An NYC first timer

When I wasn’t attending seminars at this year’s College Media Association’s spring national college media convention in New York City, I was exploring the city, which was completely new to me.

March 9, 2013

During my first night there, strolling around Times Square, I saw ABC Family “Bunheads” actress Julia Goldani Telles.  Unfortunately, I must admit I regret not asking to get a photo with her!

March 10, 2013

The next night, with Gatepost Associate Editor Kerrin Murray and my Co-News Editor Kathleen McDonough, I ate supper at Guy Fieri’s Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar where I had the spicy “Volcano Chicken.”  After that, we got dessert at NYC’s Cake Boss bakery.  I got a mini cheese cake with a giant chocolate covered strawberry on top, that I can only describe as divine.

While walking around, deciding what to do that night, we found ourselves at a cross walk with the Duggars from TLC’s “19 Kids and Counting.”  We found out later that they were on the “Today Show” the next day.

View from ESB

A view of New York City from the Empire State Building.

We concluded the night by getting a view of NYC from the Empire State Building.  As cheesy as it may sound, it truly was breathtaking.  I’m so glad we went there.

March 11, 2013

Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central turns 100 this year.

On our last night there, Kerrin and I walked to Grand Central Terminal, where we walked around inside and took plenty of photos.

On our way back to our hotel, we walked by the New York Public Library, where we also got some great pictures.


The New York Public Library – beautiful even at night.

I loved the time I had in NYC.  I hope I’ll be back some day!

The photos featured in this post were taken by me.


‘Thinking like an editor’ at #CMANYC13



I was lucky enough to attend this year’s College Media Association’s spring national college media convention in New York City a couple of weeks ago with a number of The Gatepost’s editors.

It was a phenomenal experience to say the least.  Not only was it my first time in NYC, but I also had the chance to attend some extremely informative seminars and keynote speaker sessions.  The keynote speakers included Co-host of the 9 a.m. hour of NBC’s the “Today Show” and MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Willie Geist, Vice President and Publisher of Teen Vogue Jason Wagenheim and Twitter’s Manager of Journalism and News, Founder of the digital journalism blog 10,000 Words and Author of “The Digital Journalist’s Handbook” Mark Luckie.  I also got to meet CBS’ “60 Minutes” Associate Producer Sumi Aggarwal at an informational session about landing a job in journalism.

The convention even had its own Twitter hashtag: #CMANYC13.

Among the seminars I attended, one of my favorites was the very first one I went to: “Thinking Like an Editor” with Bill Elsen, who formerly worked for The Washington Post and is now a consultant for three college newspaper websites.  According to the seminar’s description in the Official Convention Program, “You can be terrific at making story assignments, editing copy, writing headlines, designing pages and the other nuts and bolts of producing a publication – if you master the not-so-obvious.  Learn how to manage people, avert crises and generally not drive yourself nuts.”

I figured I’d share my own notes from the seminar:

Elsen remarked that being a student journalist is difficult – they have to go to class, they’re not just working for a newspaper.

He said there are two leadership skills student editors need to have:

  1. Flexibility
  2. Versatility

Elsen said student editors:

  • Can’t be just one thing (i.e. a reporter) anymore (both in their current roles and future ones).  They need to be able to be everything, including “mojos”: mobile journalists
  • Multimedia is and will continue to play a huge role in journalism

He said there are a few things student editors need to have in place at their papers:

  1. Mission Statement that says, “This is what we do, our job is to serve… (students, faculty, staff, alums, grandma even)
  2. Publish a staff manual containing jobs and their descriptions
  3. Make a localized stylebook – more than just AP.  There should be an online version and it should be made available to everyone
  4. Learn to accept constructive criticism
  5. Improve website
  6. Provide for the people who work for you, which includes:

–        Good time management

–        Making priorities

–        Gaining respect and being a leader

–        Being the best reporter, editor, photo chooser, video shooter, photographer and audio tech. (Elsen reminded students to not photograph someone in the middle of a picture, but on either side)

–        Provide skills

He said in terms of understanding ethics and legal issues (he advised students to learn about FERPA, which he said is the “biggest crutch used in the U.S.”):

  • Be careful
  • Definitely use “declined to comment”

Elsen asked, “Can you deal with people – especially your own age?”  He advised:

  • Don’t criticize other editors/staff members in front of everyone – pull them aside in the hallway
  • Compliment them in front of everyone

He said to use good judgment

  • Always ask for help
  • Make friends with computer people!
  • Meet with advisor on a regular basis (he said, “a good one will keep their nose out of business for the most part – it’s your paper not theirs)
  • Dialogue

He said responsibility to audience is:

  • Not to the university president, etc. – “grown up jerks who think we don’t know enough to write good, clean journalism”

–        Work around these people

Elsen said to cross train the staff to:

  • Have many kills
  • Be mojos

–        Focus on their skills first

–        Cross training is a great way to avoid last-minute issues

In order to avoid last-minute issues, Elsen advised to keep a scoreboard in Dropbox of everything for a given issue:

