Tag Archives: The Collegian

A Journalism Student’s Thankful List (2014)

Screen Shot 2014-11-27 at 3.00.56 PMIt’s a miracle guys! We made it another year, and, more importantly, I remembered to keep up my “traditional Thanksgiving blog post.” Yes, I know this is only the second one, but still, given my memory, it’s a reason to celebrate!  Anyway, last year, my list was all about people, and no matter where I go in journalism, I will always be indebted to the people who have played a role in my “journey to journalism.” But this year’s list is going to be focused more on the things that challenged me.

Technology. The world of social media has definitely challenged this analytical brain. I’ve written quite a few posts about my experience with the media and technology (glitches and all). My rants about technology aside, I am so thankful for the way that it connects people around the world. A couple months ago, I had to make a really tough decision to transfer from my university. Knowing that I could keep in touch with my friends and mentors through social media, texting, Skyping, etc. made that transition a lot easier on me.

Houston Baptist University. My time at HBU, especially as EIC of The Collegian, has stretched me and challenged me in more ways than I could’ve imagined. From having to deal with a not-so-pleasant side of my school’s administration, to “being censored,” to deadlines, to classes, every single one of my experiences at HBU have played a vital role in developing who I have become today. The challenges from my time at HBU did not always come through obstacles and trials. In fact, some of the best challenges came from professors who cared enough about students to help them realize their full potential. Looking back, I realize that both the fun challenges and the “not-so-fun challenges” were equally valuable in their own way. I am just so thankful for my time spent there. Wherever I go, HBU will always be my launching pad – the place where it all began.

Change. Even as I’m typing this, I keep asking myself, “Really? Am I really thankful for change?” And the answer, even though it may be through gritted teeth, is a resounding YES. Change is inevitable, and boy was this year marked with change for me. In the span of a week, I transferred universities, changed majors, and moved states. I’m not going to lie. It was hard, and sometimes still is. However, today I can say I am thankful for change because it opens new doors and brings about opportunities I would’ve never come across if I stayed in the same place forever. Whether it is willingly or reluctantly, we all experience change. We can’t avoid it, but what we can do is decide how we respond to it. I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t always respond well to change; however, I do know that a change in circumstances isn’t necessarily the end. In fact, it almost always proves itself to be a new beginning in disguise.

My challenge to you today is to find at least one challenge to be thankful for. It’s easy (and necessary) to rejoice about the great moments, but let’s not overlook the role that trials and obstacles play in shaping and impacting our lives. Feel free to share below; I’d love to hear how you are thankful for your challenges!

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It Takes a Village to… Run a Paper

While the beginning of this semester was filled with unexpected changes, there was one major change that I had all summer to prepare for — no longer being editor-in-chief of my university’s newspaper. Now, when I say that I “prepared for” leaving this position, I really mean I had a lot of time to reflect over my experience.

Little did I know that when I joined The Collegian, I would not only gain journalistic experience, but I would also learn many life lessons along the way. And to keep it exciting and interesting, a majority of these lessons came out of the most peculiar sources, from rotten pumpkins to secret menus and everything in between.

Of all the lessons that I’ve learned from my time at The Collegian, there is one lesson that surpasses them all: You can’t do it alone. Both in life, and definitely in a newspaper or magazine or whatever you’re trying to produce, it all won’t happen without a team.The moments I tried to do everything on my own, I found myself burnt out and stressed. Thankfully, I was blessed with a loyal team, or rather, family, who kept me sane and made the stressful times a little more enjoyable by either lightening the mood with some random outburst of song and Russian accents or lightening my load by being so ready and willing to help wherever needed.

(Most of) the people behind the paper. This was taken in Austin when we took a staff trip to attend the 2014 ISOJ conference.

(Most of) the people behind the paper. This was taken in Austin when we took a staff trip to attend the 2014 ISOJ conference.

Looking back, I know that, without a doubt, the biggest take away I got out of my time as editor-in-chief was realizing that I can’t produce a paper by myself. I know, that sounds like it should’ve been obvious, but in the midst of all that is deadlines and breaking news, it is easy to forget how much I needed and relied on my fellow editors and writers. I don’t think I expressed my gratitude enough while I was editor-in-chief, but these people really made my experience what it was.

Thank you, Collegian family!


Nothing But the… Lessons.

ImageLast week was tough. To sum up the major things: my opinion editor/executive managing editor told me she wouldn’t be able to continue working for the paper after spring break, the company that prints my school’s newspapers is shutting down next month, the shipment of the right paper wasn’t in on time for publication so we had to use a mix of two different papers for this issue, I found out my school is not going to continue the journalism major, and I stayed in the office working until 2 a.m. on deadline for our first 16 page issue of the semester. Okay, so that wasn’t summing it up, and in the end, all those things worked themselves out (and I’m still alive). Although I wouldn’t willingly relive that week, I gained a lot of valuable lessons through those experiences. Here are a few. 

Censorship = A Journalist’s Worst Nightmare: I kind of hinted at this in my last post, but I ran into an issue at my university that taught me that I am not exactly free to publish everything. It was a bit frustrating trying to understand and work with people who are above me who say they have the school’s best in mind but inadvertently make it more difficult for the editor in chief of the school paper  (*cough* me *cough*) to keep students updated. That whole experience though will be something that I will never forget and it made me see that reporting news is a lot more complicated than what it seems on the surface. There are obviously those things that you can’t publish due to legal reasons, but there are also stories that may do more harm than good, so do you still publish it? 

Don’t Report When You’re Angry: Thankfully, I didn’t have to learn this lesson the hard way, but going off of the previous lesson, there were a lot of things that I said in the heat of the moment that I am thankful I did not publish. Especially when there’s an issue that is close to you, give it some time before deciding if and how you’re going to write about it. Notice this blog post didn’t come until a full week later, I don’t even want to think about what I would’ve posted if I wrote this last week.

