While many college students spent their sophomore years figuring out what they want to do, Gabi Wy of the University of Southern Indiana has spent her second year of college pursuing her passion and deepening her knowledge of an ever-evolving media landscape.
Gabi has already participated in the Asian American Journalists Association’s VOICES program and the Discover Your Drive Diversity Journalism Program, and those experiences have encouraged her to become a multimedia journalist. Additionally, she has grown her passion for diversity in journalism.
What is your year, major and title?
You are an underclassmen and yet have already participated in two advanced journalism programs. Why did you seek those opportunities?
I never really thought twice about applying for those opportunities the second I heard about them. At times, when you’re just attending classes at your school and taking local opportunities, you feel a little stuck. I’m a dreamer and envision myself traveling the world. These opportunities seemed like the perfect blend of getting valuable experience and also satisfying a little bit of my thirst for adventure. From both experiences, I’ve been blessed to meet professional journalists who are willing to vouch for me when I apply for other opportunities, and that’s priceless. I’ve made amazing connections I couldn’t have made otherwise.
What is your biggest takeaway from the AAJA VOICES program?
VOICES gave me the confidence I needed to cover really important stories. I’m fascinated by criminal justice, but until that point, I hadn’t covered much beyond the crime that happens on our campus. One of my projects for VOICES was a story about the Las Vegas Metro Police Department and their progress with body-worn cameras. To be honest, I got really scared for a second, because that was the first time I really felt like I was covering something that reached beyond our campus. With the help of my mentor, I was able to build up the confidence to write about a police department across the country from my hometown and talk to key figures about a pretty important issue today. As only a freshman, I had felt I didn’t have the capacity to be covering things like that. With VOICES help, I proved myself wrong.
Also, I interviewed a guy who was wearing nothing but a diaper, bib and bonnet for a video of Fremont Street performers. He calls himself the Lost Baby in Las Vegas. That’s something I’ll never forget.
What was your greatest learning experience from the Discover Your Drive Diversity Journalism Program?
Discover Your Drive was all about teamwork. With the help of some pretty awesome students and mentors, I helped produce a video on the top technologies that came out of the North American International Auto Show. I found myself focusing on things I don’t necessarily always gravitate towards, like photography and video editing. It pushed me out of my comfort zone (especially since I am the farthest thing from a car fanatic) and taught me to adapt. We were all really, really pleased with the result, which was published in Inc. Magazine.
Why do you think it’s so important for college journalists to be learning about diversity?
It’s crucial for college journalists and really just plain journalists to learn about diversity, simply because there is such a lack of it in our profession. Sometimes it’s incredibly difficult to be the only minority in your newsroom. There needs to be active effort to increase the range of viewpoints you have at news sources. Through these two very diversity-focused programs I’ve been in, I’ve realized how valuable it is to have individuals from so many different backgrounds working together on projects. Without diversity in newsrooms, critical stories about the American demographic could be missed simply because there isn’t anyone with the eye to catch it.
What advice would you give a student who is trying to get involved in programs like you have?
Apply for as many of these opportunities as you can. AAJA Voices, despite being the Asian American Journalists Association, is not confined to just Asian Americans or minorities. Most of these diversity programs (if not all of them) welcome any demographic who applies. It never hurts you to send in an application, and I wouldn’t trade the skills I’ve learned from them and the connections I’ve made for the world.
Also, don’t think that just because you’re an underclassman or haven’t had much professional experience they won’t pick you. My only experience when I applied for VOICES was at my school newspaper and school radio station.
What is your career goal?
I started out college thinking I was set on being a reporter either on the cops or courts sort of beat, but I think my tastes have expanded. I think now I’d like to be a versatile, multimedia reporter at a newspaper/news source covering lots of different things throughout my career. I picked journalism because it’s a career in which you never stop learning, and there’s always new things around every corner. With the competitive nature of the field, I probably need to be open to trying a lot of different things.
Dan Reimold, the founder of CMM, loved to ask people to write their memoirs in six words. What would yours be?
“She wrote because there was hope.”
Just in time for its 40th birthday, The Campus Ledger at Johnson County Community College in Kansas is going under the knife – it’s cutting print.
When the paper returns in the fall, it won’t be paper, but it will be a new challenge for the students and staff involved.
Nell Gross, editor in chief, said the switch will probably make her life easier and will serve the readers better.
“It’s been difficult to split up my time between print and digital,” she said. “It’s a lot of work for such a small staff to do. And this is how most people our age get their news. How they are most likely to see it.”
Corbin Crable, the paper’s adviser, said he agrees.
“As a student publication, we must adapt to the ever-changing needs and demands of our audience,” he said. “Our research has shown that both our social media activity and web hits have increased in recent years, while print readership and advertising revenue continues to slowly decline.”
Crable said the transition has been in the works for three years, and has benefitted from converging with the radio and video groups on campus.
“We operate in a converged newsroom alongside our counterparts at the campus Internet radio station and the student-run video production outlet,” he said. “So even if a reporter couldn’t post a full article each day, or a photog couldn’t post a photo or gallery each day, we would at least help cross-promote our other media outlets by posting podcasts, video news packages, or full multimedia packages.”
Tips from Johnson County Community College
- This is certainly not a decision to be made hastily. Research other collegiate publications that have made the same move to become an exclusively online media outlet.
- Network with student editors and advisers who have made the leap and learn from them what worked and what didn’t.
Survey your campus community to get a sense of what they truly want to see in your website and social media presence.
- Find out where your students live. If most live off campus or telecommute, a print edition might not be a good fit.
- Work with your existing and incoming staff members to carefully craft the changes in employee roles, schedules and workflow.
Above all else, be patient as all involved get used to this new operation.
Acknowledge and embrace the reality that mistakes will be made and that the transition won’t be flawless, but be proud of the fact that, in most cases, you’re operating in the best interests of your campus community and its media consumers.
Ahhhh, the April Fools’ Day edition. Some media outlets avoid the concept altogether, some go all in and some carefully label each piece of satire. But sometimes these things are just fun (when done right). Here is a sample of what your college media companions were up to this week.
North Dakota State University: Normally the Spectrum, but this week The Rectum
Pepperdine University: Where the Graphic becomes the Grunion (think Graphic and Onion)
Colorado State University: The Rocky Mountain Collegian reported on what it called a “unique story”:
SUNY Buffalo State: The Record produced such a great joke, University of Buffalo students believed it.
Rice University: The Rice Thresher normally, but this special edition is the Trasher
Capital University: Usually The Chimes, but they are The Funion around April 1.
Missouri Western State University: The Griffon News Network pokes for at their adviser, Bob Bergland, for warning against April Fools’ Day pranks.
A lot of college media folks are talking about the latest trends – reducing or dropping print, focusing on digital first content, finding new revenue streams, keeping up with technology. We’ve heard about these trends so much, we might be tired of them.
