The cool thing about being involved in journalism is that you don’t just write. Actually, you can’t just write. You have to have a wide knowledge base in order to successfully write. And, as my fellow journalists out there will understand, your knowledge base can’t just be politics, history or sports. You have to know law, which is why I was interested in Frank LoMonte’s session on FERPA, or the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

There was a lot of information that was thrown out there at a fairly rapid pace, which made it hard to digest all of it. But below is one of the key pieces of information I received regarding FERPA, which explains what FERPA most definitely does not cover.

-Law enforcement records

-Final outcomes where a college disciplines someone for a violent crime.

There is so much more to learn about the legality behind obtaining documents, but this was a good base and start.


Sliced and diced in 20 minutes

Going into my third session, Chicken Salad with Michael Koretsky, I didn’t know what to expect. Everyone I had talked to had a different opinion, some people who had been to his sessions before told me that Koretzky was amazing, and this was something that I must go to. Others were of the opinion that his sessions were overrated. I decided to see for myself, and it didn’t take long for me to fall into the first category of people.

As a designer, I enjoyed this session immensely. Koretsky’s over the top energy was perfect for revving up the crowd. He even tossed out one-dollar coins for people who answered his questions, a happily welcomed bonus for speaking up.

I got a lot of great takeaways from this session. One thing that Koretsky said that stuck with me was something along the lines of “The minute you say ‘we don’t do things like that,’ we become everything we hated your parents.” There have been many times that I’ve wanted to try something, but the Pendulum has a certain ways of doing things, and even when we take risks, they are calculated risks. They are risks similar to ones we’ve taken in the past.

I want to go back to and do something wild this week. I want to do something we’ve never done before. I feel inspired.

On my continued quest for summer employment

Oh the cover letter – little makes me cringe more. Even the resume I can handle. I’ve spent way more time than I’d care to admit over the past couple of weeks retooling, from the ground up, my resume to resemble something that I can hand to a hiring manager with pride.

I now feel like I have an even better handle on the art of employment, thanks to my favorite session on the day, led by Karen Testa, longtime Associated Press employee, now hiring manager. Testa. She touched on a lot in a short time.

And she made me realize I’ve been beginning my cover letters all wrong, all the time.

Like most internship-seekers, my first line has read something like, “My name is Michael Bodley, and I’m writing to apply for the position of X at Publication Y for the coming summer.”

As Testa put it best: yawn. The best cover letters she’s seen – and she’s seen thousands – treat the exercise like an act of journalism, filled with showing, not telling. It’s all about the beginning, telling a story of a challenge you’ve faced or a situation in which you’ve excelled.

I need to writing a new cover letter. But it’s not all bad news. After the presentation, Testa pored over my resume. Her verdict?

“I wouldn’t throw yours away. Congratulations.”

Michael Bodley

Learning from People Magazine

By Caroline Fernandez

Even though I am interested in global issues and news, as well as compelling features stories, I’ll admit that every once in a while I’ll flip through a trash magazine and you know what? It’s great. It’s easy and mindless to flip through a magazine while sitting in an airport or trying to pass the time; People, in my opinion, is the best of the best. So when I saw a session that focused on how you could learn from People magazine and take away how they use diversity, visuals and color to create a better publication, I was intrigued.

While the information given was interesting, most of what I heard was anything but earth shattering.

The major idea I took away from the session was the retention and recruitment of staff members. Towards the end of the session the presenter, Marquita Smith from John Brown University, discussed the recruitment and retention of staff members. She made some great suggestions, such as using space on your website to promote the staff in quick and fun ways where staff members, especially seniors, discuss what they have gained from being on staff. I can see us doing fun, yet meaningful speed round print or video interviews with staff members and then posting them on either social media or a more permanent place like the website. I feel that a good majority of Elon students are familiar with The Pendulum but aren’t familiar with how they can be involved. Spotlights on students from all majors – from business to English – who are involved with The Pendulum will help promote the idea that The Pendulum needs people from all backgrounds to be successful.

While I wish I would have been able to learn more from the session, I am now going to put more thought and seek advice from other Pendy’s about the sessions I am considering for tomorrow.


The problem with College Media critiques

As is ACP/CMA convention policy, the adviser who led our critique, Susan Smith from South Dakota University, hadn’t seen a copy of The Pendulum before we were sitting across from her. That’s a problem.

