In all honesty, I was inspired to become a journalist after binge-watching “Gilmore Girls” with my mom one summer. The thought of traveling the world reporting stories and scurrying around a hectic newsroom gave me a thrill. That being said, I have always loved writing. As a kid, I would draft mini creative novels and make my teachers read them and give me feedback — like the nerd I have always been.
High school assignments might have squashed my desire to be a writer. While a bookworm might love to write a thirty-page paper on the meaning behind the green light in The Great Gatsby or a five-paragraph essay trying to persuade their teacher that school lunches should be a little healthier, I needed a creative outlet to express my passion. It wasn’t until I attended my college’s involvement fair and sought out the table with the words “school newspaper” displaced in front that I found my place on campus. I wanted to join.
Being a part of that team gave me an experience like no other. Without knowing a single person on that team of reporters, I put myself out there and took the life of a journalist and never looked back. My peers taught me everything I know about how to put together a story with integrity and quality. Not only do I type ten times faster after joining, but I gained skills and relationships that I will hold onto past graduation. Continue reading for ten reasons why you should consider reporting for your college’s newspaper.
01. Discover your love for writing
Without the restrictions of your professor’s boring assignments, writing can become your favorite activity. Organizing the millions of thoughts and ideas that pop into your head throughout an experience and laying it out on paper is satisfying. The creativity and passion behind the articles written by journalists every day are real and inspiring. It might just be exactly what you have been looking for.
As a member of your university’s newspaper, you have the freedom to write about what you really want to write about. You decide what pitches you want to snag and you go out and do the damn thing.
Have you ever watched, “Sex and the City?” Well, I have –– maybe about a million times. If you haven’t, Carrie Bradshaw is a writer and wrote for a weekly column in The New York Star. I was inspired by this character and started a column for my newspaper, “Student and the City,” in which I explore different social concepts within the younger generations regarding relationships, lifestyle, social media, and more. Embrace your inner Blair Waldorf or Rori Gilmore and discover your love for reporting. The sky is the limit.
02. Get a taste of real-world reporting
Although student journalists are often looked down upon as unprofessional or inadequate, they are doing the same job professionals are doing in the field. As a reporter for your college’s newspaper, you will be interviewing, attending events on and off-campus, taking photos, and writing full-length articles that are then published for the world to see. Student journalism will give you the hands-on learning experience that your classes can’t provide. Joining can help you decide if this is the career for you.
03. Learn how to talk to strangers
At first, interviews can be the most nerve-wracking thing you have ever done. When covering a story, you are expected to reach out to random people on the internet or walk up to strangers at events and start a conversation. Getting quotes for a story is essential and important for the credibility and accuracy of your reporting.
The first time I had to interview a stranger was at a book talk at a local library. As I felt my face turn red and my stomach drop to the floor, I put one foot in front of the other and asked an attendee, “What did you think of the talk?” as I stumbled over my words.
In a society where we are all protected behind our phone screens, you don’t realize how difficult it can be to approach a person you don’t know. I credit my ability to talk to new people to my work with my school’s newspaper and overcame my shyness because of it.
04. Go places you never would have thought of going
The infamous “press pass” is a superpower you probably never knew about. Representing a publication sometimes means you get a free backstage ticket to government events, sports games, professional panels, and even concerts.
Article assignments will make you attend events on campus you would never even consider if you didn’t need to write about it. One time, I was assigned to cover a fashion show hosted by a collaboration of all the cultural groups on campus. This happened to be one of the best experiences during my time in college. Seize every opportunity as a reporter and see where it can take you.
05. Meet some really cool people
While you will go to some awesome places, at the same time you will also get the chance to meet some extraordinary people. “Hi, my name is…and I am a reporter for…” might just score you a conversation with a big political figure, your favorite basketball player, or an artist touring in your city that weekend.
While you may talk to some famous people, you will also get the opportunity to hear the stories of incredible humans firsthand. There are people on your campus and beyond who are doing really cool things that you will then share with your readers. Where else do you get this opportunity?