But we can get excited about something The Triton at the University of California, San Diego is doing. Starting a news outlet from scratch and celebrating its success. That’s a trend many of us could probably get behind.
Gabe Schneider, founder and current editor in chief, said he wanted to start The Triton because he didn’t feel the student newspaper, The Guardian, was covering hard news and student opinion.
“They weren’t covering campus issues and protests,” he said. “We thought it would be important to expand coverage and not just news.”
Incoming editor in chief Jaz Twersky said she agrees.
“The Guardian is funded directly by the university and is an older institution and is still more PR in focus,” Twersky said. “We were in need of an independent news on campus to do investigative work.”
Managing editor Aleena Karamally said she agrees on the importance of founding an independent outlet, but also stressed the importance of the digital approach.
“The Triton is a digital source of news and does not print,” Karamally said. “We find digital media to be much more accessible and convenient for our audience.”
Additionally Schneider said UC-San Diego doesn’t focus on student journalism as much as other schools in the UC system.
“When you look at the other UCs, the missing puzzle piece is we aren’t known for student journalism,” Schneider said. “We are known for the Koala. But [UCSD] has a rich history. Conservative, and liberal papers and minority focused papers. Everything.”
The Koala, known for humor and doing whatever they want, created such a controversy on campus in 2016 that the administration officially denounced them and the Associated Students council decided to defund all student publications. There was then a lawsuit filed by the ACLU.
But not only didn’t that negatively impact The Triton (they’ve always been independent), it might have helped their cause.
“It got students talking and evaluating media on campus,” he said. “The defunding acted as a catalyst for us to keep pursuing independent student journalism.”
Twersky said the defunding reiterated the importance of being completely independent, and Karamally said it sent a message about how the campus feels about student-produced media.
“Defunding print media without concern for the future of student publications seemed to express our administration and student government’s lack of value for student press on campus,” Karamally said.
Being completely independent seems to have helped The Triton. In the short time it has been around, the staff has grown to around 50 members, website hits are around 5,000 a day and the staff is planning to put together an advisory board.
“Folks just want to get involved,” Schneider said.
Karamally said the quality of the Triton content has helped with recruitment.
“Our staff has been drawn to this publication because of the content and results we produce,” she said. “It is the drive and initiative of our staff that has kept this publication not only running but constantly improving and progressing.”
Twersky, who is currently opinions editor, agrees that content helps recruit, but she still actively seeks out diverse voices.
“We’ve reached out pretty actively when they seem like they’d be a good fit for the paper,’ she said. “My team is a mix of people who reach out to me and who I’ve reached out to.”
Twersky said that while recruitment is going well, turnover, that at all college media, is constant, so an advisory board is important.
“[An advisory board] could serve as a steadying and grounding influence,” she said. “By helping us do our work in an informed way and help us maintain best practices, they could be helpful.”
Schneider said he agrees and hopes a council will be a great support system.
“An advisory board will hopefully help anchor us,” he said. “[We are] hoping that they’ll advocate for us. Students are tuned in, we’re not sure administration or faculty are. We’d like to see stronger involvement all around.”
Schneider said he hopes to see The Triton thrive in the next few years.
“I’d like to see us have a permanent space on campus,” he said. “Non profit status. 150 staffers. As we increase students on campus, there’s a bigger need to tell students what is going on.”
Twersky and Karamally want those things and more.
“I hope there is a journalism minor at UCSD,” Twersky said. “And that it’ll work with us.”
Karamally hopes The Triton will offer “panel discussions, workshops, and connections to internships for students.”
When the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors decided to cut funding for Nicholls State University La Pirogue yearbook, they got more than perhaps they bargained for. They got Hollyn Millet.
Hollyn, a sophomore birth to 5th grade education major, has been serving as editor in chief of the 69-year-old yearbook and leading the charge to save the publication.
“[We] are pretty worked up, pretty passionate,” she said.
The board of supervisors decided Feb. 23 to eliminate the $10 yearbook fee students at Nicholls pay for the 352 page yearbook. But students at Nicholls don’t get to keep that $10. Nope, it’ll be split up into two $5 fees for Student Success and QEP programs. Even though it’s unsure exactly what those programs will use the fees for.
Not only does Hollyn not understand why the yearbook has to be sacrificed for the two additional fees, she said students didn’t have any input in the matter.
“The La Pirogue students [had] no input into the discussion to discontinue the fee,” Hollyn said. “Nor did the student body, who pay the fee.”
According to a story in the Nicholls Worth newspaper (fun name, right?), the administration claims student interest in yearbooks has waned and technological advances have negatively impacted the book.
According to another story, there’s $498,807.87 in the La Pirogue account as of Feb. 22. Enough to publish the book for years to come without the help of the fee. But it sounds like the administration wants that money, too. Though they haven’t said for what yet. Hollyn hopes the yearbook can keep some of it.
“I really, really hope that they would let us keep a little bit of the money,” she said. “This is Nicholls history.”
But don’t imagine that Hollyn and her staff are taking this lying down. To begin with, they are focused on producing a really great 2017 book.
“We are going above and beyond to produce it and have it out on time,” she said. “[Our theme is] ‘Oh the places we’ve been,’ and it’s highlighting past [coverage and contributions] made by the yearbook. We mean it to make the administration know this [book] does matter.”
She said the staff is united in making their voices heard.
“All my staff is very passionate about the yearbook,” Hollyn said. “They feel the same way. They [are] pretty worked up. They [do] everything.”
That everything includes attending every meeting they can, signing the petition to save the book and bringing awareness to the situation.
And it’s not just her staff that cares. The student government passed a resolution asking the administration to give the money to student publications. And other students are just as concerned.
“Students have been posting and expressing their concerns and feelings about the decision,” Hollyn said.
And they are concerned, she said.
“If [the administration] did this behind closed doors, what is next? Students are worried.”
Additionally, she’s working with alumni to develop an awareness campaign.
But if the yearbook really does go away, Hollyn won’t.
“I will still work with KNSU (radio) or The Nicholls Worth,” she said. “Student media is my home away from home. The first time I walked in the stud publications office, I knew I was meant to be here.”
Hollyn said she is still unsure what will happen in the long run. But in the meantime, she said others can help.
“Share our stories, like us on Facebook,” Hollyn said. “Cause more of an uprise. It’s not just Nicholls. It’s the community, the state. And yearbooks in general.”
You can sign their petition here.
Kaylee Fagan spent years putting off the newspaper class required of her at San Francisco State University. She knew she wanted to do something different that didn’t fit with the traditional print product, so she was hesitant to take a class that required her to work at the student newspaper.
When she finally signed up for the course in her third year, she decided to pitch one of her different ideas: a weekly video series that focused on what was being called fake news, exploring its origins and proliferation.
