From TyLisa C. Johnson: At my student publications, we made something out of virtually nothing

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Name: TyLisa C. Johnson

College publications:  The Famuan, Journey magazine (Tallahassee, Florida)

Where I am now:  Incoming Lenfest Fellow, Reporter at the Philadelphia Inquirer

When I became editor-in-chief of Florida A&M University’s Journey magazine, we had the tiniest budget in recent memory; about $1200 a semester. It was a moment that left me grappling with an industry-wide question: How do I make more with less?
Two years later, by way of creativity and finesse, I had overseen the publishing of six magazines — most printed, some exclusively digital. So early in my career, I learned about the issues plaguing the journalism field, but also of the field’s importance. Time and time again, my staff and I made something out of (virtually) nothing and then took that something and made it award-winning. I gained my deepest friendships and most cherished memories working until 4 a.m. in the magazine office to make deadlines, or reporting on a three-hour Board of Trustees meeting for our student newspaper, The Famuan. Reporting for The Famuan taught me bravery, compassion and the importance of having someone to hold the “higher powers that be” accountable. It was truly a highlight of my college career. The nights spent on my makeshift bed (office couch) are what eventually led to bigger journalistic opportunities for me, a black, female reporter. Outside of what wonderful things these newsrooms do for students, everyone should support student newsrooms, because those newsrooms help shape our country’s future. Those newsrooms are the foundation for people who will go on to write the news stories of tomorrow, potentially changing the culture or the country with their words. So please, support student newsrooms and continue to encourage young journalists to be the brave journalists our country needs.

From Ben Conarck: The Vermont Cynic ‘reaffirmed my commitment to the profession’

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Name: Ben Conarck

College publication: The Vermont Cynic ( Burlington, Vermont)

Where I am now: Investigative Reporter at The Florida Times-Union

As an undergrad, I went to a school without a formal journalism program (the University of Vermont). In my sophomore year, I decided I needed an extracurricular activity and, due to my interest in journalism, decided to start volunteering for the student-run newspaper: The Vermont Cynic. I learned some of the basics of the craft and began reporting. Within a semester, I was editing other students. I would have never entertained the idea of a career in journalism without the ability to try it out myself in a low-stakes, low-risk environment. This reaffirmed my commitment to the profession and helped inform my career decisions post-graduation.

From Daniel Funke: ‘The independence of college media isn’t granted — it’s earned every single day.’

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Name: Daniel Funke

College publication: The Red & Black (Athens, Georgia)

Where I am now: Fact-Checking Reporter at Poynter

When I started at the University of Georgia in 2013, I immediately knew I wanted to join The Red & Black. I remember walking from my freshman dorm to an open house in the newsroom, where I was intimidated but determined to meet the editors. I became a general assignment reporter, writing stories in between — and often during — classes. The place quickly became my life, and I worked there in almost every capacity over the course of three years.

I learned more at The Red & Black than I did at any of the internships I had while attending the University of Georgia. It’s where I learned how to write, report, take photos, edit stories, execute strategy and become a newsroom leader. It’s where I met all my best friends and made some of my favorite college memories. It’s the reason I got several internships and a fellowship in college before landing my current job at Poynter. It’s the reason I love journalism.

Thinking about The Red & Black without its financial and editorial independence is impossible. As editor-in-chief my junior year, I regularly impressed upon younger editors the importance of doggedly covering both Athens and the university. I told them about The Walkout in 2012, when, rather than ceding editorial oversight to a permanent adviser, the top student editors quit the paper in protest. I talked about how, in the 1990s, student editors sued the state of Georgia over an open records request — and won.

Those stories are important. The independence of college media isn’t granted — it’s earned every single day. It’s late nights in the newsroom writing breaking stories, cutting classes to go to press conferences and learning how to cover death and grieve simultaneously. It’s not giving up when a university official calls you on your cell phone and complains about a story, or when someone threatens a lawsuit via email. It’s doing the best work you can with precious few resources.

Support student newsrooms. Donate money. Give them clicks. Subscribe. Be loud on social media. Pressure your alma maters. Know that our mainstream press is only as good as our independent student press.

Exactly a year ago, I graduated from UGA. But I really feel like I graduated from The Red & Black — and it’s made all the difference.