–        Page numbers

–        Headlines

–        What has and hasn’t been copyedited

–        What photos/graphics have/need

–        Links to websites

  • Managing editors are in charge of in order to keep track of what is and isn’t done

Elsen talked about what he called the “inverted inverted pyramid” – the order/organization of the newsroom:

  • Associate editors – maybe have one for print and one for online
  • Editors of sections and website

In terms of trainingnewbies,” he said:

  • They can’t email stories in – they should be in the newsroom with you, so you can go through stories with them
  • Assign freshmen to go around buildings, read bulletin boards and meet secretaries in order to develop beats (story ideas)

He said to have as manybudget” – planning – meetings as possible

He advised to not use Twitter too much

He said to never email criticism

In terms of dealing withproblem people,” he said:

  • Make clear what behavior is unacceptable
  • First time something happens, take that person aside and tell them
  • Establish a pattern – three strikes and you’re out

He said if university gives newspaper a hard time about having own website to:

  • Do it anyway
  • Be objective
  • Be truthful
  • Be accurate

To see an infographic I think is pertinent to aspiring journalists and student newspaper editors, go hereDesigner is unknown via

The above pictures are via

Lee Brice: truly not ‘hard to love’

Country singer Lee Brice performs at FSU.

Country singer Lee Brice performs at FSU.

As overused as my claim is – it’s true: Lee Brice is, in fact, not hard to love.

I know, because I got to both interview him via phone and cover his performance at Framingham State University’s annual Student Union Activities Board-sponsored spring concert for The Gatepost.

A few days before the country singer arrived to steal the hearts of FSU’s country fans, I and one of The Gatepost’s Associate Editors Kerrin Murray waited for him to call us so we could ask him a few questions.

He was polite from the very beginning all the way through the end of our five-minute talk – we had originally been given a 15-minute time limit, but clearly, he’s used to keeping interviews short and sweet.

He even laughed at our last question: “Would you say you are hard to love?” He admitted that although he tries not be, being away from his family while performing is hard for them. However, his seemingly friendly personality portrayed him as anything but hard to love.

The same could be said about his performance at FSU. It was clear from the way the floor shook in the Dwight Performing Arts Center that the audience was more than impressed by this year’s spring concert headliner.

To learn more about the concert and interview, check out my article “Not ‘hard to love’” and Brice’s Q&A with Kerrin and me.

Photo courtesy Alexis Huston via The Gatepost.

Getting to cover Dalton and the Sheriffs was a great experience

Dalton and the Sheriffs performing at the Simple Man Saloon on Feb. 18.

Dalton and the Sheriffs performing at the Simple Man Saloon on Feb. 18.

I was very fortunate to be able to cover a performance of Boston-based country band Dalton and the Sheriffs for The Gatepost a couple of weeks ago.

I was introduced to the band last summer through a family friend whose son occassionally plays the mandolin with the band. I saw the band play a couple of times at the Simple Man Saloon in Clinton, MA – the same restaurant in which I covered Dalton’s Feb. 18 performance.

That performance was a tribute to former Clinton resident Maia McDermott who died in a car accident two years ago.

In my article “‘Boston country’ band thanks local fans for success,” I explain:

The event included raffling two Celtics tickets to raise money for “Team 01510,” the Clinton affiliate of Breast Intentions, Inc., which helps Breast Cancer patients pay their personal expenses, because helping those in need is something McDermott was passionate about. …

McDermott’s mother Lori McDermott, who promoted the event on Facebook, said because Maia’s brother occasionally plays with Dalton, “we’re connected to them.”

Lori said her family decided to come together to celebrate Maia’s life, and because she had been a country music fan and was passionate about helping breast cancer patients, they thought the combination was a “perfect match.” The raffle raised $365, but $540 was raised in total for “Team 01510” because of additional donations.

I originally covered the performace for a feature assignment for the feature writing class I’m taking this semester, with the hope of having it published in The Gatepost, and I’m really glad I did.

After interviewing both the band’s lead singer Brian Scully and Maia’s mother, I knew how important it was that I write about Dalton’s and Maia’s stories.

I also live tweeted the show, which was really cool because it was the first time I officially live tweeted an event. I’m happy to report I got a couple of retweets, including one from the band.

The show was lively and full of both the band’s original songs – including one of my personal favorites: “You Ain’t Her” – and covers of popular country and rock tunes like Lee Brice’s “Hard To Love” and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Kind Of Man.”

Initially, I almost wrote about something else for my feature assignment, but I know now I would have regretted not covering Dalton and the Sheriffs’ performance for Maia.

Follow Dalton and the Sheriffs on Twitter @DaltonSheriffs and on their Facebook page Watch Dalton and the Sheriffs’ “You Ain’t Her” music video here.

I took the above photo of Dalton and the Sheriffs.