Archive for the ‘The Beacon staff blog, University of Portland’ Category


ONA16 Beacon crew.


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:


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.


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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Susman is showing us the belt she hid $800 in, which helped her escape after she was kidnapped. On the screen is a photo of her celebrating after getting free.

Susman shows us the belt she hid $800 in, which helped her escape after she was kidnapped. On the screen is a photo of her celebrating after getting free.

by Clare Duffy |

Many people, when you tell them you want to be a journalist, look at you like you’ve just grown a second head.

Even more people, when you tell them you want to be a foreign correspondent, look at you like you’ve grown a third.

And the majority of people, when you tell them that a former foreign correspondent’s story of being kidnapped on the job and talking her way out of it made you excited, will look at you with the half-confused, half-sympathetic smile of someone who’s just realized the person they’ve been talking to doesn’t actually speak English, and shuffle away.

Welcome to many an uncomfortable family dinner I’ve attended in recent years.

But it’s true, and Tina Susman’s presentation about her career as a foreign correspondent was thus truly the cherry on top of my CMA 2016 experience.

What had once seemed such a foreign and far-off goal for my future (no pun intended), became so vividly real and tangible, as she recounted memories of a harrowing drive through the Kashmir Mountains and wandering in disguise through the streets of Baghdad.

Not a great photo, but on the screen (left) is Susman dressed as an Iraqi woman standing next to an older Iraqi woman she met on the street.

Not a great photo, but on the screen (left) is Susman dressed as an Iraqi woman standing next to an older Iraqi woman she met on the street.

And beyond the wild experiences she had had and the horrible things she had seen, Susman spoke of the goodness of many of the people she encountered along the way, and this truly hit at the heart of why I want to be a journalist abroad. People who speak different languages helping one another to make sure marginalized voices are heard, people of vastly disparate backgrounds coming together to promote the spread of truth in times of crisis, this power for social good that journalism allows has driven me in this direction. And in every sad or upsetting or infuriating story she told, these bits shined through – the translator who helped her when she knew no one after being sent on a last-minute assignment to cover the earthquake in Haiti, the hotel bellman who aided in her escape after being kidnapped in Somalia, the other foreign journalists living abroad whom she would invite over for tea in the midst of an often chaotic work environment.

I’m not sure where I’ll end up when I leave school and can stop pretending to devote my resources to anything other than journalism (just kidding, Mom), but I hope that wherever I am, I’ll be able to speak with the humble candor and genuine appreciation for the experiences that Susman exuded during her presentation. And that I, too, will be so willing to help and encourage young journalists that I’ll stay an hour beyond my allotted presentation time to answer their questions.

Thank you, Tina.

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Clare and Malika: The next Kathie and Hoda?

Clare and Malika: The next Kathie and Hoda?

by Clare Duffy |

Networking: A word that strikes fear into the hearts of many, mine included.

Until I discovered that “networking,” when done properly, is really just a fancy way of saying, “talking with smart, passionate people about things that you love” – that doesn’t sound half bad, does it? Not to mention that building a network is crucial in the journalism industry: people who are also new to the trade and seasoned vets, people in a variety of different positions and specialties, people who can give you advice and to whom you can offer something as well.

All this we’d been working on since our first professional conference experience at ONA15 in September. And it came in handy just hours after we’d touched down in New York for CMA16 and were talking about everything from marriage to interviewing Oprah with an editor from Ebony Magazine.

Making these kinds of connections is all about putting yourself out there, keeping them is all about maintaining relationships without always asking for something and you can take advantage of them when you’re in their city and take them for coffee or visit their newsroom.

The view from the Time Inc. building at sunset.

The view from the Time Inc. building at sunset.

While we were in New York, we visited the Washington Post, Sports Illustrated and the Today Show, and had coffee with reporters at CBS and International Business Journal. When it comes to setting up these sorts of meetings, don’t be afraid to ask – people generally like talking about what they do and showing younger journalists the ropes. But, also be extra gracious and thankful, as they are no doubt pushing back a deadline or extending their workday for you.