“I’d heard somewhere in my time in university,” Fagan said, “that you should do the work in college that you want to be paid to do after college. So that stuck with me.”
Fagan pitched her idea for The Fake News Watch and was thrilled when the idea was accepted.
“I knew I had multiple ideas for things I wanted to make that weren’t going to be news copy,” she said. “I embraced it and pitched this idea. And I got approved to pursue it. It was really exciting.”
The Golden Gate Xpress video series is still new, but Fagan said she believes this topic is very important right now.
“I took the election and the results very personally,” she said. “I felt like what we do in journalism school and what my professors do was at stake. This pursuit of accuracy and getting it right was in danger and threatened. [This is] my own form of resistance.”
While the thoroughly researched show offers much for all audiences, Fagan said students are her primary audience.
“Our main focus is with a younger audience in mind,” she said. “Younger college students who are interested in being media literate. [People who want to learn] how to look critically at the country and their own communities.”
Her lofty goal, to teach students to be more media literate, can affect what kind of media survives these times, she said.
“If [viewers] take anything away from the show, [I hope] it is to be more aware of the media you consume,” Fagan said. “Our individual media consumption is very much vital to what kind of media survives and what media makes good journalism.”
As a student, Fagan said she has had to devote much time to this project on top of classes and a part time job. She said she routinely spends 16-18 hours a week on the video series. She said she also feels she has to please a lot more people than her professional counterparts.
“We are attempting to please a lot of people,” Fagan said. “I know that happens in the professional world, too. We have a unique experience as students with multiple advisers and the department who all have different expectations of us. We are being pulled in a lot of different directions.”
Recently Fagan was asked to speak at the ACP Midwinter Convention about her new project. She said she told students they “shouldn’t be afraid to push the boundaries of what they think student journalism looks like.”
“This was an entirely new format for Xpress,” Fagan said.“It was scary and [we didn’t have a] lot of guidance. [We were] hoping that what we made was something people would watch. I’m so proud that we took that chance and made that leap into the unknown.”
While The Fake News Watch has been educational to viewers, Fagan said she has also learned from the project.
“I have the tendency to not want to start a project if I don’t think I can get it right on the first try,” she said. “This demonstrated how silly and unproductive that is. Pitch the initial idea and start something even if it’s not perfect on the first try.”
Fagan also said she thinks journalism is at a crossroads right now.
“As far as fake news is concerned,” she said. “Fake news comes from so many different places and facets that it’ll either destroy journalism or revitalize it. Journalism, as an industry, needs to regain an understanding of our own place in the landscape and [the fake news myth] has propelled us back into the competition.”
Whenever college yearbook folks hear that another college yearbook is being cancelled or transitioned into something like a magazine or table top book, they get nervous. But when it was announced that the Western Kentucky University Talisman was transitioning, it was hard to be nervous when the students and professionals were so excited about what was next.
The Talisman yearbook was a staple in the CMA Pinnacle Awards and the ACP Pacemakers, so it’s no surprise the first Talisman magazine was a design and story telling success.
Here’s how this successful transition was made from the mouths of the student and professional leaders. Kylee Kaetzel is the very first editor in chief of the Talisman magazine and Charlotte Turtle is the adviser who helped her make a big leap into a new world.
How long did you plan the transition?
Charlotte Turtle (Talisman adviser): The magazine format was something we discussed regularly. Our students wanted to add it to our list of products and many hoped to go into the magazine industry after graduation so it seemed like an obvious choice. In 2013, our budget was cut by 47 percent. We started talking about the possibility of change for the future. Our yearbook moved from a free distribution model to at sales model. For a couple years, we were able to make our budget work with reoccurring one time money. In the midst of this change, we kept discussing the possibility of a new product. A magazine was always at the forefront of the conversation.
In the fall of 2015, we realized that our budget was not going to cover our costs. The yearbook was halfway completed and there was no guarantee we could afford the printing bill with the amount of books we had sold. The two brave editors-in-chief met with the Provost and requested the funds we were lacking. He generously met our need and our 2016 book would be printed. Although this was great news, we knew that we couldn’t go on living this way year to year. The conversation about our future got moved to the front burner during the beginning of the spring semester and we started to be realistic about our options. The 2016 editors needed time to make their yearbook special since it would be the last edition. In the meantime, the leaders for the next year needed time to plan what the magazine could be. We had a very sobering meeting and decided it was time. The announcement was thoughtfully planned for March 15 and after that day we didn’t look back.
What kind of research and input did you seek?
Charlotte: We have a committee of journalism professionals and alumni from our program. They were very involved in the discussion since the initial budget cuts. They gave us some good input from their experiences. We looked to professional magazines who we had been admiring for years. We also went to the list of Pacemaker winners and saw what kinds of work they were producing.
How did you get buy in from your staff and from the university?
Charlotte: Our editors really took the lead to get the staff behind the new idea. Although the loss of the yearbook was something we all took time to mourn, we refocused on the potential of something new. It was a really quick recovery because the excitement of the magazine.
Kylee Kaetzel (Editor in Chief): I wasn’t in on the ground work of the transition, because the co-Editors-in-Chief at the time were at the head of that process. After the transition was definite, and I became Editor-in-Chief of the Talisman Magazine, we had to decide what direction we were going to take this new publication. Although we wanted to keep the storytelling aspect of the Talisman alive, putting that in a magazine format was going to look different. The buzz and excitement from potential staff members was almost overwhelming, as we had dozens of applications to be on staff for the first issue. I think the student body and staff realized that a change was coming, and thankfully, they embraced that change.
It was difficult to know if the university was fully on board with the transition. Although they approved the change, we were still going to need their support in order to make this a success. It was clear that everyone was all-in to the magazine when President Dr. Gary Ransdell showed up to our magazine launch party in December. He came and read through each and every page of the first issue of the Talisman magazine and gave nothing but praise for the product and the way the transition was handled on campus. That is when I knew we had taken the right step by making a magazine.
What has been the hardest part of the switch?
Charlotte: The hardest part was jumping into tight deadlines and figuring out something that was totally new. Defining the type of magazine we wanted to be and the content we wanted to produce had to be nailed down during the first month of school. From there, the editorial board had to convey that new mission to their staffers. All the content had to be produced in a little over a month so we could have time to figure out the look and feel of the magazine before we sent it off to the printer.
Kylee: I was never really on yearbook staff, except for doing public relations and social media, so transitioning from the yearbook to the magazine wasn’t difficult for me. I hadn’t been used to any particular way of executing a yearbook prior to becoming Editor-in-Chief, so I was ready to begin something new. I would say the hardest part of the switch for me has been coordinating the details, from how many pages it will be to what kind of content we wanted to publish to educating the campus community about our transition. Everyone knows that college kids (millennials) are one of the toughest groups to reach, so I made sure we have a marketing director who understood that struggle and was ready to get to work. We realize we are making this magazine for the campus community, but if they never hear about how we are, then they won’t pick it up. We are continually working on improving our social media following and using our website, wkutalisman.com, as a catalyst for the magazine.
