The Gest of Ts in NYC

By Courtney Campbell

It’s hard to believe that the #CMANYC16 was a week ago, especially because it’s spring break now. New York was filled with excitement and adventures and most importantly journalism. 

NYC was great and Hannah was the perfect partner in crime to take it on with. We walked a lot, ate some amazing bagels, had wonderful conversations with fellow student journalists and mingled with Elon alumni and people in the industry. Personally, I got a ton of contacts😉.

All of the sessions I attended were super valuable and I learned a TON. I got some great story ideas, I’m thinking more about going outside my comfort zone and I really want to create a blog for The Edge. The conference was such a valuable experience and I’m so lucky to have to opportunity to go. 

It was truly a #GTinNYC. 

In which we return to NC

by Hannah Silvers

ELON, NC — It’s only a few days after our return from NYC, and we’ve already gotten to share some of the amazing ideas we picked up at the CMA convention with our friends on staff.

I’ve already talked to Kim about using the feedback from our online critique to plan an Instagram schedule for behind-the-scenes content. We’ve come up with a tentative schedule together that we’re going to share with her social media team and Tommy to hopefully pilot after break.

Stephanie and I have talked a lot about the back page. I shared all the great ideas we got from our critique, and it seems like we have a few different ideas to try after the special edition.

We also distributed the magazines and papers we picked up from the conference, and everyone has been taking inspiration from them. The buttons are a hit, too!

It was an amazing adventure — a true #GTinNYC — and a wealth of new ideas for social media, stories and design. Hope we get to go again someday!

In which we talked about SN Works, branding

by Hannah Silvers and Courtney Campbell

NEW YORK CITY — We just got back from our website critique, and though we’re really tired, we’re going to post some highlights for you. Dedication.

(Luckily, our adviser also uses SN Works for his newspaper’s website, so he knew our struggles and didn’t focus too much on the technical issues we have.)

Website-centered comments:

  • He said he loves it when he sees awesome design for headlines in print — e.g., in the Feb. 24 edition with the “Going local” story and the “Elon plague” story — make it online. That’s a super easy thing to do because we can just save the graphic as a photo and upload it to Gryphon as the featured image. We think we should do it!
  • Apparently, SN Works can move the “Related Content” bar from the bottom to the middle of a story. That helps with bounce rate because people see other stories as they read that they might want to click on.
  • We talked for a while about the multimedia tab and how best to categorize and emphasize multimedia content when we merge with ELN. More conversations about that to come, for sure.

Other online comments:

  • He showed us some social media-exclusive content from his newspaper, and a lot of it was really cool. They use Facebook for more than just posting links to articles, which we could totally do. There are some specifics that we don’t have room for here that we’ll be sharing in person.
  • We talked a lot about branding and how we can brand ourselves as an organization with a personality, not just a newspaper. Behind the scenes videos, fun bits with sections, etc. One idea we really liked: a really short “this is what you can look forward to in this week’s paper” video, posted just on social media on Tuesdays but filmed during production. Each section editor teases one story from their section in less than 10 seconds, and it all goes into one short video that can be shared on Facebook. Clever and awesome. We wanna do this.
  • To accompany a special issue about Star Wars, his newspaper sent a guy dressed as a 7-foot-tall Chewbacca around campus. They asked readers to Tweet selfies at them with the hashtag #WherestheWookie, then picked a random winner and gave them a prize. Apparently, they got mad engagement. We can totally do social media contests tied to our content.

That’s all from us here. There was so much more we talked about, especially about branding and social media, so ask either of us if you want more details on any of this.

Now off to dinner and a #GTinNYC!

Should The Edge get a blog?

By Courtney Campbell

Yes.

As a monthly publication that consistently produces engaging content, I am proud to say I am apart of The Edge — others want to be a part of it too, just not as much. With only four issues a semester, it’s hard to delegate additional content when there’s a few stories taken up by staff.

This is where a blog could come in.

In “Blogs to the Rescue” the students at SCAD explained how they saved the involvement of students in the paper by creating The Manor, a fashion blog. Many students were interested in writing, but they weren’t a huge fan of traditional journalism and would rather cover fashion — a huge community at SCAD. Instead The Manor pulls the fashion-minded in and also gives them a different creative outlet that is still journalism.

I was a bit skeptical at first — it seemed like they were giving up on reporting and new in general. But after asking a few website I feel like blogging is a skill that our staff could benefit from. It could give each student a voice while adding for more digital content for The Edge.

I’m not saying The Edge shouldn’t report like traditional journalists, but it could give us an opportunity to find a niche to cover once a week and pull in more contributors, involving more of Elon’s campus.

