was this fact from a Gallup poll last week: “Trust in mainstream media is the lowest it has ever been.” I think this must motivate us to continue telling the stories that matter, getting into the communities we’re reporting on, and using data and authoritative facts to back up the human side of stories.
  • A reminder for breaking stories in the age of digital: When you update a breaking story on the same breaking page, re-tease it and change the headline to reflect the new news and make sure your readers are going back for the most current info.
  • Facebook Live! I have never heard the words “Facebook Live” so many times in a 72-hour period. Journalists are REALLY into Facebook Live right now, so it’s a tool I’ll be looking to learn how to use well ASAP. CNN’s Social Media manager suggests using Facebook Live to take people inside somewhere they wouldn’t normally get to go, to make them feel like they’re really there (for example: inside a volcano in Indonesia – that was a real thing).
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The first keynote was a talk with the Head of Product with Facebook, who spoke about opportunities for journalists to monetize on Facebook.

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ONA16 Beacon crew.

By CHEYENNE SCHOEN |

On reporting…

  • Use analytics to your advantage. Social media is a huge source of traction to news websites. Use data from Google Analytics to determine the most strategic way to bring in readers. Use analytics to see where most traffic is coming from. Tailor each social media post to that specific channel. Facebook posts are going to look different than Twitter posts, etc.
  • Appeal to your readers’ sense of empathy. Fidji Simo, the director of product at Facebook, talked about how consumers want to see the news that they can feel personally connected to. Facebook Live is one way to achieve this. The best part? Anyone with a smartphone can do it.
  • Report with a community, not on it. Know your readers and their interests and incorporate them into the coverage. User engagement is important and will make users more loyal to your source if they feel like their opinion matters.
  • Acknowledge your blind spots. Every reporter carries with them their own biases and identities. According to panelists from “Latinos and the 2016 Election: Reporting on Communities Regardless of Your Background,” diversifying coverage is essential to sharing the voices and opinions of those who might otherwise be overlooked. It is important to recognize that your coverage has blind spots and to listen to the needs of the minorities in the community to try and make up for those blind areas of coverage.

On networking…

  • Follow-up. After you meet someone it is important to follow-up with them. It’s polite to say thank you, and it also leaves an impression that is more lasting than a handshake. You can send a handwritten card (best) but an email works as well.
  • Play the “student card.” Professionals like talking to students. We’re young, willing to learn and are (sometimes) impressionable. But most of all, people love talking about their work. This means that people will love to talk to you all about their jobs and might even try to get you on-board with them.
  • Loosen up. A lot of professionals are just like grown-up versions of us. They party, dance and eat enchiladas. Yes, be professional; but don’t get so focused on a firm handshake that you forget to have fun.

 Other cool tips:

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You can create Chat Bots to answer questions for your readers. For example,  a bot that answers basic questions about the election could supplement a story about the election to answer additional questions readers might have.

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According to Amy Webb, founder of the Future Today Institute, journalists of the future will be heavily involved in using digital tools and data to design interactive interfaces. I disagree that reporters’ jobs will be obsolete, but I understand that a lot of the work reporters do now could be done by bots in the near-future.

 

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