Focus. Focus. Focus!: There is way too much to cover to get so caught up in the little issues. I learned that I not only have to be intentional with my time, but also with my thoughts. There are so many times when I spend a ridiculous amount of time just brainstorming a bunch of different story ideas, but never have the time to see them through. Brainstorming is good, but there comes a time where you just have to pick one thing, cut your losses, and run with it. 

Expect the Unexpected:  Going into last week, I did not expect that I would need to consider finding a new printer and an executive managing editor (and I don’t know if you understand how much my executive managing editor means to me…she keeps me sane during deadlines!). I’m pretty sure I mentioned this before, and I assure you, I will mention this again, but the job description of editor in chief/journalism student grows bigger and bigger every day. I did not expect to have to deal with so much budget, financial, crises management, business issues, but it’s teaching me a lot.

News Goes On…and So Does Life: Despite whatever unexpected event or crises comes up, new news to report is being made every second. Even if I miss one opportunity or breaking story, there is always going to be another story to cover. That does not take away the disappointment that comes with a lost story, but it does give you what it takes to move on to the next story.  

 


What is the Purpose of a Journalist? pt. 2

unnamedIn part 1, I talked about the challenges that come with journalism being both a business and a service. However, in this post, I want to key in on the service aspect of journalism. Something that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is who do I serve? Yes, the news media should exist to inform the public, but when you really think about it, there at least two different ways to approach this “service” aspect of journalism.

Currently, as the editor in chief of my university’s newspaper, I’ve been faced with the challenge of determining who the school’s publication exists to serve – the students or the administration? As a newspaper, especially of a school, you represent something whether it be your organization, cause or country. However, you also have a responsibility to keep your audience informed whether the news about what you represent is positive or negative; otherwise, you walk the fine line of being biased. The dilemma I have found myself facing quite frequently is wanting to keep students informed while at the same time respecting my school’s reputation.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I really love my school and I believe it has so much to offer. There is definitely a lot of good news to cover, but when things come up that concern students, I would like to be able to give them the information they want to know. After all, isn’t that what a newspaper is for? Even if the article addresses a “problem” in the school, I believe being transparent and maintaining open communication with students is more advantageous than only covering the great victories, improvements and on-campus conferences. If there is nothing being released from the administration or people who are involved in the issue, students will eventually start filling in the gaps on their own whether it’s with facts or with rumors. That’s why I think there are definitely pros to publishing “bad news” (by “bad” I’m referring to the topic, not the quality… just wanted to clarify that).

As a student and an editor in chief, I definitely want to respect my school and highlight all our accomplishes. I want our newspaper to be a great representation of the university, but does that mean we can’t publish stories that address areas of improvement or weaknesses in our school as well? Isn’t it biased to only publish good news? How do you respectfully publish “bad news”? Thoughts?


Roadblock: InDesign, Stress, and Anticipation – Oh My!

Yesterday was the day before the publication of my first issue as editor-in-chief of The Collegian (my university’s newspaper), and I basically spent all my time in the office working with InDesign to reformat everything before emailing the pages to the printer. Let me just say that my experience with InDesign so far has not been a positive one and even though our paper probably wouldn’t exist without it, I’ll be honest, there are times when I loathe the person who invented it – okay, maybe not loathe, but you get the point.

The scary part of looking at a paper right before you email it in is that you could mess up weeks worth of work with one click of a button. Also, you get really picky about the layout and begin zooming in on the pages to make sure every little line and box and column fits in its place. The morning before I sent in the issue to be printed, I realized that something had happened to the format of the papers and they were a little outside of the lines, meaning that there might’ve been a chance that some of the pages would’ve been cut off when they were printed.

Anyway, needless to say, I was a bit stressed out but the paper was sent in on time and anxiety took the place of the stress. In fact, right now, I am sitting in the office waiting the arrival of the newspapers… not to mention the papers were supposed to be here 20 minutes ago and it looks like one of our page numbers were wrong (which was probably my fault). Oh, the life of a student journalist.


New Role. New Chapter.

For some reason, I feel like the changes in between each semester get bigger and more drastic as my time in college progresses. A week ago, I took my last final and said “goodbye” to my third semester at Houston Baptist University, and said “hello” to the biggest journalistic opportunity I’ve had since I went to WJMC. Starting next semester, I will take on my new position as editor-in-chief of The Collegian (my university’s newspaper)!

This was definitely something that came out of the blue. I can definitely say that going into this past semester, I had no idea or even intent on becoming the editor-in-chief any time soon.

While I’m definitely excited about this position, I’m also scared…to death. Now I will have to pay closer attention to the way pages are formatted and watch out for those minor, seemingly trivial errors. For example, whether or not the way I wrote “editor-in-chief” in this post is AP Style (it probably isn’t).

My first picture as a "contributing writer" for The Collegian, a year and a half ago. I was so excited just to have this notebook (it made me feel "official").

My first picture as a “contributing writer” for The Collegian, a year and a half ago. I was so excited just to have this notebook (it made me feel “official”).

As I begin to research and look at other top ranked college newspapers, I realize that there is so much one can do, but I can’t do it all. As with most big changes in life, I’ll just have to take a deep breath and take it one step at a time. I know this sounds like I’m completely terrified of this new role (and to some extent, I am) but I am also extremely grateful. Like I said earlier, this wasn’t even something that I’d dare to dream about, yet I’ve been blessed with this amazing experience of a lifetime. That said, I know some way, somehow, I will survive (oh, and it definitely helps that my fellow editors are really supportive and fun to work with!) So, buckle in cause, next year, this journey to journalism is going to get bumpy.