5 good reasons to work for your student newspaper (plus one more great one)

Got some feedback on what a number of professors who might be using the “Dynamics of News Reporting and Writing” textbook thought about the blog and one comment caught me off guard a bit:

How about a plug for student media?”

Student media is among the most important influences in my life, both as a student and as a professor. Without my student newspaper experience at The Daily Cardinal at UW-Madison, I would be working in a garage somewhere doing oil changes and wheel alignments. I owe pretty much everything in my life, from my first paid media gig to my full professorship to that little windowless bunker that still smells exactly the same.

If I plugged student media in my classes any more than I already do, I’d be a cross between Lloyd Dobler from “Say Anything” and “Vince from Slap Chop.”

Student media is important, but don’t take it from me. Give Joe Buettner’s piece on his student newsroom experience a read. Buettner is a student at the University of Oklahoma, an alumnus of The Oklahoma Daily and current sports intern at the city’s daily paper. His piece on “Five Reasons You Should Join Your College Newspaper” nails the main elements of everything I could tell you about the experience, the camaraderie, the excitement and more. (Plus, he’s like half my age and he’s done it recently, so it’s not me waxing poetic about the “old days” when Vanilla Ice was cool or something.)

However, since I get the “long view” of student media, let me add one more reason why you should join that has nothing to do with what you get out of it: Your work matters to people.

Look back at the Rice Thresher’s coverage of Hurricane Harvey or the Cav Daily’s coverage of the “Unite the Right” march. (Spoiler alert: I’m getting in touch with Tim Dodson on Friday to talk about the paper’s follow ups on life at UVA these days.) Also look at these pieces:

Beyond these “big” stories are the day-in, day-out pieces that tell people what parking lots are closed, what teams are on a winning streak, who got arrested and who won an award. People read this stuff in student media because in most cases, it’s the ONLY place you CAN read it.

You do a heck of a lot of good for yourself working at the paper, that’s true, but you also have the benefit of knowing you did something that affected other people. It’s as good a reason as any to figure out where on campus the paper is located and give it a chance to change your life.


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