From Anna Hyzy: ‘If we lose the newsroom, we lose the stories’

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Name: Anna Hyzy

College publication: Indiana Daily Student (Bloomington, Indiana)

Where I am now: Design Editor at The New York Times

The Indiana Daily Student was, without even a moment of hesitation, the best part of my college experience. It was in that newsroom that I found what I wanted to be and it was in that newsroom that I found friends and a community that pushed me to become that. I experimented, I made mistakes and I grew. I watched older students pass through who went on to be leaders in our field just a few short years out. The IDS gave us the tools we needed to be effective, discerning journalists.
Without student newsrooms, and even without those newsrooms being independent, we lose not just a training ground for future journalists, but an area of coverage. It has been the Indiana Daily Student that has held Indiana University responsible for Title IV violations, the Indiana Daily Student that has tirelessly covered student deaths, sexual assaults and University decisions. I was proud to be a part of that newsroom every day I walked in. If we lose the newsroom, we lose the stories and we absolutely cannot afford to do that. We also can’t afford a generation of journalists who haven’t had the opportunity to develop skills like news judgement, which I certainly think independence makes much easier to learn. The experience of working in a trial-by-fire independent student-run newsroom is what I needed to keep up with the trial-by-fire workplace that most professional newsrooms are.

From Lauren Patrick: ‘Every minute I spent in our newsroom was incredible’

Name: Lauren Patrick
College Newspaper: The Red & Black
Where I Am Now: Editor at PrettySouthern.com
Being the Editor-in-Chief of The Red & Black was a dream come true. Every minute I spent in our newsroom was incredible. Those were truly my glory days at UGA. Being an independent student newspaper is so critical to have a truly free press un-thwarted by university administrators. We held the university accountable for its actions, challenged the president (with whom I had more than one uncomfortable meeting) and gave students a voice who might otherwise not have had one. #SaveStudentNewsrooms

From David Aldridge: I learned about hard work, sacrifice and the importance of small gestures

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Name: David Aldridge
College Newspaper: The Eagle, American University, 1983-87
Where I Am Now: Reporter, Turner Sports

Working at The Eagle at American University in Washington, D.C.–back before many of y’all were zygotes–changed my life, and all to the good. I walked in the newsroom the second day I was on campus and, other than showering and drinking elsewhere, basically didn’t leave for four years. I became a reporter there. I became an editor there. I became Editor in Chief there. And throughout those four years, I learned so much–about reporting, certainly, but much more importantly, about working hard, and well. I learned how to manage different people with different sensibilities. I learned about sacrifice and how small gestures can go a long way. And I made friendships that have lasted a lifetime. I can’t stress strongly enough how important an independent student media is to try and hold administrators accountable, to shed light on communities that are underrepresented and whose voices are unheard, and to advocate on behalf of students in an era where resources are scarce and the cost of higher education increases, seemingly exponentially, every year. #SaveStudentNewsrooms

From Carolyn Roque: Journalism and the truth matter so much right now.

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Name: Carolyn Roque

Where I am now: FSView & Florida Flambeau/Staff Writer (Tallahassee, Florida)

My interest in journalism began in high school after I took a journalism class and then went on to join the yearbook staff for the next 3 years. Yearbook was a huge part of my life and I learned things that helped me in college at every level. The work and friendships I made shaped who I am, and those memories are still clear as day in my head (like watching Shattered Glass to learn about ethics, and learning to write movie reviews after watching Ferris Bueller’s Day Off).

When I began college, I pretty much stepped away from journalism and went on to study creative writing. As a junior in college, I’ve found my way back to journalism and it feels like home (cue dramatic music).

I am thankful to the FSView for giving me the opportunity to be a part of their wonderful team. I am proud to write for this award-winning paper that so many put so much time and effort into every week and every day.

Without student newsrooms, I don’t know how prepared I would be for this career that I hope to pursue. Without student newsrooms, I wouldn’t of met the pretty incredible people that I know today. Without student newsrooms, I would have nowhere to place the curiosity and restlessness that us journalists live with.

Journalism and truth matters so much right now. We need to keep student newsrooms alive because these students are the ones that will go on to become the journalists that uncover truths that need to be told, or tell stories of those who don’t have a voice, or even bring people to justice. I’m talking like the staff of The Washington Post, uncovering years of Roy Moore’s sexual harassment history. The New York Times covering the Russian interference in the 2016 election. Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey’s coverage of Hollywood’s sexual predators. & So. Much. More.

Journalism matters and it all starts in student newsrooms. Pick up a paper, follow some socials, and support, support, support. #SaveStudentNewsrooms