Behind the scenes at the Today Show.

Behind the scenes at the Today Show.

In each of these meetings, there were several common pieces of advice:

  1. Seek out and appreciate good editors.
  2. Respect the learning process and don’t try to jump too far too fast without a solid foundation.
  3. It’s all about who you know, so keep making and maintaining these kinds of connections (you never know where they might take you).

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When I saw the email subject line “Gold Circle Winners Announced,” my reflex was to steel myself for disappointment. My expectations could not have been lower.

Gold Circle Awards are national awards from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association based at the graduated school of the Columbia School of Journalism in N.Y. There are so many better-funded, impressively-staffed college journalism programs and student media programs out there, I believed The Beacon could maybe score an honorable mention. At best.

Not that I don’t swell with pride over the work of the students journalists at The Beacon. I obviously had enough faith to enter The Beacon’s work. It’s just that, well, our little Beacon, we’re not really in the major leagues.

Are we?

The email revealed the surprising (to me, at least) answer: Yes, at least in 6  awards categories.

Six awards and three certificates of merit (honorable mention). Did I mention these are national awards?

So… drumroll, please, I am thrilled to announce The Beacon won the following Gold Circle Awards:

Editorial Writing- 2nd place: Caitlin Yilek and Rosemary Peters- “Where are all the women?”

Personal Opinion: On-campus issues- 3rd place: Caitlin Yilek- “Breaking my silence”

Personality Profile- 2nd Place: Laura Frazier- “Impossible is Nothing”

Certificate of Merit: Natalie Wheeler- Homeless teen turned UP student

Overall design:Tabloid format- 2nd place:  Hannah Gray, Rosemary Peters, Elizabeth Tertadian

Page one design,tabloid format -2nd Place: Hannah Gray-“‘Big Bang Theory’ star returns to The Bluff”

Certificate of Merit:Hannah Gray, Rosemary Peters- “Would you pay $6.95 for this?”

Single subject news or feature package, single page, tabloid- 3rd Place: Will Lyons and Shellie Adams- “Netflix Nosedives”

Certificate of Merit: Rosemary Peters – “What’s in our air?”

Where are they now?

Of the eight students who won Gold Circle Awards, four graduated from UP last May:

Former Beacon Editor-in-Chief Rosemary Peters, who was an engineering major at UP, is pursuing her interest in scientific journalism at Imperial College London, where she will earn an master’s in Science Communication.

Former Beacon news editor Hannah Gray does research for a think tank in Washington, D.C.

 Caitlin Yilek is an editorial writer and copy editor for the St. Cloud Times in her home state of Minnesota.

Natalie Wheeler won a Snowden Foundation paid journalism internship, and is currently reporting at the East Oregonian in Pendleton.

Now for the four returning Beacon staffers who won Gold Circle Awards:

Liz Tertadian is editor-in-chief of The Beacon.

Laura Frazier is news editor of The Beacon. She also won a Snowden Foundation internship, and worked as a reporter for the Portland Tribune and Forest Grove News-Times last summer.

 Will Lyons is opinions editor of The Beacon.

 Shellie Adams is design editor of The Beacon.

‘Looking forward to more astonishing achievements from these students and alums!

-Nancy Copic, Ass’t Director of Student Media & adviser to The Beacon

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This year’s CMA spring college media convention keynotes covered an entertaining spectrum spanning  “old media,” “new media” and media/journalism satire:

Carr and Stelter “star” in “Page One, the definitely worth-your-time documentary about The New York Times’ ongoing and sometimes painful transition to the digital age.

Now for some  highlights/quotes from their presentations, which riveted the student journalists, at least the ones from the University of Portland.

David Carr

“The fact I used to be a coke dealer is probably the most interesting thing about me.”

“I’m absolutely stunned that I work at The New York Times.”

“Being a reporter is a lot more complicated than it used to be.” (because of having to tweet, blog, shoot and edit video, etc.)

“Nothing stays written. It’s a rolling, organic process.”

