22 Things You Learn When You Work For A College Newspaper

1. This is how most people feel for the first week month year.

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Mean Girls

2. There are few things more horrifying than a truly pissed off Editor-in-Chief on their third cup of coffee looking over proofs/mockups x-ing things out with a big red pen. It means you should be canceling your plans to do anything outside the office for the next 24 hours.

3. How frustrating it is to see other students complain about their workload when you have to be up until about 3-5 a.m. and then sleep with your phone next to your face in case your editor or the printer calls with an issue, and it’s back to the office you go.

4. The differences between a high school and college newspaper are so laughably extreme that you can’t help but feel bad for the people who think that because they’ve done the former they have ANY idea what it means to do the latter.

5. There are few places where you can convene with people who hate math as much as you do than in a college newsroom.

6. On a more serious note: leading by example is far more effective than trying to influence people by threatening, punishing or intimidating, and teamwork is the only way anything gets done effectively– the trick is getting each member to be dedicated to their part of the equation and to do so by convincing them that it’s their idea. Intrinsic motivation always wins.

7. How to eye a pica (yes that is a life skill back off haters). And that a scorning attention to detail is being able to see a pica that’s off by .1 or a story that is kerned 5 above what your limit is or that there’s a misplaced comma, all from a -75% zoom.

8. The difference between a 500 word article and a 750 word article and how significant that is when it’s seven hours into your production night and you need that space filled.

9. That copy editors are genuinely scary when it comes to style guides that aren’t followed or inconsistent tenses (all of which I am so, so guilty of, please love me anyway guys…)

10. What it means to be objective and value-neutral: a feat that is almost impossible to execute, but is crucial when it comes to journalism.

11. An understanding of the politics of how what we are exposed to and informed of is probably more contrived and deliberate than we realize, as we get first-hand experience in determining what’s news worthy and what isn’t.

12. The magic of a little kerning here and there (just kidding, everywhere).

13. How to design a proper info-graphic and simultaneously become strikingly aware of just how much people are visual creatures who take better to concise information in an aesthetically-pleasing format than a block of text. In other words, you start to realize that all that really seems to matter a lot of the time are headlines, photos, images and the first few sentences of the story, all of which you avoid telling the writers who have worked manically on their pieces.

14. That you should hire someone to put the papers out for you, because you’ll spend the rest of your day/week with black ink stains on your hands and clothes.

15. That a topic of political interest that is too largely ignored is the use of the oxford comma (by the way, I’m all for it– go ahead, have at me, copy editors and AP-style-pushers of the world).

16. That a slow news week means one of a few things. We change the headline of something to make it seem important, put a feature on the front page with and make that seem important or just make the reporters/assistants hunt down something that would make people pick up the damn paper.

17. There are few things in this world more irritating that blatant incompetence, especially when that comes in the form of a missed deadline, a not-even-publishable-it’s-so-terrible story, a missed brainstorm session or a confused newsroom because the Adobe Creative Suite keeps freezing.

18. How easily people can get upset over things you publish that you did not even think would be offensive/the slightly entertaining letters to the editor or emails you get from these people who care just a little bit too much about a paper that roughly 15 people read anyway.

19. How awkward it can be to be someone’s friend outside of the office and technically their boss inside of the office… and how difficult it is to not let those lines blur.

20. At the same time, how to be a kick ass employee because you’ve had the experience of having employees and so you’ve seen what does and doesn’t work from the other person’s perspective.

21. How getting interviews on a college campus would seem like an easy feat but most writers still tend to just email a professor they know questions and copy/paste their responses (sad but true).

22. That there is honestly no better feeling than seeing your work on newsstands, having the platform to communicate with your campus and seeing your name on a byline for the first time, or noted in the paper as one of the editors. I don’t know what it is about seeing it all in print, but that sense of accomplishment doesn’t go away, and it’s what makes all the rest of the madness more than worth it.  TC Mark

Brianna Wiest

Brianna Wiest is the author of SALT WATER, out December 6th.

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Salt Water, the new poetry collection by Brianna Wiest, is a must-have book on your journey to healing. Grab a cup of tea and let these essential, purifying prose calm your mind and filter out the noise.

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  • http://relativelyclever.wordpress.com Rachel Cisto

    Reblogged this on Relatively Clever and commented:
    College TV station works here too.

  • http://davidswartzlander.com/2013/10/01/the-22-things-you-learn-working-for-a-college-paper/ David Swartzlander | The 22 things you learn working for a college paper

    […] out this writer’s 22 things you learn when you work for a college newspaper. Can you add to the […]

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