University President Fr. Mark Poorman has appointed junior Claire Desmarais to be editor-in-chief of The Beacon for the 2019-2020 academic year.
Desmarais, a marketing major and Spanish minor from Yakima, Washington, currently serves as news and managing editor for The Beacon. She first applied for a reporter position the spring of her freshman year after her mom sent her a recruitment video for The Beacon.
Desmarais said she wanted to be a part of a community on campus, have a sense of belonging at UP, and also grow her writing and people skills. She joined The Beacon the first semester of her sophomore year and has enjoyed seeing the impact the news source has on campus.
“I just think it’s really incredible to see how students who are just 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22 years old can impact this campus through change, through our words,” Desmarais said. “Words have such an incredible impact on what we do and choosing what we get to amplify.”
Desmarais said she learned quickly as a reporter and expanded her writing and interviewing skills by receiving constructive criticism from her editors. She was hired as news and managing editor by Hannah Sievert, the current editor-in-chief, after just one year of reporting.
Desmarais believes her role as news and managing editor this year has improved her journalism and leadership skills and prepared her for taking on the job of editor-in-chief.
Assistant director for student media and adviser to The Beacon, Nancy Copic, said that Desmarais’ organization and management skills, along with her ability to empathize with staff members, make her an excellent leader. Although Desmarais did not have any prior journalism experience, she came into The Beacon ready to learn, grow and go outside of her comfort zone.
“Claire is a great example of someone who has had no journalism experience, is not interested in a journalism career — she’s a marketing major — and yet, she has been an integral part of the team and will be even more so next year,” Copic said.
As editor-in-chief, Desmarais hopes to develop staff members professionally and encourage more diversity and inclusion in the stories The Beacon covers. She also wants to see The Beacon grow its presence on campus.
“I want The Beacon to become a part of every student’s daily life because I think it’s such an important news source for people to have,” Desmarais said.
Poorman, publisher of The Beacon, appointed Desmarais the position after receiving a recommendation on her behalf from the Presidential Advisory Committee on Student Media.
Desmarais will succeed current Editor-in-Chief Hannah Sievert, who will graduate in May.
“She’s someone that I would just trust with this,” Sievert said. “I would trust her with The Beacon. I think she’s totally capable of doing it well and I’ve seen her put so much effort and thought and just so much into The Beacon. I know she really cares which is why I know she’ll be a really good editor-in-chief.”
Maddie Pfeifer is a reporter at The Beacon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.