What has been most surprising?
Charlotte: The most surprising thing was how well the WKU student body received our new product. We were fully distributed in less than two weeks. Students were praising our product on social media and bragging on our staff. That was a feeling I was used to during my time as a student when we handed out the yearbooks for free, but my student had not experienced that kind of reception. It is like the clouds have been lifted and we get to make something beautiful again without the gloom and doom of budget restrictions. Our staff also really enjoyed the process of magazine creation. They are free to create without the yearbook limitations so the magazine is trendier and more culturally relevant. Before, we were worried about the person picking the yearbook up off the shelf 50 years from now. Today, we can focus on the students who are walking the Hill every day and the culture that defines WKU today.
Kylee: I’m not saying this has been easy, but I am surprised by how smooth everything has gone so far. We chose a great printer, hired an amazing staff and produced a magazine that I am very proud of. There were definitely bumps we had to smooth out along the way, but Charlotte, the Talisman adviser, helped guide the process through every step and make sure everything was taken care of. I wasn’t sure what the Talisman transition was going to look like, and I had zero experience in publishing or producing a magazine, but with a talented staff of about 50 individuals and support from the university, I couldn’t imagine a better first issue.
If you could sum up this experience in six words, what would they be?
Charlotte: A refreshing facelift to the Talisman.
Kylee: Challenging, rewarding, tiring, learning, growing and leading.
As journalists around the country seek to cover the new administration and its policies, student journalists offer opinions on the effectiveness of the travel ban and its impact on college campuses. Here’s a sampling of what students are saying.
- Washington State University, The Daily Evergreen
- Rice University, The Rice Thresher
- Valencia College, Valencia Voice
- Colorado State University, The Rocky Mountain Collegian
- University of Minnesota, Minnesota Daily
- University of Alabama, The Crimson White
- University of Mississippi, The Reflector
- University of Louisiana-Lafayette, The Vermilion
- University of Florida, The Independent Florida Alligator
- Miami University, The Miami Student
- Illinois State University, Vidette Online
- University of Nevada-Reno, The Nevada Sagebrush
- Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, The Online Beacon
- Georgetown University, The Hoya
- Texas A&M, The Battalion
When the Clemson Tigers surprised the Alabama Crimson Tide by winning the college football National Championship, the staff of The Tiger surprised themselves by not only covering the game (before even being back on campus), but by producing a special edition in record turnaround time.
Most students were still on winter break, the game was in Tampa and funding was low. But the staff managed to send a photographer, coordinate social media coverage and was ready to roll when the football team pulled out the win.
Despite having a smaller staff than usual, Saavon Smalls, Tiger editor in chief, said he wasn’t worried.
“I had two big things in mind: what exactly should we cover and who could best cover it,” he said.
After the initial coverage proved popular, Smalls said the decision to produce a special edition was pretty easy.
“From the Sikes Sit-In, to Dabo’s comments on Colin Kaepernick, to our top 25 public university ranking, this past year has shown that we cover Clemson in both the good and bad,” he said. “So when we win our second ever National Championship, it’s too much of a historic moment not to document it.”
The turnaround for the edition was fast, and the advertising goal was higher than the staff was used to, $5,000 in 24 hours.
“I was stunned because this was a tall order regardless of the time frame to achieve it,” Lillian Poston, public relations consultant, said.
She said the staff had to think out of the box to try to meet the goal, but originally fell short.
“We immediately emailed our clients from the fall,” she said. “We also delivered thank you notes to our more constant clients. In the end we did not meet our goal but we did better than we expected considering the deadline.”
While they didn’t make their initial advertising goal, to cover expenses they decided to sell additional copies of the special edition that had a press run of 10,000 copies.
“We are selling the special edition to anyone who wants it that doesn’t currently go to Clemson University,” Franklin Fowler, marketing/sales director, said. “We have gotten plenty of requests and most of them buy more than one copy.”
The Tiger still provided free copies to the on-campus community, and handed the issue out at the victory parade.
“We allotted some for normal distribution, some for the parade and some for sell only, this allowed us to maintain tradition by offering the free copies as well as additional for purchase as keepsakes,” Poston said.
The sales and marketing teams had concerns about the quick turnaround and student interest, but said they felt they did well given all the constraints.
“The only criticism I have received is that we should have printed more copies because they disappeared from the stands almost instantly,” Poston said.
In addition to being incredibly popular, Smalls said the edition also shows the human element of Clemson.
“It shows that our school is complex and that [The Tiger] is always recording it,” Smalls said.
He said he was most proud of his staff for being “all in” even with all the extenuating circumstances they faced.
“It was easy from them to say ‘we only agreed to do online content, this is too much’ or ‘I don’t do sports, so I’m not of help,’ but they didn’t,” Smalls said. “They put 110 percent into this because they love this paper, this school and what we do.”
The championship brought a lot of good for the campus, but also for The Tiger.
“In the short run, students will be more excited about our products because the special edition was one of the best editions we have put out so far,” Fowler said. “In the long run, this will make students want to join our organizations and also create something special in the future.”
Smalls agrees the special edition impacted the staff beyond just coverage and revenue.
“I’ve been the new EIC for a few weeks now and I’ve been preaching that we should be a staff that takes our work seriously, recognizes that we’re all students, has fun together and creates a tight-knit community within itself,” he said. “I think that this issue was a great way to show that we’ve taken heed to that.”
For a look at some of the coverage Smalls and his team curated, check out these links.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday selected Neil Gorsuch to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated nearly one year ago by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
The story, written by Jessica Spitz and Aaron Holmes, details Gorsuch’s connection to student media. Gorsuch, who graduated from Columbia in 1988, was a columnist for the Spectator and founder of the satirical newspaper The Federalist.
The Columbia University library offers a detailed archive of the Spectator and plenty of written material from a college-aged future Supreme Court nominee.
What exactly will an interested reader find in the archives? Spectator writers Huber Gonzalez and Veronica Grace Taleon provided a recap in an article published today.
Meanwhile, The Federalist is celebrating it newfound claim to fame.
Editor’s note: This article was written by Justin Mattingly, the editor in chief of The Daily Orange, the independent student newspaper at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York. This is the third in a series showcasing student publications and how they’ve covered one of the most unique elections in United States history.
I turned to The Daily Orange’s managing editor, Alexa Diaz, just a few hours after we sent the paper to the press on Election Night. The high from such a thrilling newsroom experience was very much alive, and we discussed how we’d continue to cover one of the most controversial and intriguing elections in U.S. history.
Well, we thought, we could do a special edition. We talked to members of the news team, who, being the newsies they are, were completely on board. We ran it by our general manager, who was excited about the idea.
