About fifteen minutes into a session about working with faculty and administration at private schools, I noticed that all fifteen blazer-clad students around me were leaning forward in their seats, nodding and compulsively scribbling notes.
I think I found my people.
Being surrounded by hundreds of college journalists with similar interests and passions, not to mention facing similar problems daily in their newsrooms, and attending lectures by people who have “made it,” all in the amazing setting of New York City has been an indescribable experience. The End.
Just kidding – I will do my best to describe it but please know it is better than I convey. Here are a few of my top lessons from day 1:
The media is still a great place to be:
Keynote speaker William Geist talked about how journalism is such a dynamic industry that, despite what we are told, has many opportunities for us if we work hard enough. Here are a few of my favorite quotes:
Yes you are hearing that newspapers are dead, but there are so many exciting opportunities. Get in the door. Keep your head down. Work heard. Show a work ethic and a willingness to do what it takes.
Anybody you talk to who has made it in media has some version of the story where they felt stuck and under appreciated.
If you stop being hungry and curious and you just want to hang out with all the cool people and get invited to cocktail parties, then maybe it’s time to start thinking about doing something else.
I love design / design is a writers best friend / if you make it hard for a reader to read your paper, they probably wont:
I couldn’t decide between the three titles so I didn’t. I promise no stories in The Beacon next year will have three titles. But all three are true – GO DESIGN. As primarily a writer, I was excited to immerse myself in design during the first day of the conference. The following notes are a compilation of ideas from the session “Chicken Noodle Soup 1” and a private Beacon critique Joey and I attended with the very experienced Gary Metzker.
- White space is your friend. It makes your paper look more professional and easier to read.
- Keep the headline and the deck together in news articles. In living, it is okay to split them up. Put fillers and ads towards the bottom and right. Avoid using more than one pull quote per story or page unless it is a very long story.
- Photography is not just about getting the right shot. Where and how you place the photo is very important. The best photo and story always go on the front page. Always. The front page picture should also feature students. Apparently students won’t be fighting over the newspaper stands when old white guys shaking hands or sitting in a cubicle are on the front. Who knew? If the front page photo is good enough, it alone can carry the page. Always put the caption and byline below the photo, not in it. Avoid using multiple photos of the same size on the same page or putting photos by ads.
When all else fails (even technology), doodle the pope.
- Thanks, Sean Kelly (twitter.com/seankellystudio).
- Private schools aren’t quite as private as they would like you to believe.
Private schools like UP are required to post a variety of forms online.
- Clery Act: includes a crime log and statistical report for the last three years of crime.
- IRS 9-90: searchable data about financial details about the school
- Ed.gov: by searching “Equity in Athletics” and reading the form UP filled out as required by the NCAA, we discovered that coaches of women sports teams make significantly less than coaches of male sports teams at UP. There’s a story idea right there!
- We don’t suck!
- Although this is pretty obvious (cough *Columbia Awards* cough), this conference definitely confirmed that we are doing a lot of things right. Improving writing and design is a continual process, but I am lucky to be joining Ed Board next year on such a thriving, successful paper.
- And that is only day one.
- Kelsey Thomas