Shout-out to the intercession staff here at Spinnaker for helping me decide on this week’s topic. They reminded me that the work we do is real. One of the most frustrating aspects of being a young adult in any capacity is that your peers and elders looking at you as someone who is still learning and who should be treated differently. Apply that to your opinion on politics, current events, or anything. So where does that come into student journalism? “Oh, it’s just the campus paper,” or “Oh, it’s just the campus TV station,” or whatever your medium is, it seems that people take these outlets less seriously.
Across the country, classes are starting up for the Fall term. What does that mean for our media outlets? Time for some “noobs.” That’s right, get excited to teach that Freshman AP style and then confuse the heck out of them with your campus’s style sheet.
One of the biggest issues we face when we recruit our new aspiring reporters is breaking them out of their shell and getting them to ask the tough questions, but even more so is educating them on why we don’t just report the good things happening at the University of (your school here). “But, we’re students, we’ve got to be proud of our campus and show people how great it is!” This is the point where that 5th year senior editor just wants to scream “THIS IS REAL JOURNALISM.”
Which brings me to the point: Sure, we don’t have the multi-million dollar budget of major news outlets or the millions of viewers that budget gets them, but the stories we report are just as real and just as important—sometimes more. Sure you’re a student, but you’re also a journalist.
I believe the most important thing to ingrain in your new staff’s brains on their orientation day is that they’re not “student journalists,” they’re journalists. The credentials they wear are just as valid as the guy from your local NBC affiliate, and the work they will be doing is just as real. So tell them that they can walk into their University President’s office and ask those tough questions, and not to back down. Show them your notes from NSEMC and make sure they see that there is no distinguishing between “student news” and “news.” Tell them their pen is just as powerful as a senior white house reporter’s. Inspire them to seek the truth under the tradition of your respective campus, and report it with the same credence as they know their own name.
We are the future of those big network names, and the work you do today with the rest of the inspired students in your newsroom is what is going to shape the future of our industry.