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The Beacon NY delegation: Cheyenne Schoen, Ben Arthur, Nancy Copic, Clare Duffy, Malika Andrews and Rachel Rippetoe

The Beacon NY delegation: Cheyenne Schoen, Ben Arthur, Nancy Copic, Clare Duffy, Malika Andrews and Rachel Rippetoe

By Nancy Copic, Beacon adviser

A few conference highlights compiled from 19 (!) pages of handwritten notes:

Keynote: Byron Pitts, reporter for ABC’s “Nightline”

This keynote was more inspirational than many sermons I’ve heard, and I’ve heard a lot of them. Byron Pitts may tell stories for a living, but his personal story is as compelling as any he’s reported as a network correspondent.

Raised by a young, low-income single mother in Baltimore, Pitts said he didn’t learn how to read until he was 12 or 13. Around that time, a “specialist” diagnosed him as mentally retarded and advised his mother to institutionalize him.  “Because you’re a person of limited means,” Pitts quoted the man as saying, “we recommend you put him an an institution.”

His mother wouldn’t have it, didn’t do that. What she did is take her boy to church.  A lot. She also wore a pendant in the shape of a mustard seed, a symbol of the faith that guides Pitts today.

“Raised Baptist, educated Catholic,” he says.

Pitts

Pitts ended up at Ohio Wesleyan University, where, as Pitts puts it, a professor saved his life. But first, another one told him he didn’t have what it took to succeed there. That news hit him hard, left him crying in a hallway on campus. Another professor, who was new to campus, noticed him crying and asked what was wrong. When he told her what the other professor said, she set him straight and told him not to give up. He stayed and he graduated.

Flash forward decades. Pitt is a famous Emmy-winning television journalist and he’s on the Board of Trustees at Ohio Wesleyan, who invites him to speak at graduation. Pitts tells his story at the ceremony, including the part about the professor who made him cry. After his speech, that professor, humbled and contrite walks up to him and tells him he’s sorry.

Did I mentioned he also was a stutterer when he was younger? “Being a stutterer has made me a better listener, ” he says

What bothers him? Indifference. He sees journalism an antidote.

“My profession needs you,” he said to the room full of student journalists from all over the country. “You are needed not just to speak the truth. You’re needed to help this world be better.”

Pitts thinks one of the most remarkable stories is about the resilience of the African American people as a race.

“I am the hope and dream of a slave,” he said. “My worst day is the best day for my great grandparents.”

Also, he writes thank you notes to everyone he interviews.

I think that’s remarkable. So is the fact that he stayed at least two hours to talk one-on-one with students who lined up to chat with him.

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Of course, Malika was one of them.

FBI Strategies of Interviewing

This was engaging. Clare, Cheyenne and Malika also gave it good reviews. Here are the strategies:

  1. Withhold judgment- Keep your feelings to yourself. Monitor your posture and tone. Give your source room to be who they are. (Verbal abuse does not work.)
  2. “Joining” Use language that shows you understand things from the other person’s perspective.
  3. “Mirroring”- Mimic body posture of the person you’re interviewing. If he leans back, you lean back (but not right away.)
  4.  Show curiosity- Use your body to show your curiosity. Nod at what they’re saying.
  5. Active Listening-Resist the urge to formulate your next question.
  6. Pay attention to personality types. Are they “thinking” types or “feeling” types?

Bonus tip for students: If your nervous for the interview, tell your source. It may create empathy.

 

Rachel, Cheyenne and Ben show their Beacon pride outside the theatre where Stephen Cobert does The Late Show

Rachel, Cheyenne and Ben show their Beacon pride outside the theatre where Stephen Colbert does The Late Show

Glossy Standards-The Ethics of Magazine Reporting and Editing

This panel featured:

  • Deborah Blum, Pulitzer-Prize winning science journalist and director of the Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT
  • Hank Hersch, assistant managing editor at Sports Illustrated
  • Andrew Seaman, chair of the ethics committee for the Society of Professional Journalists and senior medical journalist for Reuters in NYC
  • Derek Kravitz, contributing writer and news editor at The Wall Street Journal; researcher/instructor at Columbia University School of Journalism

The focus of this panel was fact checking and ethical debacles such as the Rolling Stone Rape story that was later discredited and actor Sean Penn’s (called “the ultimate freelancer.” by Andrew Seaman) much-maligned profile of drug lord El Chappo Guzman.

