Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Letter from the Editor: On breaking news and intentional reporting

So often as journalists, we are told there is “a way things have always been.” 

We set our deadlines and work towards them diligently to remain consistent, remain efficient. We carry our cameras and notebooks and write what we see, where, and when we see it. We follow a style guide to keep things uniform, to keep them constant. 

And we report quickly because our audience has been conditioned to expect it. 

As this semester’s editor-in-chief and as just one of the many devoted journalists who will work to inform and serve our generation, I feel strongly about challenging typical journalistic norms. 

Within our publication, I and the rest of our incredible staff have spent time deeply questioning the way things have always been done in journalism and imagining new possibilities of what they could be. We have worked to envision a brighter future for journalism and to responsibly work towards it through each person we interview, event we attend, and story we tell. 

This past week, our staff found ourselves at a true crossroads of either following the traditional path set out for us or charting a new one. We chose the latter, and as I am committed to remaining transparent with our student body, I feel it only fitting to explain the reasoning behind doing so. 

Undoubtedly, the events of March 22 will go down in our school’s history for years to come. 

As the incident unfolded last Friday, our publication quickly received numerous accounts of the arrests outside the Cutler Majestic Theater. Standards of traditional journalism would have pushed us to release information as swiftly as possible and applauded us for being the first to break the developing story. Though external pressures pushed us to do just this, our newsroom decided to take a step back and map out the impact our story could and would have on our school community. 

Above all else, The Berkeley Beacon is a student newspaper. Over the course of the past few semesters, we have worked diligently to understand and embrace this role and what it means not just for our coverage, but for our peers. Though we have undoubtedly made mistakes in the past, we are working to better them, better ourselves, better our publication, and better our ability to be a voice for the students of Emerson. 

This being said, we did not and do not feel a breaking news story would have best served our students on March 22.  In the hours following the incident, we were unable to obtain an official statement regarding the arrests despite our consistent efforts, and did not feel we could provide the accurate, well-rounded information our community needed at that time.

At the beginning of this semester, during a Beacon workshop, we discussed how breaking news often does much more harm than it does good. News outlets are caught in a never-ending cycle of pushing out breaking news in an attempt to get to the story first, regardless of the ways communities could be negatively affected. So often, these reports lack context, intentionality, and follow-through. 

In an effort to change this, I worked alongside our news team to create a plan for holistically covering this event—how could we uplift the voices centered on this issue, and what steps would we take to do so?

Following the arrests, our paper has worked to explore every possible angle through a series of coverage and will continue to do so in the weeks to come. 

Though some may feel frustrated and confused by the lack of new coverage since Sunday, we felt it best to delay online publication and instead keep this week’s edition in its full capacity. As a foundationally print publication, we made this decision to allow students and the Emerson community to digest information in its entirety. 

Now that a course of action has been created and our initial reports have been published, we will continue gathering information and updating our community via a developing story thread. 

We recognize the need to be more deliberate in not just reporting quickly, but reporting holistically. Even more so, we recognize the immeasurable impact such an event will have on our campus and are dedicated to covering it respectfully, thoughtfully, and beyond all else, intentionally. 

As our entire school community navigates what is undoubtedly an uncertain and unprecedented time, The Berkeley Beacon will remain committed to telling the stories you want to hear. 

Above everything, we hope to serve as a voice for those who need it most at this time and encourage any individual or organization to reach out should they feel they have a story that needs to be heard. 

Right now, as student journalists, we are looking ahead at the way things can and should be.

We ask questions, we listen, and we care about the answers. We pick up our pens and raise up our cameras to show you what we see and to inspire what we don’t. We write the stories that deserve to be written. 

And we report intentionally because the people—you, our Emerson student body—deserve it. 

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About the Contributor
Sophia Pargas
Sophia Pargas, Editor-in-Chief
Sophia Pargas (she/her) is a senior Journalism and Marketing Communications double major from Miami, Florida. She has served on the Beacon since her sophomore year, using it as an opportunity to grow professionally and cover the things that matter to her—personal narratives, culture, ethics, arts, and much more. Outside of the paper, Sophia is a member of Alpha Epsilon Phi, an Engagement Lab student fellow, and has held several journalism and marketing internships at NBCUniversal, NBC South Florida, NBC Boston, and WCVB. To learn more about Sophia, her passions, and her experience, visit her personal portfolio "The SCP Journal." 

Comments (2)

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  • P

    Peter / Mar 27, 2024 at 9:30 pm

    How would a breaking news story be a bad decision in this case? Your job is to inform and by declining to publish you failed your student body desperate for accurate information.

    • P

      Peter's friend / Mar 28, 2024 at 4:33 pm

      She explained that there were no official reports. There is no failure here.