The Daily Orange hasn’t published on a Saturday in a number of years. We dropped our regular Friday edition in 2008 and haven’t published a non-sports guide on a weekend since. But the thought of trying something new was intriguing for all of us because we didn’t really know what to expect. Over the course of the weekend, though, six members of The D.O. staff took to D.C. and another three to New York City to extensively cover what everyone in the world was talking about.
The preparation for Inauguration Day was much different than Election Day. For the latter we were able to review old editions, talk to former editors and had an entire summer and semester to plan. Soon after the decision was made to do a special edition for the inauguration, our news team went into planning mode.
“Weirdly enough, my favorite part was all of the planning in the weeks leading up to the weekend,” said News Editor Michael Burke, who led operations in Syracuse. “The paper wouldn’t have turned out as well as it did without the preparation.”
We decided over Winter Break who would be going down to D.C. and to New York. The teams assembled were diverse in skill sets, some specializing in digital-driven reporting, others in coverage and visuals.
The D.C. crew left early Thursday morning and stayed with the family of our presentation director. While walking around the city that night, the team followed a protest to the Trump International Hotel, the first glimpse of what would prove to be a lively weekend.
Both the reporters in D.C. and New York had early mornings Friday, arriving in their respective downtowns around 4:30 a.m. The D.O. was not credentialed going into the weekend, but acquired a few passes and formal inauguration tickets the day before.
Most of the work around the time of the swearing in was done on social media, with a focus on attendees while the staff in Syracuse wrote of the speech. We started using live blogs last year and used one throughout the day to get the social media posts out to readers even more.
“There’s no simulation for an event of this magnitude. No matter how many classes you take, how many articles you read, or the amount of local protests you cover, the scale of this is something you simply can’t prepare for,” Gedetsis said. “The best part of covering it is knowing that I now have that working knowledge at my disposal.”
After things had died down, the D.C. team filed stories from the Center for Public Integrity newsroom. The Syracuse staff had been working hard on layout and was ready to go to press once the stories were edited and placed.
We sent the paper just after midnight. We shifted our delivery strategy for the special edition, delivering more copies out into the city of Syracuse than onto campus itself.
While the special edition paper came out Saturday, there was still work to be done.
The Women’s March on Washington, and the sister marches in Syracuse and New York, were stories of interest for our readers. We covered all three, with online stories through the weekend and print coverage in Monday’s paper. Thanks to the generosity of a D.O. alumna, we had an additional two staffers in D.C. for Saturday’s march, one reporter and a columnist.
“I talked to people of all different backgrounds — immigrants, fathers, foreign visitors, children — each with their own reason for coming out that day,” said Kathryn Krawczyk, a senior staff writer who was in New York City. “I loved learning their stories and working with a great team to figure out the best way to tell them.”
Reconvened in Syracuse on Sunday, everyone agreed: This weekend won’t be one we soon forget.
“Political opinions aside, this was undeniably a monumental weekend in American politics and because of that we were able to put together a historical newspaper,” said Burke, the news editor. “Regardless of what happens over the next four years, that edition of The Daily Orange will live on and so will all of the memories I made with an absurdly talented Daily Orange staff over that weekend.”
Many students who get into college media are looking to have their voices heard, and Gabe Fleck is certainly one of them. But what makes him different is the other way he gets his voice heard: through singing, songwriting and performing.
Gabe is the editor of Beaver’s Digest at Oregon State University, and an aspiring musician. Last spring he was scheduled to headline OSU’s Got Talent competition, and he was heavily featured in the marketing materials for the event. But his journalism side got to him, and instead he attended College Media Association’s Spring National College Media Convention in New York City.
While Gabe intends to pursue music after graduation, he feels he is making a difference in the media world, too, by encouraging other students to find and use their voices.
How did you get involved with OMN?
I started at OMN as a graphic designer designing page layouts and jumping on any opportunity to contribute to the magazine. I remained a graphic designer for the publication for two terms, Winter & Spring of 2015. Then in Fall 2015 I gained the position of Graphics Editor and held that through Spring term of 2016. I went out for Editor-in-Chief of the magazine in the late Spring term of 2016 and I have held the position ever since.
What do you feel your greatest accomplishment in college media has been?
My greatest accomplishment in college media has been the influence in which I am granted to have on my fellow peers. From leading my staff to producing a magazine that strives to challenge perspectives, I am present with opportunities to inspire many great minds on campus. It is a position that I try never to take for granted.
You were to be the headliner for a major campus singing event (OSU’s Got Talent), but you backed out so you could attend a college media convention. Why did you think that was so important?
I have no doubt that more music opportunities will present themselves in my post college career. That being stated, I don’t think there will be a time again when I had the chance to be at the heart of New York City learning the immense amount of applicable information
For me, the CMA convention represented the grandest of opportunities and gave me memories that will simply never be replaced.
What’s the one thing you wish you’d done in college that you haven’t done yet?
The regret list for college is not a long one for me. If I had to pick one thing I wish I would have done in college that I haven’t done yet, it would most likely be attending a soccer game.
What do you tell people who wonder why anyone would study or pursue a career in media nowadays?
I wonder why someone wouldn’t want to study or pursue a career in media today. As a society, we are at the most immediate, advanced stages of reporting and spreading news. I would hope that a majority of the young adult population has a voice and wants this voice to be heard. The best outlet for this passionate voice is the media. With contributions to media and the telling of honest stories, young adults from all backgrounds have the opportunity to share amazing stories. It is an indescribable feeling to know that you are making a slight difference in this world every day you got to work.
With all your different talents, what do you hope to do after graduation?
I hope to continue my pursuits at a sustainable music career that could provide a majority of my funds needed to live a comfortable life. To ensure that I don’t jump blindly into the entertainment business however I am graduating with a degree in Graphic Design as well and I could see myself working that as the “day job.”
In honor of College Media Matters’ founder Dan Reimold, what is your six-word memoir?
Be proud but never be content.
You can find more of Gabe’s music through the links below.
The Women’s March on Washington, combined with the more than 600 sister marches that took place across the United States on Saturday, is believed to be the largest day of protest in the country’s history.
College media outlets were out en masse covering these marches, from major cities such as Washington, Los Angeles and Denver to the smaller demonstrations in locations like Carbondale, Illinois.
While far from a complete listing, here’s a look at the coverage from the college media landscape.