One interesting tidbit; If you’re a reporter for the Wall Street Journal and your published story needs to be corrected, the process is “incredibly embarrassing,” according to Derek Kravitz. You have to fill out a long form, which is circulated among several editors.

Andrews Seaman,Deboarh Blum ,Derek Kravitz and Hank Hersch

Andrews Seaman,Deboarh Blum ,Derek Kravitz and Hank Hersch

Big takeaway:”Keep that skeptical part of your brain always active.”

Beacon staffers getting their fact check on

Beacon staffers getting their fact check on

I lucked out with my chaperoning assignment. I escorted a group of students (from various universities from across the country) on a tour of the New York Times.

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Due to security concerns, we were not allowed to take photographs in the newsroom. But the lobby is interesting and was fair game. There’s a unique electronic art display that siphons words and phrases from the NYT’s 150+ years of archives and runs them like electronic teletypes across dozens of mounted screens that look like elongated smart phones.

In the lobby of the New York Times

Another interesting symbolic architectural element of the building: There are two banks of elevators. One for the editorial staffers, the other for people who work in sales and marketing. Get it? The business side should never mesh with the editorial side. Or so that was the thinking way back in 2007.

The courtyard (or “lobby garden”) of the building features sedges, ferns and birch trees, an earthy contrast to the surrounding steel and glass.

 

Birch trees and grass grow within the TImes complex.

One of the most relevant sessions at the conference was called “Manage Your Digital Workflow.” It was presented by Roman Heindorff, founder of Camayak.

Tips I found most relevant here:

  • Brand every piece of content.
  • Improve the access outside contributors have to pitch ideas to your newsroom
  • Only invest in writers you see a future with. You can’t keep shoving resources at people who just kind of stick around the newsroom and don’t grow.
  • Show reporters their metrics; show them their stories relative to their peers
  • Reward people. Incentivize (pizza?)
  • While working on a story is a good time to start promoting the story vis social media to get a buzz going.

And in our down time, we went to The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. The topic of the night: Donald Trump’s racist supporters

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Cheyenne, Ben, Malika, Nancy and Clare in TImes Square. Rachel was touring CBS.

Cheyenne, Ben, Malika, Nancy and Clare in Times Square. Rachel was touring CBS.

One more thing: The Beacon came in Second Place in the Apple Awards. Not bad!

-Nancy Copic, Ass’t Director for Student Media

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The Beacon has won two Gold Circle Awards and a Certificate of Merit from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, which is based at the Graduate School of Journalism of Columbia University in New York City.

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Philip Ellefson Beacon News Editor

Philip Ellefson 

In the category of Editorial Writing, Philip Ellefson won Third Place for “RPP Hindered Vital Inclusion Discussions.”

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Megan Lester and Kelsey Thomas won Third Place in the News Feature category for “Nothing to Rave About.”

Megan Lester

Megan Lester

Kelsey Thomas

Kelsey Thomas

 

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Lydia Laythe won a Certificate of Merit for news writing for “Chiles Incident Sparks Outrage.”

Lydia Laythe

Lydia Laythe

 

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Congrats to all!

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This is the first time I’ve been to New York City, so I’m still a bit dazed by it all. Every time I step outside into the car horns and walls of light, the smells of street food and exhaust, executives in tailored suits and construction crews in knit caps, I just kind of dissolve into it all. It’s all imposing and all strange. You know a place is strange when you can walk a couple of blocks and see twelve-storey LCD women walking toward you to advertise clothes.

