I started working for my college newspaper because I enjoyed editing and writing and figured I might as well get paid for it. I kept working for my college newspaper because I fell in love. What’s to love about working agonizingly long hours, scrambling to make deadline every week and getting angry letters-to-the-editor, you may ask? Read on.
1. You get to know everybody on camps (and I mean everybody): Especially if you start off writing for news or sports, you’re going to be at every campus event, covering anything from Puppy Day to flooding in the library. And you won’t just observe these dramas unfold; you’ll talk to school administrators, student leaders, faculty members, probably even your school president. It’s a fantastic way to not only learn about your school, but become an active member of the campus community.
2. You learn how to talk to people: As stated above, you’re going to be talking to a whole lot of people. Walking up to strangers and asking for a quote is somewhat terrifying the first few times, as is sending an interview request to the Dean of Students or the chair of your department. But the more interviews you conduct, the more comfortable you’ll become. You’ll also learn how to have a professional, engaging conversation about pretty much anything — which is basically how grown-ups survive small talk, so it’s a great tool to have.
3. You learn how to write — well: News writing is deceptively simple. Most news paragraphs are only three to five sentences long, the prose is simple, the vocabulary pretty basic, they typically only run at about 500 words — pretty easy, right? Surprisingly, not at all. Journalists have to take hordes of information gathered from a variety of sources and cram it into a limited space, all while making sure their writing is accessible to every demographic of reader. Writing journalistically forces you to be brief, clear, and objective, all of which you can use in your academic writing.
4. You learn to work well under pressure: When I was editor of my school paper, I liked to threaten my writers with the following phrase: “It’s a Dead-Line. As in, you’re dead if you don’t make it.” Articles need to be submitted at a certain time so that editors can get their pages finished and sent off to the printer, so everyone’s under pressure to complete her work precisely on time. Learning how to write quality copy under a lot of pressure is great practice for, well, everything.
5. It’s fun: Some of the aforementioned reasons make writing for your school newspaper sound mildly terrifying. And it is, to a certain extent. As a member of staff, all of your fellow writers and editors are relying on you to do solid work, not to mention the entire student body of readers. But student journalists also know how to have a great time. Working under deadlines and pulling late editing nights forces people to form some pretty close bonds; you’ll be amazed at how much fun it can be.