Throughout my college experience, I covered events with remarkable guest speakers, such as Keke Palmer and Ibram X. Kendi. I spoke with a teacher who was a volunteer and employee at every Olympic and most Paralympic Games since 1996. I interviewed well-known artists who painted gigantic murals across my city and influential activists who fought for workplace equality in the “9to5” Women’s Liberation Movement in the early 1970s. I met friends in different clubs as I featured their work, and learned about all different cultures on campus. I would have never had the opportunity if I didn’t take the leap and join the newspaper.
06. Writing is a skill you will use in any career field
Even if journalism isn’t the path for you, joining your school newspaper is still something to consider. Your teammates and advisors will be able to give you personal feedback for your writing and teach you how to improve. These skills can be applied to almost any career you would like to pursue after graduation.
You don’t need previous journalism experience to join. I knew nothing about reporting before the first pitch meeting at my school. The editorial team held my hand as I grew as a writer and guided me to where I am now.
Having “student reporter” on your resume will look great to future employers. Saying you were a part of your school’s newspaper shows that you are dedicated, outgoing, knowledgeable, and talented in your verbal skills. It will make you stand out from other applicants. Grow as a student and a writer by taking part in a club like this and see your future look a little brighter.
07. It will help you get involved
It can be easy to feel lost on campus. Transitioning from the comfort of high school and what you know to a new place, new people, and a new routine can be overwhelming. Every alumni’s first tip of advice to incoming college freshmen is always, “Get involved.”
Joining clubs, performance groups, and sports teams adds to your experience, gives you something to do between classes, and introduces you to other students. When you’re not a dancer or a football player, it can be difficult to find your space on campus. Anyone can write and most people love writing, even if they don’t know it yet. Your school’s newspaper might be your place in college.
I actually didn’t take part in my paper until my sophomore year. I had a really difficult time putting myself out there my first couple of semesters. I had a few friends but didn’t leave my dorm often when I was not going to class. I was even considering transferring to a different university –– why would I stay when I don’t feel at home here? The newspaper made me never want to leave. The newsroom was my place, the staff were my people, and the city was the setting for all the memories I was going to make and the stories I was going to write.
08. Find some hard-working best friends
It is not surprising you will be close with the people you are crammed with in the same small newsroom. Putting out a newspaper is a collaborative effort. You need your peers to bounce ideas off of, find contacts for stories, pitch article topics, and everything in between.
Late-night pizza orders and last-minute photo shoots will guarantee a bond with students who have similar interests as you. If they are a student journalist like you, they are also hard-working and passionate because that’s what it takes in this field. This means building a strong network that will last a lifetime.
09. Learn how to see the small details
With some practice, you will start seeing your everyday experiences through the lens of a reporter. Through the process of covering an event, you train yourself to identify all the important details that you would then include in your article. Suddenly, you recognize facial expressions, you remember the words people are saying around you, and you pay attention to the environment everything took place in. After joining your university’s newspaper, you will start to see the world differently and truly appreciate the small things.
10. Amplify the voices of others
The art of story-telling can be incredibly meaningful. As a reporter, you can be a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves. You can amplify the words of others on campus and report on important matters.
Interviewing different clubs and organizations were always my favorite stories to write. Hearing the purpose behind their mission and seeing the bond between the members was heartwarming to share with a larger audience. Watching the excitement in the eyes of a student author who just published their first book or a volunteer who just raised money for a cause they are passionate about drives me to keep reporting and never stop.
Being a part of a newspaper means you have the platform to reach an audience of people with ideas, news, and topics they should know about. Be the person who informs your peers and contributes to your community on campus.
I joined my school newspaper in hopes to find my passion. I was lucky enough to find great friends, extraordinary places, and lasting connections too. Journalism is powerful and broad. No matter who you are, you may just find your place in this field. College is the time to experiment with new things, meet new people, and learn what you love to do. Have you considered joining your school’s newspaper? It might be the best decision you ever made as a student.
Featured image by @emsoen.