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A view of 5th Avenue skyscrapers from Central Park

Last night, Nancy (our adviser) took a few of us who had never been to New York to see some of the landmarks in Midtown – Times Square, Rockefeller Center, those places you see in movies. This evening, a few of the others staffers and I walked to Central Park and down 5th Avenue for some of the tradition and glitz of the city.

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Radio City Music Hall in Rockefeller Center

Since I experience culture (and life in general) through food, I’ve been trying to eat lots of quintessential New York dishes. For dinner, I couldn’t decide between a big greasy slice of New York pizza and a heaping plate of chicken and rice the famous Halal Guys food cart. So I ate both of them.

Of course, the college media conference has also been wonderful. In one session on headline writing, Dan Sweeney from Florida Atlantic University emphasized taking the medium into account while writing headlines. A clickbait-ish, Upworthy-type headline isn’t appropriate for a newspaper, but it might be appropriate as an alternate headline in a tweet or Facebook post. David Simpson, the student media adviser at Georgia Southern University, gave a talk on how to take on tough interviews. He emphasized the importance of coming into interviews with confidence but also with humility.

Probably my favorite session today was from Ron Johnson at Indiana University on quick, easy design improvements. While he had plenty of ideas, I think one that I’ll try to keep in mind for the rest of the year is the importance of white space. I tend not to have much white space in my Opinions pages, opting instead to fill the space with words and big graphics. But Johnson said that even with very content-focused pages like the Opinions section, white space can focus the design by adding breathing room.

Today’s keynote speaker was Scott Pelley of CBS News and 60 Minutes. He emphasized that not only does democracy depend on free press, but also on high-quality journalism.

“When the quality of journalism goes to hell,” he said, “the county will follow.”

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Scott Pelley of NBC News and 60 Minutes gives a speech on journalists’ duty to stay true to traditional media ethics in order to preserve freedom in the U.S.

Pelley also made the claim that the journalism world isn’t really changing as much as everyone says it is. He said that as much as the distribution and style of journalism might have changed over the past decade, the principles of good journalism remain the same – and will remain the same forever.

“Distribution: revolutionary. Content: same old stuff, folks,” Pelley said.

 

–Philip Ellefson, opinions editor

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It was an embarrassment of riches at today’s statewide collegiate awards ceremony of the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association. The Beacon won 27 awards  including First Place for General Excellence.

What the judges said about The Beacon:
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List of awards:

FIRST PLACE awards

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General Excellence– Beacon Staff

Best News Story– “We all want something better.” Philip Ellefson, Laura Frazier, Jackie Jeffers

Best Section -Beacon news section Laura Frazier, Beacon staff

Best Special Section– “What’s in our air?”- Rosemary Peters

Best Series- Ongoing coverage of nondiscrimination policy and Redefine Purple Pride- Kelsey Thomas, Philip Ellefson,Laura Frazier

Best Editorial-“It is time for our nondiscrimination policy to change.” – Sarah Hansell

Best Design– Shellie Adams, Liz Tertadian, Laura Frazier, Rachel McIntosh

Best website– Et Begert

Best Review–  “The Casual Vacancy” – Kate Stringer

Best Spot News Photo– “She said yes!”- Jackie Jeffers

3rd Place Braeking News photo by Jackie Jeffers

1st Place Breaking News photo by Jackie Jeffers

Best Sports Photo– “Round Two!”- Jackie Jeffers

Best Feature Photo– Athletes and their tattoos- Joey Solano

Best Photography- Jackie Jeffers

Best cartoon – “Theology 101” – Ann Truong

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SECOND PLACE awards:

News story– “Access Denied”- Philip Ellefson

Writing-“Students cooperate, but still can’t party”- Kelsey Thomas

Section- “VOTE”- Shellie Adams, Kelsey Thomas, Beacon staff

Graphic– “VOTE”- Shellie Adams

Special Section– “What’s on your bucket list?”- Shellie Adams + Beacon staff

Columnist– “Keep your legislation out of my body, thanks” – Amanda Munro

Photography– Joey Solano

Feature Photo– “Elderly Prom” – Stephanie Matusiefsky

THIRD PLACE awards:

