Letter from the editor: Thank you for a historic, unforgettable year

By Claire Desmarais | May 1, 2020 9:12am
Claire Desmarais is the editor-in-chief for The Beacon.
Media Credit: Annika Gordon / The Beacon

Three years ago, my mom sent me a recruiting video on Facebook inviting University of Portland students to apply to work at The Beacon. At the time, I lacked a sense of belonging at UP, so I decided to apply and started working as a reporter in the fall of 2017. Then, I was hired as the news and managing editor, and finally, as the editor-in-chief for my senior year. Little would I know how much The Beacon would impact my life, and how much fulfillment I would gain from leading and working with a community of intelligent, creative and caring individuals.

This past year, we’ve witnessed historic moments, both at UP and globally. Many of them have brought much sadness to the UP community. Our staffers covered tremendously difficult moments, such as the death of former UP freshman Owen Klinger or the assault of a university employee. Since starting remote reporting due to COVID-19, our staff has continued to provide information and stories on the pandemic and other topics.

Through all these situations, I’ve been fortunate to see the impact that sharing these stories through our platform has had on the community. Despite the sadness around us, the resilience of UP students and Beacon staffers remains unfazed. 

The Beacon's work has also been acknowledged far beyond The Bluff. This last year, The Beacon won the Society of Professional Journalists’ Mark of Excellence awards in 13 categories, which include breaking news photography, general news reporting and editorial writing, as well as other categories. Through these pieces, our staffers helped shed light on important issues and provide a voice to different members of the UP community. 

During my time at The Beacon, I’ve helped cover significant moments at UP, such as the protest against Fr. Paul Scalia and the conversations around the 2018 Wally Awards. I covered how ROTC must adjust training in the era of mass shootings and the dangers of the crosswalk at the UP entrance. I also reported on more personal stories, such as how breast cancer has affected my own life and other UP students’ lives. 

As editor-in-chief, I would not have been able to do this job without the help and support of my amazing news and managing editor, Maddie Pfeifer. Throughout the year, she tackled breaking news stories, covered incredibly difficult and emotional stories, and always pursued the truth. To Maddie, thank you for being my partner throughout this year. Your passion and desire to seek the truth and report it fulfilled The Beacon’s and journalism’s mission, serving as an example for all staffers. 

To my editorial staff — Annika, Dora, Maddie, Gabi, Ana, Kyle and Ally — each of you has contributed to The Beacon’s success this year. Your attention to detail, careful deliberation and drive to cover controversial or important issues created valuable and necessary stories for the UP community. I will cherish every Wednesday night editorial board meeting and remember the laughter and stress-filled times we shared. 

To all Beacon staffers, thank you for your resilience and patience throughout the year. Working for The Beacon is difficult, and you showed grace throughout the process. The stories you write matter. Your voice matters. Thank you for your willingness and determination to fearlessly pursue the truth. 

And to Nancy Copic, who is The Beacon’s faculty advisor, thank you for providing the staff and me with the confidence to write stories. Through the countless meetings in your office, pep talks, and careful deliberations of ethical dilemmas, your role in The Beacon is irreplaceable. 

Thank you to The Beacon for drastically changing my life when I needed it most and for providing me with a second family. Next year’s editor-in-chief, Gabi DiPaulo, and news and managing editor, Austin De Dios, will take on new, bigger roles. And I have full faith that they are more than capable. 

With great love and thanks, 

Claire Desmarais

Claire Desmarais is the 2019-20 editor-in-chief for The Beacon. She can be reached at desmarai20@up.edu.