With applications for our school paper now open and JEA being next week, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on my experience being on staff at my school paper, and more importantly, what it’s been like to be a journalist. When our adviser and my English teacher said at the beginning of the year and now with applications that “Journalism is really cool,” I kind of thought he was gassing it up. But no. He was completely right, and in many ways, did not even express how amazing being a journalist really is.
I was talking to two friends yesterday, who go to private school, and they said their school paper was heavily censored and they were not allowed to publish anything political or threatening to the administration. Thankfully, by going to a public school, our paper has the majority of our First Amendment rights available to publish nearly anything we want. This has led us to pursue stories ranging from school segregation, to the presidential election, all without any censorship.
Being a journalist has meant pursuing stories that you may not want to go out and pursue, but knowing it is the right thing to do to pursue it. There are also moments where you want to publish a story or information that will not fit in an article, yet you know that it is something the school needs to hear. These daily conversations in our class brings all of us together and pushes all of us to be better journalists.
Through my experience as a journalist, I’ve been pushed to meet new people, forging new relationships I could not have ever anticipated. Fostering relationships with our administration have gotten not only our paper important information to publish, but has given me the opportunity to learn from those who are in charge and get a better understanding of how our school works. Whether it is pursuing a school safety article or researching on the amount of people who vape at our school, creating channels of communication that are respectful and productive for both sides have been extremely helpful for our school. Our principal also reads this blog sometimes too, so I want to say to you thanks for reading!
I’ve hit some walls this year though. There was one story for a video that I could not pursue because my editor and I could not find a conclusive angle, and it hurt to not continue because I really believed that this story could have been amazing. I put in a lot of time, but we just decided to move on. There are moments also where you cannot seem to figure out an angle, or the purpose of writing a particular article, and that is frustrating too.
But that is where I believe the most important people I’ve got to know this year come in to support me: my fellow staff members. Editors, staff writers, fellow videographers have all helped me so much to hammer out how to get through those challenges. These people have been there helping edit late at night, in coffee shops, online, and during our literal “latenights” (where our editors lay out the paper), all to ensure that I can succeed to the best of my ability. Those countless hours I’ve spent working with this community has gotten me to forge true friendships that I had not known could have existed when I started in August. It is these people who have helped me become the journalist I am proud to be.
So, to anyone who is considering applying for our paper this year, I want to let you know that this experience changed my life. I truly could not have ever thought that after not getting accepted to my school paper last year that I would receive the privilege to be a managing editor. Let me know if you want any feedback on your application, and I would love to support anyone I can who wants to give journalism a chance. And if you are not from the same school, I encourage anyone who wants to pursue journalism to post here, on Medium, and share your stories as I do every week. Maybe it could change your live too.