“Hi, my name is _______. I will now proceed to pry into your personal opinions and experiences, which I will then print and publish for the whole world to see.”
If you had told me a year ago that I would be saying this to total strangers on a weekly basis, I wouldn’t have believed you. But, as it stands, that’s my job.
Okay, let me rephrase that. On a weekly basis, I say something more like, “Hi, my name is Becca, and I’m a writer with the Corsair newspaper. I’m writing an article on _____. Would you mind if I asked you a couple questions?”
Last fall, a few weeks after the semester began, I got a call from the editor of the school newspaper, asking if I would be interested in joining the newspaper staff as a writer. After attending the staff meeting, I accepted, and having been writing for them ever since. I started small, covering small events, and have expanded to opinion pieces, play reviews, and features.
In retrospect, I’ve realized just how much working for the newspaper (the Corsair) has taught me.
It’s been really fun and rewarding at times (covering interesting events, seeing my articles in print for the first time), as frustrating as any other job at times (losing sleep trying to meet deadlines, difficult assignments), and overall one of the best things that’s happened to me the past year.
Even after 7 months of working there, I still don’t enjoy the approaching-strangers part, taking pictures for my own stories, or continuing to put my best effort into difficult assignments. But it’s created in me an accountability I never had before; the responsibility that “This is my job. People expect me to be professional and know what I’m doing = that’s what I need to do.”
So, as my time at the Corsair closes, with the end of the semester, here are the 5 greatest things the experience has taught me (and the 5 greatest reasons to look into working for a small newspaper)
1.) Breaking the comfort zone
Classic me; my most important point is about the comfort zone.
But it’s true. The job gives you a paid responsibility to walk up to strangers, introduce youself, and ask them questions, all without being embarrassed about what you’re doing. It’s a risk, because, though most people will gladly talk to you, others awkwardly try to dodge questions, obviously too shy to talk to someone from a newspaper. (Honestly, sometimes I feel just as embarrassed as they do!)
2.) Making connections
You take a job as a newspaper writer, and suddenly you have a reason to talk to important people.
Ok— depending on your definition of important. At least, important within the sphere of the newspaper. When you put on that press pass, you suddenly have a pass to meet people, form relationships, and become a face they’ll recognize in the future.
I’ve talked to SGA members, teachers/faculty, representatives from medical organizations, musicians, entertainers, and even the president of the college. When I report on SGA- sponsored events, the SGA president recognizes me (probably thinking “Oh, great, here comes that Corsair-person again, wanting to interview me.”).
One of my editors even got to interview the band Switchfoot last summer, when they came to Pensacola to play at the fair.
3.) Observing Opportunities
You’re no longer able to see a poster announcing an event without wondering who is covering the story. I’ve learned to scan for announcements, and mentally file away the information for the next staff meeting. Also, the job has taught me to scan people. When covering an event, I’ve learned to analyze which people in the crowd around me would be best to approach to interview.
4.) Gaining Knowledge
In writing articles on people, programs, and events, you’re not just benefiting readers; you’re gaining valuable knowledge, yourself.
Because of interview and research, I’ll never forget all the understanding and awareness I’ve gained about healthcare program grants, summer trips to Italy, the classical guitar program, literary review magazines, the student volunteer council, etc.
5.) It Pays!
Yeah, not very much, but, hey, who would complain about a little extra money, from a job that pays even more in the experience you gain?
So, there you have it: 5 reasons to work for a newspaper!
In retrospect, despite the ups-and-downs, I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the Corsair, and I would have missed out on the wonderful community of writers at the newspaper.
No, I don’t think I will seek a job at a newspaper in the future, since it’s not the area of writing I’m really passionate about, but it’s an experience that has grown and changed me, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.