“Activists fill Lexington for women’s march,” Kentucky Kernel, University of Kentucky
“Hundreds of thousands of women march in Washington following inauguration,” The Michigan Daily, University of Michigan
“UCLA students protest Trump at Los Angeles Women’s March,” Daily Bruin, UCLA
“Hopeful, defiant atmosphere pervades Women’s March,” The Miami Hurricane, University of Miami
“Stronger Together, We March On,” The Scarlet & Gray Free Press, UNLV
“Gallery: Women’s March bring demonstrators to Syracuse, New York City and Washington, D.C.,” The Daily Orange, Syracuse University
“Women’s March on Washington,” The News Record, University of Cincinnati
“Carbondale Women’s March draws hundreds in a show of equality, solidarity,” Daily Egyptian, Southern Illinois University
“Pittsburgh takes part in alternative inauguration events and sister marches,” The Pitt News, University of Pittsburgh
“VIDEO: Women’s March on Denver, aimed at Trump administration, draws over 100,000,” CU Independent, University of Colorado
“After the march, action,” The Daily Iowan, University of Iowa
” ‘Moving and beautiful’: UMD students join 500,000 for Women’s March on Washington,” The Diamondback, University of Maryland
“VIDEO: The March on Lansing,” The State News, Michigan State University
“Women’s March on Austin,” The Daily Texan, University of Texas
“Disrupting whiteness at the Women’s March on St. Louis,” Student Life, Washington University, St. Louis
“Lincoln women join in day of mass demonstration,” The Daily Nebraskan, University of Nebraska
“Women’s March in Helena,” Montana Kaimin, University of Montana
Last Friday, as much of the media world was covering the inauguration of the 45th president, Penn State’s Patti Hartranft was trying to clean out her office after 40 years of service to The Daily Collegian. In preparation of her retirement, Patti filled boxes of memorabilia and discussed the lessons she learned over her career.
A year after graduating from college, Patti moved to University Park and took a job as a production manager and typesetter. (Note to young folks: this meant she took the stories from students and the wire, putting them in the correct font and arranging them for publication). She worked her way through the system through operations manager until her last job, General Manager.
As you can imagine, Patti has seen a lot of change in her time at The Daily Collegian. She said she thinks the biggest change she has seen has been the introduction of the Internet and the deluge of information that has followed.
“Back in 2000 or so when media was exploding, students were suddenly deluged with so much information,” she said. “Their attention is drawn in 50 different directions. Never have we had to scream for students’ attention until now.”
Patti said that while this influx of technology has made many the job of the reporter easier in many ways, it also has posed new challenges for students entering the workforce.
“[The toughest thing these students will face] is just finding the jobs,” she said. “And having all the skills. It’s about doing everything. Live tweeting and all of that. They all have to have all the skills.”
The introduction of the internet has posed other challenges for The Daily Collegian, as it has for other newspapers, not just student ones.
“We have not been able to become digital first.” Patti said. “Our students are still tied to print. We had been trying to get to that point. We haven’t turned that corner yet.”
She said she thinks the print edition often gets in the way, though students will break stories online.
“I’m not sure all of our staff picks up the print paper,” she said. “We have to change the mindset. We need to get the thrill [of online first] to last.”
Over her 40 years at The Daily Collegian, Patti has seen the paper’s many crises, including 9/11, the Jerry Sandusky scandal and the passing of Joe Paterno. She said those things have stuck with her.
“We really did have to stop the presses when the coach and athletic director and president were fired [as fallout of the Sandusky investigation],” she said. “That happened around 9 or 10 at night. We decided we had to rework that front page.”
Additionally, Patti said the death of Joe Paterno was another crisis for the newsroom.
“Our online competitor announced it a day before he died,” she said. “Our editor wanted it confirmed [even though other outlets were running with the story]. To her credit she stuck by her story and that was a good thing. We hanged the press run to 35,000 copies, which was scary. But after publication, we ended up ordering 10,000 more.”
The post-9/11 edition order was only 30,000 copies, she said.
“Seems funny that we needed more when Paterno died,” she said.
After 40 years of educating and advising, Patti said the hardest thing about advising was learning to ask students the right questions and letting them draw their own conclusion. She said she hopes she taught students professionalism, integrity and credibility.
While she said she can’t pin down one favorite memory with The Daily Collegian, she will miss the fun of being in the newsroom.
“The times in the newsroom when the business manager is dancing on the desk for beating big quota, [I’ll miss those times], she said. “I’ve had a lot of good times. I can’t get it down to one moment.”
The first day of spring classes at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas brought with it good news for its student newspaper.
The advisory board for The Scarlett & Gray Free Press approved Tuesday morning a funding plan that would allow the newspaper to operate through the 2017 calendar year.
Under the plan, the Las Vegas Review-Journal would donate $40,000 and print the weekly publication for free beginning with its first edition of the spring semester next Monday, Jan. 23.
“The student newspaper at UNLV has always been an important resource for the Review-Journal and all other news media sources in the valley,” Review-Journal editor-in-chief Keith Moyer said in article published Jan. 10. “We felt it was important to help as we might in ensuring the newspaper’s doors remain open, until it can get itself on better financial footing.”
The agreement comes at a time when funding cuts threatened the student newspaper’s existence. The paper received $30,000 from the Student Life Funding Committee for this academic year, a sharp cut from the $86,500 it had received the previous year.
The staff started a fundraising campaign in November that raised $3,000.
Editor-in-Chief Bianca Cseke said her biggest concern initially was what, if any involvement the Review-Journal would have in the day-to-day operations of the newspaper. Under the agreement, the Review-Journal would have no involvement.
Moving forward, Cseke said the newspaper will be looking at ways to increase its revenue sources. Among the first steps has been the hiring of the paper’s first student fundraising director.
The Scarlett & Gray Free Press is starting its first semester under its new name. Cseke announced in November that the newspaper would change from The Rebel Yell, a name it has held in some form for more than 60 years, because of concerns over its confederate symbolism.
The name change became official at Tuesday’s advisory board meeting.
The State Hornet has won its fight to remain in the heart of the Sacramento State campus.
The State Hornet was one of several campus organizations that were forced to leave the University Union by the middle of January as part of an 18-to-24 month renovation project. Initially, the newspaper was asked to move to Folsom Hall, a 1.1-mile trip over U.S. Highway 50 and to the outskirts of campus. It was the only organization asked to make such a move.
Its newsroom will now be next to Mendocino Hall, which houses Sac State’s Department of Communication Studies and its journalism courses.
“This is, I think, a victory for The State Hornet,” said editor-in-chief Joel Boland. “It’s going to be great for us to have this space so close to the journalism building. To be central on campus is going to make it so much better to do our jobs as opposed to having no newsroom or a newsroom that’s a mile from campus.”
The State Hornet learned of its impending move to Folsom Hall early in the fall semester. It went public with news in an editorial published Nov. 15.
In that editorial, the newspaper outlined its reasons for opposing the move.
“In moving The State Hornet off campus, reporters will be limited in being able to respond to and report on breaking news. The 30-40 minute round trip alone will result in newsworthy situations being over by the time a reporter gets there, or the matter being ‘resolved’ by police without any eyewitness being available to us.”
