Why be a part of something that gives you constant criticism and almost never get positive feedback from your readers?
I started working for Doane Student Media my freshman year as a photographer and eventually was promoted to Art Editor for The Owl where I sat comfortably in that position until this past spring.
With every other person on staff graduating, I was left as the only one on staff.
I was asked to be editor-in-chief.
Why me? Why choose a person who has never taken a journalism class in her life, much less never written an article?
“Because you are the only one left,” was pretty much the response I got.
But, being editor-in-chief has opened my eyes to a whole new world.
With this title, I got a job working as a reporter for The Crete News, where I actually started writing articles to be published weekly. This gave me the experience and confidence that I needed.
Once school started up in August, I realized how tough it is to run a paper. I had to hire people, be organized, motivate people and keep up with the world going on around me.
Last semester was tough for the Owl staff, as many of them would agree.
I have a staff (an incredible staff if you ask me) of students who choose to do this.
My staff is made up of so many unique individuals from theater majors, to athletes, to a vet tech student. One is even a student teacher this semester.
None of us have to work our butts off to think of stories, conduct interviews, write articles and stay late to put the paper together on Tuesday nights (sometimes until 3 to 4 a.m.). We choose to.
Because no matter the difficulty, it is important to us.
We have had more critiques this semester - excluding our weekly one from our adviser - than I can count.
Headlines spelled wrong, names spelled wrong, grammatical issues, page design problems, topics that we covered. You name it, I’ve probably heard someone complain about it.
Because people don’t understand.
Try this: research three to four new topics every week, talk to three or four sources (who a lot of times don’t respond) for each, get your own photos of the topic and write a 400-600 word article about each topic. Start on Monday evening and turn them in by Sunday night.
Then let me tell you that “you need to correct all these errors in it. Also it needs a better lede. You need to restructure this (in a way you’re not used to writing). This photo doesn’t go with this article.”
My staffers hear this from me weekly, to prevent backlash from readers.
Now try doing that for 13 weeks in a row, while maintaining your other obligations that you have (ex. homework, practices, games, work, etc.).
Also, you may get backlash on your article still.
We report on the good and bad.
The amount of times that I have heard things like, “Why can’t you report more good things?” or “This headline sounds too negative,” is uncountable.
Our job isn’t to promote Doane to anyone. Our job is to inform people who are here about what is going on around them even the negatives.
Those are the things going on and we have a responsibility to share them.
We get frustrated, tired and stressed, but at the end of the day, we are a family.
Because we are a collective group who cares about the students, faculty, staff and the future of Doane and wants to make sure that they are informed.