The thinking goes that a fresh set of eyes will notice what hasn’t been noticed before – provide a new perspective. With two critiques under my belt, I’ve come to a different conclusion: it doesn’t work.

Any reviewer needs to spend time with his/her subject, to get to know the medium on a level that’s more than superficial. Due to no fault of Susan, the 45 minutes we spent together were filled largely with questions about Elon and our publication.

That’s not productive. By the time our reviewer got a sense of what she was holding, all that was possible were suggestions (mostly good) regarding design and printing quality.

If advisers were encouraged – if not required – to spend some time with their subject ahead of time, we just might leave with some idea of how to make our paper better.

Michael Bodley

So Many Pinnacle Puns, So Much Time to Use Them

By Colin Donohue

Butzer PinnacleProbably three or four “clever” (quotes intentional) pinnacle-centered slugs for this post swam through my head. But I rose above and chose to sheath my rapier punmanship. You’re all welcome.

Indeed, all this Pinnacle talk (writing?) is for a reason: Former Pendulum A&E editor and current High Point Enterprise reporter Stephanie Butzer won a second-place Pinnacle Award in the College Media Association’s Best Multimedia Feature Story competition for her piece “Predator control deepens struggles for coexistence between wild canines, humans.”

Now, you’re probably asking, “Why didn’t Stephanie finish first?” To that I would respond, “Shut up! You’re being negative and rude.” Then, I would also say, “Stephanie did do first-place work.”

Not because I know Stephanie and think highly of her and her reporting. But because among the top three finishers, Stephanie’s story was the meatiest and the most deeply reported. But wait. That’s not to say the story that won isn’t good.

Actually, it’s damn good and quite impressive. In fact, the work the students at the Mustang News are doing with online story presentations is fantastic. They’re taking risks. They’re experimenting. They’re being creative. It’s fun to watch.

Clearly, the Best Multimedia Feature Story competition included a lot of tremendous student work. When I sit in awards presentations, I always marvel at what college students are producing. It’s not that they’re just using the toys available to them to tell stories online. They’re using those tools in targeted, meaningful and impactful ways. They’re being creative and analytical. They get it.

Like Stephanie, who thought clearly and purposefully about how she was going to build her final “predator control” story. She considered the pieces of information she could break out for readers. She contemplated the multimedia elements best suited to accompany her reporting. She built an online package rich with information, deep reporting and narrative storytelling techniques.

Each and every story that was honored with an individual online Pinnacle award exhibited clarity of purpose and creativity. AND AS IMPORTANTLY: They demonstrated GREAT reporting and GREAT writing. Remember, a story’s shine isn’t as important as its heft. So CONGRATULATIONS, STEPHANIE! What a fantastic honor. One you deserve.

(Wondering why I wrote so much about this award in such choppy grafs? Well, I knew I wasn’t going to use a Pinnacle pun. But who says I couldn’t use an acrostic?)

Day 1 closes. Day 2 will be better.

By Colin Donohue

Day 2 will be better. Because it has to be.

I don’t typically post about sessions on this blog. I leave that to the students, whose impressions of the conference are more important than mine. But I felt compelled to check in. Briefly. (Preface: I’m sensitive to the challenge of offering a session at conferences, so I’m not naming names of presenters or sessions. I’m only providing general thoughts. The people who volunteer to share their expertise and experiences are doing yeoman’s work, and they should all be recognized for giving so generously of their time and talent.)

The first session I planned to attend was canceled. An inauspicious start. And disappointing because the subject matter intrigued me. I figured the discussion would’ve been useful to the future of student news media at Elon. Alas, it wasn’t to be.

I headed to an awards presentation later, which was disjointed and unprepared. I don’t blame the presenter, who was thrust into the session after offering to help. Still … SUCCESS! An award was won. More on that in a separate post.

My final session was misleadingly titled and didn’t truly cover the subject matter it proposed to. I did come away with a reminder about a dynamic multimedia tool I had forgotten about–one I’ll probably use in class in the spring. So that was a useful takeaway.

All in all, not the best day I’ve had at one of these conferences. Not the worst, either, considering a couple of years ago I shuffled around the convention hotel with food poisoning. But outside the hotel here in Philly, I did see a couple of things. And that was pretty darn exciting.


Anyway, Day 2 will be better, and I’m excited for it.