Boland and faculty adviser Stu VanAirsdale both said The State Hornet would not move to Folsom Hall. The two led the way in seeking an alternative solution, an appeals process that went through the Department of Communication Studies, the College of Arts & Letters, and the Sac State’s president’s office.
“We definitely got the space because we fought hard to arrange an alternative, to find an alternative like (Del Norte Hall),” VanAirsdale said. “We enlisted support from a lot of folks on campus to help us find that space and they came through for us at the last minute. It’s not like we forced everyone’s hand. We were able to successfully build a campaign they were able to get behind. It’s hard to argue that (The State Hornet) should be anywhere but right here.”
According to Tuesday’s editorial, written by Boland, other possible locations included a temporary office trailer, a storage space located in a parking garage and an unused racquetball court.
Boland thanked many people for helping make the move possible, including Sac State president Robert Nelsen and his chief of Staff Lisa Cardoza.
“I’m very grateful,” he said. “I said it in the editorial, and I was very specific with my wording on this. I said I’m so grateful for the creativity and the hard work by the University … I think there was a lot of hard work to find us this space.”
There will be another move in the newspaper’s future, as it is scheduled to return to the University Union once the renovations are complete.
“We are really happy to have resolved this,” VanAirsdale said.
“I don’t know if it’s gratifying. It’s a little bittersweet. While we do have our home set for the foreseeable future, we will have to move again by all indications. I would love to be settled in one place.”
The volume of work and number of years that Dan dedicated to college media will occasionally give us the opportunity to look back. At the top headlines. At the big stories. At what Dan himself was writing about years ago.
Here’s such an example:
During this week in 2010, Dan posted, “Ten Student Newspapers Sporting the Most Facebook Fans.” The headline was self-explanatory, with The Daily Tar Heel leading the way with 5,984 fans.
As I was looking at the post Monday, I asked myself, “What would this list look like today?” So, I set to find out, with a couple of key changes. The Facebook “fan” has given way to the Facebook “like.” And let’s include online-only student media outlets.
So, with a new working headline, here are the “Ten Student Media Organizations Sporting the Most Facebook Likes.” You’ll notice there’s a new No. 1.
(Disclaimer: The Facebook likes are good as of Tuesday afternoon. For entertainment purposes only. Did I miss someone? Email, firstname.lastname@example.org.)
10.) Daily Bruin, University of California, Los Angeles, 17,548 likes
9.) The Michigan Daily, University of Michigan, 20,857 likes
8.) The Crimson White, University of Alabama, 21,789 likes
7.) Central Michigan Life, Central Michigan University, 24,810 likes
6.) Iowa State Daily, Iowa State University, 25,035 likes
5.) The Daily Collegian, Penn State University, 25,920 likes
4.) The Daily Tar Heel, University of North Carolina, 33,453 likes
3.) The Daily Californian, University of California, Berkeley, 34,530 likes
2.) The Harvard Crimson, Harvard University, 70,804 likes
1.) Onward State, Penn State University, 96,706 likes
David Simpson is the director of student media at Georgia Southern University.
Let’s start with my conclusions, because as will become obvious I am not depending on you to read this whole post. Here’s what I conclude about readership of our student newspaper:
- Our readers are scanning. Period.
- They are not looking for articles to read.
- They expect to learn enough simply by scanning.
- They are not in the market to read for any length of time.
- Their thought process is NOT this: “The headline, the photo and the pullout quote are interesting, so the article will be interesting.”
- Their process IS this: “I read the headline and (maybe) the pullout quote. Got it.”
- In short, they consume print the same way they consume social media on their phones.
And yet I remain determined to publish our student newspaper twice a week. Some of you will conclude that I am way off base about either the conclusions or the continuing value of print, so this may be the point where you say, “Got it,” and swipe. Farewell.
Still here? OK, let’s start with what brings me to “college students consume print like a phone.”
My colleague Samantha Reid and I taught a “Campus Journalism” first-year experience class in fall 2016. The 30 meetings of the class coincided with the 30 publication dates of our student newspaper, The George-Anne. The 23 (later 22) students had to bring in that morning’s edition and spend the first five minutes of class circling every headline, pull quote and paragraph that they read.
(This “circle what you read” survey is suggested by design guru Tim Harrower. And I’m indebted to our graduate assistant Chris Nwankwo for tallying up the circles into one master copy of each edition.)
We’ve done this survey sporadically in past years, often by taking one edition to a journalism class. The results from our first-year students are in line with those earlier surveys. But if you want to consider how much faith to put into our sample, here are details about our class.
- They’re first-year students, brand new to our campus.
- All but one of them voluntarily chose to be in a
“campus journalism” class. (They must take an FYE class, but they have
dozens and dozens of options.)
- They always had at least five minutes in class to flip
through the paper and circle stuff. (They generally needed less than five
Early in the semester, we might get 14 out of 20-23 students circling a particular headline, which is much higher than anything we had seen with upperclassmen. But after a few weeks, it settled down to a level I’ve seen before. And, also as I’ve seen before, most text articles had zero paragraphs circled. That’s right, not even the lead.
There were exceptions. For example, a major story about problems with campus safety alerts got some readers. But after turning page after page and looking for those circles, the pattern was clear:
- Readers scan headlines and some photos.
- If they are interested by the headline or photo, they will scan further to subheads or text boxes.
- And MAYBE they will read under a subhead.
It’s important to note they do NOT necessarily read beneath the first subhead. They are very comfortable browsing information without regard to the article narrative.
For example, we had a two-page spread recently about an alum who played women’s basketball here and now has transitioned to identify as male. Six students circled the headline. None circled any other text on the first page. But three circled several paragraphs of text under a subhead on the second page.
So I propose that when our readers turn to a page in print, it’s as if they’ve opened their social media app on their phone. What is visible on THIS SCREEN that is interesting? If nothing, then they’re scrolling away.
When a headline is worth reading, readers are in effect stopping their scroll. Now what other information about this topic is being presented on THIS SCREEN? Maybe they’re willing to scroll a little to see another photo and/or read some brief featured text in a box.
But what if there’s a link on the screen to take them to The New York Times or thegeorgeanne.com? What would induce them to CLICK ON THE LINK? It takes a lot. And I think that’s the analogy to a decision to start actually reading an “article” in print. How high is that bar? I would say (half joking), this high:
(Source unknown. Reverse image search unhelpful.)
Consider a George-Anne story headlined, “Stun guns and tasers allowed on Georgia college campuses.” The headline got 15 circles, which is very high. And a pullout quote at the bottom of the page got seven, which is still very good. And the actual article got zero. Not even the lead got one circle. So people were interested in the topic, but it was just too high a bar for them to trust that it would be worthwhile to read the article. (Bees, I tell you!)
Ditto this story, “Multiple reports of car break-ins in Statesboro.” The headline and pullquote each got nine circles. The story got zero circles.
