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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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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 Selter 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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‘Just received word that The Beacon received a Certificate of Merit at the Columbia Scholastic Press’ 2011 Gold Circle Awards at Columbia University in New York City.

Specifically, honors  went to Hannah Gray (News Editor), Elizabeth Tertadian (Page Designer) and Gaona Yang (Reporter) in the category of “Single subject news or feature package, single page.”

Below is the story/page design (“Making Sense of  Your Dollars”) that was recognized for its excellence:

The story,  through words, numbers and graphic design, examined how UP’s student government (ASUP) allocates the student activity fees that all students pay every semester. Click here for the full coverage.

About the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, according to its website:

The Association is owned by Columbia University and operated as a program affiliated with its Graduate School of Journalism.

The Columbia Scholastic Press Association serves student journalists as follows:

  • to make clear expression the standard for success;
  • to maintain the student media for students, by students and containing news of students;
  • to conduct contests and offer awards to make student media better than they were; and
  • to recognize that journalism can be a means towards broader understanding of society and people.

Congratulations to  Elizabeth, Gaona and Hannah!

-Nancy Copic

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As usual, Stephen Colbert nails it where it needs to be nailed. Watch this!

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The Beacon is a finalist for several awards from the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association. Winners will be announced May 6th. Keep your fingers crossed!

Best News Section– Hannah Gray, Rosemary Peters, Enid Spitz, Laura Frazier  (Beacon News Section: The Road to River Campus & Your Safety on and off campus)

Best Features Section– Roya Ghorbani-Elizeh, Laura Frazier, Rosemary Peters, Elizabeth Tertadian (Living/Feature section)  From hall director on The Bluff to cop on the street and likealittle:Online flirting captures UP)

Best Special Section– Rosemary Peters, Andy Matarrese, Staff  (75th Anniversary of The Beacon)

Best News Story– Philippe Boutros, Hannah Gray  (Campus-wide alert leads to arrest)

Best Series– Andy Matarrese, Laura Frazier  (Foundation president withdraws from gala  / GSP works with UP administration)

Best Sports Story– Bruce Garlinghouse  (BOOM! Pilots fly high over No. 24 St. Mary’s)

Best Review -Enid Spitz  (Eat at Le Bistro Montage)

Best Photography– Kevin Kadooka  (BOOM! Pilots fly high over No. 24 St. Mary’s; Homecoming 2010;The inside scoop on the bell tower)

Best Graphic -Rosemary Peters

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First day at the convention and I have already learned so much! Today consisted of five workshops and the keynote speaker today here in Phoenix. Each session gave me a different perspective on journalism and what it means to be a journalist in today’s society.

One of my workshops was the Introduction to covering tragedy and trauma which was put on by the Dart Center. The Dart Center, which is out of Washington state, focuses on helping journalists work with and interview victims of traumatic events. The session reminded me of a psychology course because we learned of the different responses that a victim will have emotionally and physically to an event. A journalist must be able to understand these signs of trauma and be able to adapt to them.

The speakers also touched on the fact that interviewing a victim might help them work though their experience in a positive way. This reminded me of experience of interviewing Rachel for the Haiti article. After the interview, I received an email from Rachel in which she told me that it was "more than just an interview" and that it was very cathartic for her. This was one of the best moments I have had yet on The Beacon.

The rest of the day was also very interesting. The rest of my sessions ranged from an ethics debate with a prof from ASU to an open records policies course to a non-verbal communication lesson. My notebook is filled with notes and random stories told by the speakers which will hopefully help me in the future.

My favorite session of the day was a panel on reporting on a private college. It was interesting to get a different perspective from other small universities from around the country and the struggles that have had within their communities and their administrations. I attended this session with Rosemary, Hannah and Nancy and we all had a very good discussion afterwards about The Beacon and the limitations we could face by being a publication from a private university. I have really enjoyed being able to attend these sessions and then applying them to by own experience working on The Beacon.

Phoenix has been wonderful so far and so have my lovely roommates! (SHOUT OUT TO HANNAH AND ROSEMARY).
Here’s to another day tomorrow at the journalism convention!

peace, love & newspapers,
Roya

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Tomorrow, three editors and two reporters from the University of Portland’s student-run newspaper, The Beacon, head to Phoenix for the Associated Collegiate Press National Journalism Convention. Friday through Sunday, they will attend journalism workshops covering a variety of topics including reporting, editing, covering tragedy and sensitive issues, ethics, newspaper design, new media, college issues, managing student employees and more.

It should be especially fun and enriching to mingle and share stories with hundreds of other collegiate journalists from across the country.

The attendees- Andy, Rosemary, Aaron, Hannah and Roya will chronicle their experiences and lessons on this blog daily. ‘Should be an adventure! – Nancy Copic, Ass’t Director for Student Media, University of Portland

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