“People who are brought up blogging. they write clean…and you know what? I’m not that clean of a writer.”

“The cool time to be doing what you’re going to be doing is right now.”

“It’s about “how much shit can you put out and on how many platforms.”

“You have to have a relentless curiosity.”

“Be incredibly frickin’ stubborn.”

About what sometimes passes as journalism but isn’t: ” People say you are entitled to your own opinion, but you shouldn’t be entitled to your own facts. I worry about that.”

“You should run with winners. These guys you’re in school with, that’s probably who you’re going to be in business with…Don’t hang with the cynical, bitchy people who never accomplish anything.”

David Carr of The New York Times with University of Portland students from The Beacon staff

With his constant blogging, tweeting, video-shooting, Carr wonders: “Am I losing my ability to think long thoughts?”

On hard times: “I was 34 years old on welfare, unemployed, single father of two, had cancer, washed up in my business.”

On his transformation from unemployed drug addict to iconic journalist: “I am genetically ambitious. I did not come from super bright people. But I came from super hard workers.”

Carr talked about loving to read as a child: “My head filled with words and the words have sort of been spilling out ever since.”

Carr’s literary influences:

  • “Moby Dick”
  • “Another Bullshit Night in Suck City” (Nick Flynn)
  • Hunter S. Thompson
  • Kurt Vonnegut
  • Gay Talese

Brian Stelter – Media Reporter for The New York Times

Growing up, he wanted to be a TV news anchor and pretended he was one, sitting in front of a sheet draped behind a desk in his basement. “I guess, in a silly way,  I was practicing, “Stelter said.

At age 10-11, he started a website called “The Bumps,” on which he reviewed books from the Goosebumps series. Later, he started a website about Nintendo games.

In college, he ran the student newspaper at Towson University, and told students at NYC 12 it  was “the best journalism experience I ever had.” Apparently, it wasn’t enough. He started a blog about TV news his freshman year, blogging anonymously the first six months.  He says the best thing he did was putting an anonymous tip box on the website. People started feeding content to the blog, TVnewser. He kept at it all four years of college and built a following by sending links to people in the industry.  Network news anchors took notice. Stelter was interviewed by MSNBC  -“The 20-year-old who rules the news” – but his anchor dreams were fading. He was balding when he graduated from college.

But things worked out just fine for Stelter, who sold the blog to Mediabistro and was hired by the Times at age 21. In the documentary Page One, his older, less-digital colleague David Carr referred to Stelter as “a robot assembled to destroy me.”

Stelter, 26, offered his audience of student journalists a shot of optimism with some advice on the side:

“I learned so much more from my college paper than I did from my classes.”

“There are jobs in journalism these days… They have to be earned.”

“There’s been a forest fire that has swept through the industry with fury…There’s something about a forest fire that I find somewhat helpful…We are the young sapplings that are starting to come out of the soil.”

“Think about what you can do better than anyone else does… what you can do to be indispensable.”

Rather than climbing career ladders, “people will be coming in side doors.”

“I zig when other people zag. I try to cover unique things.”

Post frequently, he says.  Think of Twitter and Facebook “as if you’re anchoring your own personal newscast. You don’t want to have dead air.”

“Think before you tweet.”

“On Facebook and Twitter, you’re creating your own media company.”

“Everybody in here should be writing everyday.”

“Post unique original content…Go where the darkness is. There’s a lot of great stories in those space that aren’t being covered…Finding those stories that are right in front of you that are almost too big to write about because they’re so obvious.”

“I’ll let you in on a little secret: Credibility often comes from doing a lot, writing a lot.”

Beacon staffers Kate Peifer and Laura Frazier with New York Times media reporter Brian Stelter at NYC12.

“We’re all going to be video reporters in the future, which means we have to comb our hair.”

He predicts the New York Times will be doing hours of video a day, and encouraged the students to start now.

“To start practicing on video is crucial..The earlier you start, the better you’re going to be.”

