Posts Tagged ‘student media’

As the sun rose over the Mississippi River, more than 2000 collegiate journalists and their advisers prepared for Day One of the Associated Collegiate Press convention in New Orleans.

Kelsey, Philip and I had to choose from dozens of sessions. So many looked so interesting, so relevant to media in general and student media in particular. Among the highlights for me this day: sessions on infographics, critiquing and sexual assault on campus.


At least some millennials have an affinity for newspapers. Most of them are at this convention, apparently.

At least some millennials have an affinity for newspapers. Most of them are at this convention, apparently.

Online infographics

Alex V Cook, adviser of The Daily Reveille at Louisiana State University led this session on using Tableau Public and Google Fusion Tables to make digital infographics. He spent a few minutes emphasizing what we already know: People don’t read newspapers so much anymore, especially younger people. He referenced a term coined by Google: Generation C , so called because they create, curate and collaborate on content.  And by doing so, they create community.

He spoke about the importance of telling stories in new ways, specifically infographics. What skill do journalists today need to know?  Excel.  They need to learn how to find a large amount of data, crunch the numbers and find the story.

As an example, he showed some infographics from a story about the salary of Les Miles, LSU’s football coach. They made the charts from the free software, Tableau. He also recommended Google Fusion Tables, which The Beacon already is using for its online Public Safety reports.


Critiquing for Real

This session offered some fresh ways to approach what is for The Beacon and me a weekly ritual. Dan Close from Wichita State University led this. Many of his suggestion were simply ways to “frame” or “brand” the critique.


His ideas included:

1)  A Top Ten List (the best and perhaps the worst?)

2) The good, the bad and the really ugly

3) Have sources critique your coverage. Or invite alums or students from an editing class.

4) Have critique be content-specific each week. For example, focus on ledes one week, photos the next, news judgment the following week.

Underlying all of these techniques is the notion that a critique is an important teaching tool. They should be supportive and explanatory

Speaking of editing, ACP had a copy editing/geography problem. Notice anything wrong with Kelsey’s name tag? It was a reoccurring theme throughout the conference.

Portland, Pennsylvania? Hello, copyeditor?

Portland, Pennsylvania? Hello, copyeditor?
Critique workshop

Campus Rape Coverage Success Stories

Editors of three college newspapers that have aggressively covered sexual assault on their campus spoke about the resistance and challenges they faced and the gratification of perseverance. In all cases, they said their administrations seemed more concerned about university image than sexual assault. The editors also criticized the practice of treating sexual assault as a disciplinary matter rather than the crime that it is.

“These people (university disciplinary boards) aren’t trained to handle these things,” Samantha Vicente , an editor from the student newspaper at Oklahoma State University, said.

But Nicole Comparato of The Daily Tarheel at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said it was important for student journalists to persevere in covering this issue, despite resistance from university administration.

“You really can make a huge difference in raising awareness, she said.

Nicole Comperato (UNC, Chapel Hill), Samantha Vicent (Oklahoma St. University), Katie Taggert (Otterbein)

Nicole Comperato (UNC, Chapel Hill), Samantha Vicent (Oklahoma St. University), Katie Taggert (Otterbein)


-Nancy Copic, Ass’t Director of Student Media and Adviser to The Beacon

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Caitlin Yilek, the 2011-2012 Beacon opinions editor, has won First Place  (in the nation!) for Editorial Writing in the Society of Professional Journalists’ Mark of Excellence Awards for editorials she wrote for The Beacon.

Two current Beacon staffers, Kate Stringer and Jackie Jeffers, are national finalists for Feature Writing and Sports Photography, respectively. The Beacon journalists competed in the “Small School” category, meaning colleges/universities with 5000 or fewer students.

Caitlin’s reaction when she heard the news? “I AM GOING TO FAINT. Oh. My. God.” (via Twitter. Follow her at @hausofcait.)

Caitlin Yilek First Place for Editorial Writing

Caitlin Yilek
First Place for Editorial Writing

Here are the three editorials that won Caitlin this national award:

Where are all the women?

University disregards student media

What has ASUP done for you?

Caitlin, who graduated from UP last May, is a copy editor at the St. Cloud Times in her home state of Minnesota. She will receive the award at the SPJ Excellence in Journalism convention in Anaheim, Calif. in August.

Kate Stringer is a national Mark of Excellence finalist for Feature Writing. The story that won her this honor was the first story she wrote for The Beacon. Molly’s Legacy: Hope for Haiti

Kate Stringer Nat'l finalist for Feature Writing

Kate Stringer
Nat’l finalist for Feature Writing


Kate Stringer A bit excited to see The New York Times during National College Media Convention in March

Kate Stringer
A bit excited to see The New York Times during National College Media Convention in March

Next year, Kate will be Living/Faith & Fellowship editor at The Beacon.

Finally, Photo Editor Jackie Jeffers is a national Mark of Excellence finalist for Sports Photography. Jackie, who graduates from UP this weekend, recently accepted a position at Marchex, a mobile marketing/analytics company in Seattle.

Jackie Jeffers National Finalist for Sports Photography

Jackie Jeffers
National Finalist for Sports Photography


Here is Jackie’s award-winning photo, taken at Merlo Field last fall.

award-winning photo by Jackie Jeffers

award-winning photo by Jackie Jeffers

Well done, Caitlin, Kate and Jackie!

-Nancy Copic

Ass’t Director of Student Media & adviser to The Beacon

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A “moving” story…

This week’s editorial is getting lots of buzz on social media.

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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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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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