Trying to explain the allure of student media for some people is like trying to explain why you love your dog: It’s less logic than feeling and it’s a feeling few things can replicate.
And in some cases, it lasts a lifetime.
My student newspaper was The Daily Cardinal, the sixth-oldest student daily in the country and one of two papers at the University of Wisconsin’s flagship campus. I remember getting my first column published and grabbing a stack of the papers, handing them out to everyone I knew and mailing copies home to my family members. Grandma clipped it out and stuck it up on her refrigerator. Dad took a copy of the paper to work and practically badgered every guy he saw at the factory that week into reading it while he waited.
Despite the column being exactly the kind of thing I tell students to avoid writing now, that memory still counts as a happy one for me, many, many years later. An even better Cardinal-related memory came from one of our paper’s alumni reunions. Staffs from decades earlier arrived to see the office, talk shop and share stories of their days at the paper. Two elderly gentlemen, who looked like Statler and Waldorf from “The Muppet Show,” slowly walked toward each other and had that, “HEY! It’s YOU!” moment in the hall.
They asked if The Cardinal still had the old bound volumes of newspapers from eons ago, so a staffer led them to the back shop, scaled a ladder toward some of the most ancient tomes and brought down the papers these men had sweated over decades earlier. Somewhere around the third page of nostalgia, one of them jabbed his finger at a dusty book and turned to his friend, saying, “See? That headline is STILL horseshit!” And off the went, debating a moment that predated everyone else in the room.
The reason I touched on this today was that Chip Stewart, a former colleague, a good friend and a constant source of legal help, wrote a post about his experiences with The Daily Campus at SMU. The paper hit financial trouble recently, something almost ALL papers face these days, and Stewart had worked with some other DC alums to try to save the place. For some reason, the post popped up yesterday in my feed, even though he wrote it more than a month ago. However, it’s a good read and a good endorsement for student media, even though that’s not the point he’s trying to make.
I can’t think of another endeavor I undertook in college that still has a hold on me to this day. In talking to several other colleagues and former students, I get the sense that this is more of a truism than a rarity. So, if you’re thinking about joining the student TV station, radio station, newspaper, magazine, yearbook or whatever else is out there at your institution, give it a shot. You (probably) won’t regret it.
Either way, here’s Chip and his look at “My failed efforts to rescue The Daily Campus at SMU.”