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Photo courtesy of Mitchell Chapman, © Punkster Photography

Journalism Student Jump-starts Newspaper Career

12/14/16

An aspiring journalist, Mitchell Chapman ’18 of Pittsfield, Mass., will graduate with a wealth of experience. He’s not only the managing editor at MCLA’s student-run newspaper, The Beacon, he also works part-time at The Berkshire Eagle as a page designer and copy editor.

An English/Communications major whose writing was published by the Eagle, Chapman decided to approach Kevin Moran, the vice president of news at New England Newspapers, when he learned the company was looking for people with InDesign skills.

“As a page designer I read the page budget for any given paper, and drop the stories and photos on the page as the editors want,” Chapman explained. “My main job is to make the stories look good.”

Once a page is designed, it’s printed out and put on a pasteboard, where Chapman and other editors and paginators check for errors.

According to Moran, it’s been a long-standing practice at the Eagle to include MCLA interns in the newsroom. In the past several months alone, he’s hired four MCLA students to staff the newspaper’s news page design desk.

“They have the skills and the talent to do this work, and what you see every day in the pages of The Berkshire Eagle, the Bennington Banner, the Brattleboro Reformer and the Manchester Journal is their news design work product,” Moran said.

“That’s what they do: Build the newspaper starting from a blank screen,” Moran continued. “They do a great job. I call them my A-Team. They’re a tight bunch who really care about the work that we do here at The Berkshire Eagle.”

According to Chapman, MCLA has a “very strong” journalism program, with “great ties to the papers in the region.”

In addition to his editing work, Chapman also enjoys writing for the Eagle. His most popular article – about author J.K. Rowling’s decision to base her Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry story on the region’s history and folklore, placing her fictitious school atop nearby Mt. Greylock – made the newspaper’s front page.

As a reporter, Chapman says he is dedicated to finding facts and uncovering truths that impact people’s lives. He also enjoys writing reviews, which he’s done for various websites over the past five years. “To analyze and break down art in an intimate manner like that is a treat.” 

At the Beacon, he meets with the writers to assign stories, and serves as an administrative voice for the paper. He also writes at least two stories and designs three pages – including the front page – each week.

The Beacon has granted me professional skills and connections to start my career while still in college, which I hope will only grow when I graduate,” Chapman said. “MCLA will get you in a position where you are ready to take on a job.”