Feature Story: “Molly’s Legacy: Hope for Hait”i- Kate Stringer

Editorial: “Theo 101 change limits diversity and stifles thought”- Will Lyons

Columnist: “Rape is not a joke” – Lydia Laythe

Sports Photo– Men’s soccer- Joey Solano

Cartoon- “Coffee Crawl”- Ann Truong

Beacon staffers Nastacia Voisin, Laura Frazier, Liz Tertadian and Kelsey Thomas car barely hold the 27 ONPA awards The Beacon won

Beacon staffers Nastacia Voisin, Laura Frazier, Liz Tertadian and Kelsey Thomas car barely hold the 27 ONPA awards The Beacon won

WOW!

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A small school like UP has a hard time getting national exposure. We don’t often play big schools that everyone knows so people outside the northwest don’t really know anything about UP. I think that we need to show people that we are an important school and have great stories to tell about our athletes.

ESPNU has a program called Campus Connection where students can make videos and submit them to be put on their website and maybe their TV channel. Image

There are so many interesting athletes at our school do more than play a sport and walk around in sweatpants. They have great stories about how they got to UP, what their families are like, how they started and kept playing the sport and often have famous relatives that played the same sport. We can offer a new way of getting to know the sports at our school by taking videos and posting them not only to our website but to ESPNU as well.

This can open up a new door for students at UP who are interested in presenting the news but might not want to be writers. It could bring another group of students interested in sports and the paper. These videos are very casual and fun so it’s not a reason to be nervous or something that would take up a whole lot of time. This could be a great opportunity for many different groups to be involved and a great way to get exposure for UP.

-K Dunn

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Just finished our first long day at CMA’s college media convention! I’ve never met so many other college journalists who have had such similar experiences with their college newspapers. It’s so interesting to hear stories from other small private Catholic schools, as well as hear what it’s like to run and work for a newspaper at a big public school or even a community college. It’s even cooler to hear stories and advice from media professionals doing all different types of journalism. One speaker, Brian Storm, started his own visual storytelling business called MediaStorm that uses photos, video, music and skillful editing to tell individuals’ stories as a way to bring to light a larger social issue. Listening to his presentation helped me realize that the skills we learn at The Beacon will teach us more than how to be good student journalists, but will help give us the skills to explore a career in many different types of media outlets.

There were also several workshops on how to handle administrators and university staff that don’t want to talk to student reporters. In the one I went to, the speaker talked about making a civic map – a literal map you can draw up that lists who has jurisdiction over what at the school. The speaker talked about how important it is for reporters to know who to talk to for stories – just to have a knowledge of their school and what the role of all its administrators and staff are. This can help reporters get to the bottom of things, because they know all the places to look and people to talk to without relying on sources to point them in the right direction.

One speaker also talked about the importance of no prior review – not allowing university representatives to review the newspaper in any way before it’s published. And that includes email interviews in most instances, or showing a source the article before its published. It was good to hear that other schools have these struggles too, including the newspaper of the school where the speaker teaches. She also had a lot of ideas for training staff. She suggested having a training before spring semester as well because of the high turnover rate in student newspapers. She talked about training students by putting them in scenarios and having them learn how to react to the sorts of situations they might face working for their newspaper.

Mostly, it was really exciting to hear other people whose journalistic stories and struggles I could relate to. There’s so much to learn from all of these media professionals and fellow student journalists, and it  helped me realize that working at The Beacon will give me skills I could use in all sorts of different career.

This was a long and tiring day so this blog is really short, but there’ll be more tomorrow! Goodnight New York!!

