The stress of finding something has been unbelievable, but I have to say that I think working at my college newspaper has been my best experience thus far when it comes to being in touch with what journalism is on a day to day basis. My classes have been great, but a column in the Huffington Post’s college section by Leah Finnegan captures the essence of why many of us bend over backwards day in and day out to produce a paper; it is the entry level experience that we all have to have to move on, and it is where we find out if we are going to sink or swim in this business.
Like Leah, I have often been frustrated with the negative connotation that is associated with working for your college daily. There is this perception that it is a second-rate gig. Finnegan says that many people associate a college newspaper with a “Sandbox operation.” I have found that far too many students, including news students, look at the paper as a second-rate place to start their career. Finnegan and I agree that they could not be more wrong.
“Some called the work nearly 200 of us did in our dingy basement newsroom “sandbox journalism”: journalism on training wheels, its hand being held as each story was published. It’s a fair enough assessment, I suppose, until you consider that my colleagues and I were in charge of a multi-million dollar paper, working late into the night covering a campus racked with issues and struggling to maintain the integrity of our product while the looming specter of industry downturn threatened our solvency and well-being.”
Finnegan’s column is really about the collaboration that is happening at the Huffington Post in their new college section, but it struck a deeper chord for me.
It is easy to get discouraged at moments when you are a college student working for your campus paper. The late nights of take-out food, procrastinated homework and proofs can all be difficult to deal with on a daily basis, but I can’t imagine my life without the daily budget meetings or the late-night conversations about the future of news.
I am glad the Finnegan and the Huffington Post are realizing that the work we do is big. It is just a stepping stone, but it is still a step in the right direction.