Hear from Beacon alums who posted their Beacon memories as The Beacon celebrated its80th birthday.
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Brigid Schulte of The Washington Post: “The Beacon helped light the way.”
“I’m not sure if it was slicing up long reams of typeset copy with an exacto knife and laying out pages of The Beacon late at night – keeping an eye out for the other slap-happy staffers with a penchant for lighting fire crackers – or all the black and white photo developing chemical fumes I inhaled during the countless absorbing and happy hours I spent in the darkroom in the basement of Christie, but my years at the University of Portland set me out on a journey to tell true stories about the way we live that has taken me from New York to Wyoming and South Carolina, from the White House and halls of Congress, to homeless shelters, fields of rare orchids, bat caves and Haitian coups. Margaret Mead used to say that she was wise enough to never grow up, I imagine because she found such joy and meaning in her work. I feel the same.
The Beacon helped light the way.”
UP/Beacon alumna, Washington Post staff writer, Pulitzer prize winner, author of New York Times best-selling book “Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play when No One Has the Time” – published in 2014 by Sarah Crichton Books/ Farrar Straus & Giroux
Joe Freeman of Oregonian Media Group: “…one of the best decisions I ever made.”
Oregonian Media Group
“When I stepped foot on The Bluff for the first time as a wide-eyed freshman in 1995, one of the first things I did was waltz over to St. Mary’s Student Center and check in on The Beacon offices.
I was 18. I was excited about college and living on my own for the first time. But even more, I was excited about finding my footing and figuring out what I wanted to do “when I grew up.” I was pretty sure I wanted to be a journalist— I had my sights set on being a newspaper reporter — and I figured the best way to make that happen was to join the newspaper staff and start writing.
It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Nineteen years later, here am I, covering the Portland Trail Blazers for The Oregonian — Portland’s daily newspaper. I’m doing exactly what I set out to do.
And it all started with that walk to The Beacon offices. I was challenged academically at the University of Portland through a rigorous, diverse and fun course load. But for journalists — for writers — the best way to hone your craft and find your voice is to practice. And practice means writing. It means reporting. It means learning how to build relationships with people and figuring out how to get them to open up and tell you their stories, so you can write those stories.
Oh, sure, I took plenty of writing classes with plenty of gifted professors. They no doubt helped. But it was the countless hours I spent reporting for The Beacon, the long days I devoted to writing stories that would appear every Thursday in its pages, that helped me the most.
There was no greater thrill than waking up Thursday morning and seeing my name on the front page of the paper. My friends, my peers, even total strangers, were reading my work. And that kept me on my toes. I had to be good. I had to feel proud about what I wrote.
But working for The Beacon did more than empower me. It did more than prepare me. It set up my future.
When newspapers and magazines and blogs and public relation firms look to hire writers — even for internships — they want to see proof that the person they are hiring is competent, capable and talented. And they don’t solely judge that based on a college degree or a GPA. They want to see writing samples. When I applied for summer internships while I was at UP, I didn’t just submit a resume and a cover letter and a few references, I also submitted 10 “clips” — stories that I had written at The Beacon.
Those clips helped me land my first internship. And then, when I was a senior at UP, the combined clips from that internship and The Beacon helped me land an internship at The Oregonian. It was a snowball effect. My work at The Beacon led to one internship, which led to another, which led to the job I have today.
I was a good student. I studied, went to class, did my work. But not one recruiter or editor asked me about my college classes or my GPA when I was applying for internships or jobs. They wanted to see my writing samples. It was the work I put in during my time at The Beacon that led me to my future career as a journalist.
What if it hadn’t worked out? What if I hated working at The Beacon? What if the long hours at St. Mary’s proved to be too much? Well, I would have moved on to something else, found another field that interested me, and forged ahead toward a different path in life. But it would have been beneficial either way. And even still, 19 years later, I would look back on that walk to The Beacon and think:
It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. ”
Joe Freeman, UP/Beacon alumnus and sports journalist for Oregonian Media Group
Look who else worked at their college newspaper:
Brian Stelter, former New York Times reporter now at CNN, author
David Simon, Creator/Executive Producer of HBO’s “The Wire” and “Treme”
Nora Ephron, Essayist, Novelist and ScreenWriter
Tom Brokaw, NBC broadcaster, author
Janet Yellen, Federal Reserve chair
Willie Geist, host of NBC’s “Today” show
Flannery O’Connor, fiction writer
Jason Wagenheim, Publisher of Teen Vogue
Stephen King, novelist
Olivia Munn, actress on “The Newsroom”
Peter Gammons, Hall of Fame sports columnist
Christine Brennan, USA Today sports columnist
Susan Faludi, Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, author
Al Neuharth, founder of USA Today
Jacob Weisberg, editor of Slate
Roger Ebert, legendary film critic
Sam Feist, CNN Washington Bureau Chief