Katie Dunn |
There’s moments when you sit in class and think, ‘what in the world is going on? I swear we never learned any of this.’ In those moments, I catch myself questioning if I’m on the right track in school or working hard enough to understand what’s being taught. That lost feeling never happened when we were at the College Media Association conference in New York over spring break.
Unlike previous years, I found myself in sessions where I completely knew what they were saying and could related to the issues they were addressing. I knew what I would do in the face of ethical issues because we had faced them already, I knew the forms that held valuable information because we had already combed through them and I knew how hard it is to face some of the challenges related to student media because we had tackled through them. At these moments, I was so proud of the work we’ve been doing and continue to do at The Beacon.
Of course I learned new things, like how to better understand analytics on the website, understanding the importance of posting at the right time and on the right medium, the rights that students and student media holds via the Constitution and a solid list of questions to consider when facing ethical issues. While I was learning practical things to implement on the paper, I never caught myself hearing the speaker say, ‘this is what you should be doing’ and thinking, ‘oh crap we didn’t do that or don’t.’
In my new role as editor-in-chief there are more things I have to take in to account when I’m working on The Beacon. I no longer can get personally offended because someone dislikes something we’re doing. I have to be a strong leader for my staff so they know they can’t let it bother them either. One thing I learned in a session about not being the news was that we as a paper have to recognize how other people see the paper because that can impact how they react to something we do, positively or negatively.
All of the hard work that we put in every week to make the paper great can be overshadowed by one thing a group of people doesn’t like or agree with. On the other hand, a mistake that I can’t help but see every time I look at a printed page can be ignored by everyone else reading because all they see is a powerful story that gives voice to the voiceless. I was reassured at the conference that as long as we have sound reporting, our problems can’t be that egregious. At the end of the day I know our staff works so hard to turn out content the student body wants to read.
All of the strife and late nights and last minute changes seemed so inconsequential when we were sitting in the big ballroom hearing the announcement of the Apple Award for best paper (four-year college, under 5,000 students) and they said The Beacon, University of Portland. My heart skipped a beat as I walked up to collect the award because I knew we deserved it and worked so hard for this shiny red award. We just have to keep grinding out great things and knowing what we’re doing is necessary and important.