On many other stories, I could see people browsing just about everything EXCEPT the article. We had a major criminal verdict in a student death. The opinion editor interviewed four students for reaction, presented their views in individual boxes with their photos, and began with a brief text article explaining the background and methodology. Seven of our sample class members circled the headline, and the four pullouts with individual students got 6-7 views each. The writer’s intro got three circles – good compared to other articles, but it probably would have done better if it had been formatted as bullet points instead of an article.
When I’ve seen text getting no circles in the past, my takeaway has been that we needed to do better at getting good photos and graphics and points of entry for stories. And those things still are true. But seeing no paragraphs of text circled even when many people circled the accompanying headlines, subheads and pullquotes leads me to believe that the bar is very, very high to get people to read something that looks like a straight article.
My intent here is not to say we should never write an article. It is to say that when we want people to read something of any length, we’re going to have to work a lot harder to get people to “click” on it and then to stay with it. I think that means clever treatment of type and an understanding of browsing behavior throughout the design. Yes, user experience.
This is by no means a new idea, but I think we need many more short pieces, organized well, in place of what are now “medium” articles. And then let’s devote serious time and attention to the few pieces that really deserve to be read at length.
By the way, we know this is the format millennials prefer. Nielsen tells us that millennials aren’t reading print newspapers, but they read print magazines at higher rates than Baby Boomers. Cosmo, Vogue and Rolling Stone are attracting millennial print readers. Pick up a copy. Does that magazine look like your student newspaper?
So this is where many student journalists will say, “This guy wants us to dumb down our newspaper.”
I submit Popular Science, circulation 1.2 million. I think it’s safe to say its readers are above average education and are pretty interested in the subject matter. (Most of them pay for it.) Certainly Popular Science readers would seem more likely to read whatever is offered than our average student newspaper reader. So Popular Science writers can just write an article, right?
The issue of Popular Science I scanned last week had exactly ONE conventional article. That was the cover story, which was LONG. Its first few pages were heavily designed, then the editors just draped the jump all over the back of the book. (I’m guessing they think almost nobody reads that far.)
Everything else was quick and to the point. Either the text guided the reader through an infographic, or it was a fairly short burst with a compelling photo, or the “article” was broken up in distinct, independently scannable pieces. For example:
I mentioned I’m still in favor our twice-a-week print schedule. The newspaper still makes a profit (advertising revenue less marginal cost of publishing), and I believe it reaches many students who would never consciously consume “campus news” via any other medium.
But I’m not here to tell you how all this should translate to your publication schedule, your audience and your staff. I’m here to challenge your assumptions about what your audience is reading and why it’s not reading more. And if you’ve read this long, I will show my gratitude by stopping.
Editor’s note: For many in college media, the end of the fall semester represents a break from the classroom and the newsroom. But for at least one editor in chief, December meant graduation and handing over the reins.
Kavahn Mansouri is the outgoing editor in chief of The Journal at Webster University in suburban St. Louis. During his time in college media, he has been the EIC of two newspapers, also leading the way for The Montage at St. Louis Community College – Meramec. He recently looked back on his time spent as a student journalist.
The curtain has closed.
I went to the hastily thrown together December graduation ceremony, I passed the editor in chief reins to my managing editor and put my last issue of The Journal to bed. After six and a half years (sigh) my time as a student journalist has come to a close.
It has been, by far, the best era of my life.
Work worth doing. I’ve always thought that journalism, and specifically student journalism, is just that. Something we can all get behind. Something that makes for the best and strangest teams. Something that takes the data miners, sports jocks, theatre kids, bookworms, nerds, perfect students, awful students (ahem), video gamers, illustrators, hipsters and whatever other cliche you can imagine, and throws them into a small room with a dozen some odd computers and demands they “get to work.”
That is what student journalism is to me. Doing work worth doing with a band of ragtag misfits in a small room, putting out something we could be proud of. It, to me, was also the only reason I stumbled through college and something that any inquisitive mind should experience.
I’ve never been good at anything but being a reporter. Sometimes, I even struggle with that. But I think, even in the smallest of newsrooms, you would be hard pressed to spend six and a half years working at a craft and not come out at least somewhat skilled at your profession.
And yes, I am aware that six and a half years is a long time to be in college. But I did it, and I spent that entire time being a student journalist and working in two newsrooms. It made this long run at college the best years of my life.
In those newsrooms I reported crazier stories than I thought I could, fell in love (twice), mourned, celebrated victories and learned in defeat, grew, took steps back, quit, made a comeback, mentored, made best friends, beat the competition and lost to the competition, had the best times of my life and the worst times of my life and became a better person from all of it. That is just a short list. I couldn’t, and probably shouldn’t, go on. But I guess what I’m getting at is that being in a newsroom made college not just good, but great. It also helped me understand why we do this.
We’re at this strange point in American history. We’ve all heard the same back-and-forth about how this is the press’ time to reclaim the Fourth Estate and rise up. I won’t repeat that because I know you read. You’re here, aren’t you? But as I step out of this newsroom for one of the last times and start thinking about what’s next for me, I’ll think of Ed Bishop, our sharp tongued critiquer who tragically died this year. His words are still ringing in my ears. “Journalism is a calling, not a career.” I hope I never forget that.
I hope I never forget this is a civic duty, or that we should all aspire to be great, not just good, or that the best stories are the ones you don’t see right away, or to “cover the sh*t out of it,” and to know when to drown my darlings (kill your best stuff). I’ve had some of the best times of my life in this newsroom, and a few of the worst. But there isn’t a second that I spent working as a student journalist that wasn’t work worth doing.
We’re different. We’re not just students, we’re student journalists. We feel this calling and we have a duty. We report the news to the best of our effort and we get little thanks for the hard work we do. I’ll truly miss knowing more about Webster University finances than any undergraduate student on campus, and I’ll somehow miss putting a paper out at 3 a.m. on a Wednesday morning and then dragging myself (or at least attempting ) to an 8 a.m. class a few hours later.
So, let it be stated for the record that the best college experience is spending as many evenings as you can in a small newsroom, eating fast food, drinking coffee, writing copy and laying out pages.
Complaining about editors and writers? You can fit that anywhere in between.
P.S. And to Larry: There is no better mentor, friend or carrot and stick master than you. I am a better journalist and person because of the mentor you were for me. Never stop challenging the future Kavahns.
With the college football bowl season set to kick off Saturday, the big story is whether the University of Minnesota will take the field against Washington State in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 27 in San Diego.
The football team announced Thursday that it would boycott all activities and practices after 10 players were suspended earlier this week over an alleged sexual assault back in September.
The Minnesota Daily, the student-led media, has been covering the developing story.
Assistant sports editor Mike Hendrickson wrote the initial story about the suspensions, published a detailed timeline of events leading up to this week and has been providing updates via social media.
Follow the Minnesota Daily on Twitter as this story develops.