STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

What I learned from student journalism changed everything

I came across some old photos last week. Two photos, actually. One from 2002, when I was editor of my colleg...

Posted: Aug 6, 2018 7:19 AM
Updated: Aug 6, 2018 7:19 AM

I came across some old photos last week. Two photos, actually. One from 2002, when I was editor of my college newspaper at Kishwaukee College. The other from 2012, when I was the adviser to that same college newspaper.

After developing a passion for journalism while working on the student newspaper in college, I graduated with a journalism degree and a commitment to the craft. I'd worked my way up from reporter to editor. As a reporter, I was a regular in the university president's office, asking about the campus issues that mattered most to students. Shortly after I became editor, September 11 happened. As the newspaper staff worked overtime to cover the tragedy, I saw the impact and responsibility that reporters possess. We were the line of information to the public. Our words had power.

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Crime, law enforcement and corrections

Crimes against persons

Criminal offenses

Education

Education systems and institutions

Higher education

International relations and national security

Journalism and news media

Media industry

National security

Newspapers

Publishing industry

September 11

Shootings

Terrorism

Terrorism and counter-terrorism

Terrorist attacks

Unrest, conflicts and war

Student publications

Students and student life

A few years later, I found myself back in that same newsroom -- only this time, I was the adviser, teacher and mentor.

From that very first day, I wanted to spark the same sort of passion in my students that my own time on the paper had sparked in me. In fact, that's what I wrote in the Journalism 101 packet I handed out to the staff. At the same time, though, I knew I had to walk a tenuous tightrope in my role: I was there to guide and advise, but the students, in order to learn, were in charge.

During my first year, a gunman opened fire in a classroom at Northern Illinois University, which was close to the college where I was working as an adviser. I guided the staff in covering the shooting, just as my adviser had done for me during September 11. I could see that spark begin forming in my students; they were starting to see that their work mattered, that journalism is an integral part of society -- and especially, an integral part of democracy.

I also emphasized how much they had to learn from the reporters who came before them. I'd mention how two 20-something journalists for The Washington Post broke the Watergate scandal that eventually led to President Richard Nixon's resignation. As they said in "All The President's Men," the film that chronicled Woodward and Bernstein's journey, "follow the money." It will always lead you somewhere.

Although it's been six years since I moved on from being an adviser to writing full-time, I can't help but think of those student journalists when I see work by the thousands of journalists on the front lines today, many of them young. I want to say to them: Those whose voices are talking the loudest and deriding journalism don't reflect the views of the majority of Americans. Your work is not going unnoticed by people who care.

As our political, social and cultural landscape continues to change, I think about all the lessons I've taught journalists in training and, especially, about what advice I'd give journalism students today.

And most importantly, I hope today's aspiring journalists know that we see them and value them. In my letter to the staff on my last day as an adviser, I left them with these words: "You're moving into a new era of journalism. The Web. Videos. Social media. They all come together. They all come together to help tell the story because, at the core, that's what journalism is all about. Telling a story. Even though my time as adviser is coming to an end, your journey of storytelling is just beginning. I look forward to seeing where it takes you."

If my experience walking in both sets of "shoes" -- as a reporter and then as an adviser -- has taught me anything, it's how important it is to continue the journalism tradition for the next generation. I had amazing mentors and maybe someday, my former students will be a mentor for someone in return.

Indeed, there is a whole world of stories out there waiting to be told. Journalism makes a difference. Journalism matters. In fact, it might be just the thing that saves us all.

West Lafayette
Overcast
58° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 58°
Kokomo
Overcast
54° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 54°
Rensselaer
Overcast
55° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 55°
Fowler
Overcast
55° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 55°
Williamsport
Overcast
58° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 58°
Crawfordsville
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 61°
Frankfort
Overcast
59° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 59°
Delphi
Overcast
56° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 56°
Monticello
Overcast
55° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 55°
Logansport
Overcast
55° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 55°
Windy and Warmer Weather for Wednesday.
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 119066

Reported Deaths: 3612
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion21563768
Lake10745324
Elkhart6734112
St. Joseph6679115
Allen6364205
Hamilton4965109
Vanderburgh384231
Hendricks2779124
Monroe267137
Tippecanoe259013
Johnson2362125
Clark226757
Porter222447
Delaware201162
Cass19589
Vigo187928
Madison171475
LaPorte151941
Warrick140743
Floyd140464
Howard133964
Kosciusko127117
Bartholomew119357
Marshall102124
Dubois100919
Boone99746
Grant96636
Hancock94843
Noble92932
Henry82226
Jackson77610
Wayne77314
Morgan73940
Shelby68329
Daviess68129
Dearborn67928
LaGrange64711
Clinton63414
Harrison59824
Putnam59011
Gibson5455
Knox5379
Lawrence51829
Montgomery51321
DeKalb49111
White48814
Decatur46139
Miami4394
Greene42936
Fayette42314
Jasper4032
Steuben3977
Scott39311
Posey3541
Sullivan33812
Jennings31712
Franklin31525
Clay3105
Ripley3108
Orange28724
Whitley2876
Carroll28013
Adams2773
Wabash2758
Starke2737
Washington2702
Wells2694
Spencer2683
Jefferson2523
Huntington2503
Fulton2462
Tipton22922
Randolph2238
Perry22213
Jay1920
Newton17411
Owen1711
Martin1690
Pike1691
Rush1584
Vermillion1320
Fountain1302
Blackford1223
Pulaski1141
Crawford1100
Parke1072
Brown1033
Benton860
Ohio797
Union790
Switzerland690
Warren411
Unassigned0227

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events