-Sarah Hansell

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Today was the first day of the College Media Association we Beaconites are attending here in New York City, and here I am, sitting in the lobby of the Sheraton Times Square Hotel, ready to collapse after a very long day of journalism craziness! Our very early day started at about 6 this morning, when some of us got up early to get on line to reserve spots for media tours on Monday and Tuesday. Kate and I are going to Hearst Tower (or, Hearst Castle, as I deliriously told the sign-up lady this morning), where many magazines, like Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Esquire, Good Housekeeping, and Marie Claire, are published.  So that will be fun! I am really excited to get a closer look at the magazine industry.

The first session I attended this morning was called “Tough Interview? You Can Do it!” presented by David Simpson, a college media adviser who has written for the Associated Press and many other publications. He was a really engaging presenter, considering it was 9 a.m. (more like 8 a.m. with the time change, which felt more like 5 a.m. for us West Coast girls!). He had a lot of really good tips for dealing with difficult administrators or PR people who don’t want to talk, or aren’t very forthcoming when they do talk to you. He emphasized the importance of being professional, which was a no-brainer, but I took away from him some really interesting points. One way to get the facts straight of any story is to have the source tell it in chronological order so you can catch any errors of logic or inconsistencies. He also said that while it’s important to be prepared, sometimes for whatever reason, you just can’t always be 100 percent put together, and so it’s better to admit this to the source so you won’t have to scam your way through an interview. Probably the biggest thing I took away from him was the importance of listening to your source, and not just thinking of your next question, because you may miss something important if you do. And if you are still really nervous for an interview, a little self-affirmation can go a long way.

I next went to “Just Do It: International Freelancing Post-Graduation,” which was given by a recent college graduate, Julia Waterhous, who decided to follow her dream of freelance journalism in India, and the steps she took to get there. The biggest thing I took from this presentation was the importance of courage and determination in following whatever dream you may have. As someone who loves to travel and learn about different cultures, I thought it was a really fascinating presentation.

The keynote speaker today was Willie Geist, who’s basically done every job there is in journalism, from writing to editing to producing to hosting all these different morning shows, including the 9 a.m. hour of The Today Show. He was such a funny and engaging speaker! He had some really great insights about breaking into the business. He said there is no set way to get involved in journalism. You just have to go for it and see where it takes you and where you may possibly end up. Also, a journalist must often be flexible and versatile to be successful. As he so eloquently put it, “15 minutes after talking about the sequester, I’m across the street making meatloaf with Martha Stewart.”

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Willie Geist!

After some lunch, I attended a presentation called “Tight, Bright Writing and Editing,” by Peggy Elliott. It was mostly about how you can make your writing more concise and neat, which I personally really want to improve on. I learned about getting rid of redundancies, like “actual truth” and “future plans,” and the difference between “due to” (implies debt) and “because of” (cause and effect) in an article. I know I use “due to” a lot in my articles, so I was really happy I learned how different these two phrases actually are! Little things like these are what make the difference between good writers and great writers!

“Becoming a Pitch-Perfect Writer” was my next session, and this one was a bit different from others I had attended so far. It was about getting your foot in the door if you want to freelance for magazines or even newspapers. The key, according to the presenter, Rick Marshall (who was really funny and laid-back) is to know how to pitch your ideas to potential editors. He talked about strategies such as understanding the tone and audience of the publication you want to freelance for, keeping your pitch concise, being as timely as possible in regard to current events, and not overreaching with your credentials. Good things to know for any career you may choose to go into!

The final session I attended was a showcase called “Insider Tips from a Metro Editor on Snagging Internships and a Job,” and it was a really good session at first, with lots of helpful tips like getting in contact with potential editors for “informational interviews” cultivating as many relationships in the workplace as you can, and encouraging us to even seek out non-editors, like parents or friends, to help with article construction. However, when he opened it up for questions, it gradually turned into one big brag-fest where it seemed like everyone who asked questions tried to outdo each other in how many internships and how much real journalism experience they had. Oh well. Not every session can be a winner, I guess.

Right now, it doesn’t seem like my brain could possibly contain any more new information, but there’s still a day and a half to go! I am so excited to learn more as these days go on. Now, to a bit of R&R before tomorrow’s round 2!

~Kathryn

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