In which the keynote speaker inspired the room

by Hannah Silvers

NEW YORK CITY — Today’s keynote was given by Byron Pitts, (co-anchor, Nightline; chief national correspondent, ABC News; former contributor, 60 Minutes) who couldn’t read until he was 12 years old.

Hooked? So was everyone else.

He was a fantastic speaker who focused a good portion of his presentation on covering tragedy. Pitts encouraged us all to recognize our privileged situation, to take note of people who are suffering and to always ensure that we’re serving those around us. He emphasized sensitivity to the tragedy of others, especially when we’re tempted to make it all about us when our byline is involved.

I’ve noticed this before in college media, even in The Pendulum. We’re often tempted to write or share a story because we wrote it. We’re proud of our hard work, and we want it to be seen. But I think we need to keep the perspective Pitts talked about.

Our writing isn’t for us. It’s for the community. For covering tragedies, we have to remember that it’s our job to be respectful and sensitive to the people who were affected. For example, an story about victims of sexual violence might be technically more compelling with photos of bruised victims — but it’s not about getting a good story, it’s about protecting and respecting the emotions of the victims who may not want to be identified.

That’s not to say difficult stories shouldn’t be told, though. In fact, Pitts encouraged the audience to dive into the stories that need to be told, no matter what, if you have the privilege to do so. Privilege = responsibility.

Pitts also touched on issues of racial unrest in news coverage. An audience member asked why more cities like Ferguson, Missouri, experience similar situations but don’t make it to the news. Pitts brought it back to diversity in newsrooms. He said it’s impossible to cover diverse stories with any nuance without diverse staff members.

It was an inspiring presentation, especially since Pitts is an exceptional storyteller. It will be nice to have his words in mind when I inevitably coach a reporter through a tough situation.

Sad to be wrapping up the second day of #GTinNYC. It’s been great so far!

Covering the ‘Elon Plague’

By Courtney Campbell

Want to win an award? 1/3 of the 2015 Pulitzer Prizes went to health reported stories. Really gets you thinking twice about covering Zika.

As a (generally) health minded individual, I decided to check out a session called “Sex, Drugs and Anxiety: Reporting on Health on Campus” with Andrew Seaman because health is something thats underreported at Elon even with our wellness edition. Though I didn’t learn much on how to specifically go about covering “sex, drugs and anxiety,” I did learn how many potential stories there are about health on Elon’s campus.

Health isn’t just about eating kale. It intersects with different aspects like business, science and individuals — all that can be looked at with an in-depth eye. There are a few areas in particular that would make for great coverage of Elon’s state of health, including:

  • Health Researches – see what students and professors are doing in the science field to improve health
  • The Wellness Center – stop by every so often to see what the latest “plague” is or what’s out of the ordinary
  • Elon’s PR Letter – sometimes they say things important or can be investigated
  • PubMed – look up journals and see what applies to students
  • National News – bringing stuff like the Zika Virus to a local level

Health reporting can often be tricky, so it’s important to keep well versed in the technical language before reporting. But do overload your story with the jargon and don’t be afraid to ask “dumb questions” to fully understand the science.

Overall, I really, really liked this presentation and can now (probably) tell you what an odds ratio is and why it’s important.

In which girl power is nice, but not enough

by Hannah Silvers

NEW YORK CITY — Anyone who’s ever met me could have told you that I’d never miss an opportunity to attend a session titled, “Like a Boss (Lady).” Two women (one working in animation at Nick Jr. and the other on the breaking news team at Time) led the session about what it means to lead as a woman in a male-dominated field.

It was all very supportive and lovely, and there was a lot of mutual support and respect among everyone in the room. But I wished we’d had time for a deeper discussion.

The presenters talked a lot about how to stand your ground as a woman in the field. They told us how they learned to prove themselves part of the team, e.g., by purposefully sitting down with their male co-workers at lunch, or by ignoring presidential candidates’ questions of, “How old are you?” and soldiering forth with well-researched questions that “prove” to your interviewees that you know what you’re doing.

But we didn’t talk about what to do about the fact that we have to do these things.

We have to “prove ourselves” in the current structure. It’s the only way to get into editorial positions. But what about when we get there? We talked a little about encouraging and mentoring the other women who work with us, but that’s not really going to help the next generation of women who will have to fight the same fight we fought.

Once we reach leadership positions, I think, we have to use our influence to make things better for the people who some after us. We have to actively rewrite the conversation and be confrontational where younger people can’t be, either for fear of losing their jobs or the respect of their co-workers. And I wish the presenters had tasked the 50 or so women journalists in the room with that responsibility.