Stelter’s parting advice:

  • See “Page One.” (“a shameless plug”)
  • Write every day and take photos every day.

Now for the “fake news” writers…

Hallie Haglund and Zhubin Parang from The Daily Show

Their advice for aspiring comedy writers:

“Write as much as possible… It’s a lot of practice. Writing and getting involved in a comedy community- New York or L.A.” -Parang

(Parang writes nine pages of jokes in an hour.)

“Write well… fast…getting in the habit of writing fast about something that just happened…(Do) whatever it takes to find your voice, which is writing a lot…creating a curriculum for yourself. Find out if you love it enough.”  -Haglund

Also, a comedy writer needs a thick skin; “If you have any sense of preciousness about your jokes, you will be crying everyday.”-Parang

Haglund on the subject of sexism in the male-dominated field of comedy: “I don’t think that, in terms of my career, asking myself that question has ever been useful to me in moving forward… In the arc of my career, I have never found walls that prevented me from getting where I am.”

As described by Parang and Haglund,  “The Daily Show” staff consists of 10 staff writers, correspondent Jon Oliver, a head writer, two executive producers and Jon Stewart.  “He always guides the narrative of whatever we do,” Haglund said.

For the record, their office is “dog friendly.”

Parang, who was working as a lawyer before he went into comedy professionally wrote for The Onion (50 bucks for a headline) before joining “The Daily Show.” To apply for the job, he had to submit a script with three headlines summarizing the news stories of the day. At that time, the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan were the top stories. What’s funny about that?

“In tragic situations, the comedy is the media’s reaction to it,” Parang said.

-Nancy Copic,  ass’t director of Student Media & Beacon adviser

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It’s been a whirlwind for four Beacon staffers at the annual National College Media Convention in New York City…and we’ve barely just begun! 

                      Beacon journalists Kate Peifer, Liz Tertadian, Laura Frazier and Jackie Jeffers at  Rockefeller Center (ie:30 Rock)

Nonstop from morning until early this evening, they attended journalism workshops with thousands of other college journalists from around the country. A sampling of topics: Libel, design, photojournalism, investigative reporting, management and leadership, mobile apps, public records.

A favorite presenter here is Michael Koretsky, who also happens to be the director of the convention. Below are some tidbits from his workshop about improving your page design in just a few minutes,doing the best you can with what you have. ‘Wish I could show you his before and after photos too!

  • Photos of people who look bored are boring photos.
  • Designers must read/understand stories.
  • Write headlines for students not bureaucrats.
  • No tombstone headlines
  • No  photos or headlines the same size on front page.
  • Always have a separate box for an event (time, place, date, etc.)
  • Dominant photo, headline.
  • Editors: You get hired to make bold decisions that are correct.
  • One pull quote per story per page
  • White space is your friend
  • Don’t misue clip art;Use clip art as section breaks.
…Much more to come. Stay tuned.

2012-2013 Beacon Editor in Chief Liz Tertadian at Michael Koretsky’s workshop

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The Beacon is now posting video on YouTube. The inaugural video is by photojournalist Scot Chia: a montage of the Dance of the Decades.

Thanks, Scot!

We are also embedding our videos on the multimedia page of  The Beacon’s website.

Dance of the Decades 2011, photo by Scot Chia, The Beacon

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Happy trails, Andy!

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Click here to get to the special section on Issuu.com. From there, you can also download it as a PDF file and print it.

2009-2010 Beacon Staff

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Watch for it this Thursday, April 15!

First issue of The Beacon- 1935

Beacon staff 1948

2001 staffers celebrate award-Nathan Dinsdale, Casey White, Sarah Ogle, Clinton Vining(1998) Joe Freeman-former Beacon asst. news editor, sports editor and news editor. CUrrently covers the Trailblazers for The Oregonian

Joe Freeman

(1976 photo)Former Beacon sports editor and editor-in-chief Pete Lesage, currently front page and Sunday editor for The Oregonian

1986-87 Beacon editor-in-chief Dan Christopherson, currently a sportscaster at KOIN TV

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