I wrote the following journal entry on January 26, 2021, because discussions in my media ethics class were making me more aware of the American public’s cynical view of the media. People see newspapers as biased and untrustworthy because in their minds, all journalists care about is getting recognition and selling papers. The realization that I was soon going to write my last story for The Wichitan was setting in, and I began to see hope for journalism and print writing in our very own college newsroom.
January 26, 2021
Bright, cheery, rosy red brick walkways lead to the humanities building. Some may call it archaic and musty; I say it feels like home. Many people say print writing is a dying industry. They wouldn’t say that if they stepped foot in the sleepy little humanities building where young dreamers sit in circles discussing the greatest literature of all time and what it takes to become a writer. They wouldn’t say that if they walked through the atrium in Fain Fine Arts Center, where inspiration flows as freely as the rain falls down the panes of the wall-to-wall skylight with a pitter-patter.
To anyone blaming their life problems on the media, I invite you to climb the stairs of the mass communication wing, the walls all crisp white, like a clean slate, a place to find oneself. Then march into The Wichitan newsroom, which is never anything short of a lovable, chaotic mess. The collective stress is palpable in the room, but so is the passion. Take a look around the newsroom at 11 p.m. on production night, at Bridget sitting in her corner, editing, yelling song lyrics, and stopping occasionally only to ask about some minute detail in the story she’s reading, which she usually answers herself anyway. Look at Omar, always pushing us to look beyond the surface of a story, staring, eyes peeled open on the computer screen, designing the pages of stories that were turned in 20 minutes ago. Look at Amos googling the flag and borderlines of some tiny country while he waits for more stories to be turned in. Look at Stephanie who’s casually correcting dozens of errors and quietly letting Amos know that she’s done. Look at Dallas who comes by to drop off another wholesome comic strip but then stays for a few hours because someone said, “Hey you’re an English major. Come look at this.” Then take a look at the group as a whole, a group who devotes hours of their lives to this paper each week.
“Seek the truth and report it” is what Bradley Wilson trained us to do in my first journalism class. The newsroom is filled with people who are striving to do just that. It’s full of writers who try to get every side of the story and editors who will tell them if they don’t. If it’s an eating disorder story, men must be represented. If it’s an international student story, it isn’t acceptable to only have a couple of nationalities represented. If there is a university scandal, the Wichitan will let the school know, but also, if janitors are going above and beyond to keep the school clean during the pandemic, the Wichitan will let the students know that too. Even if all the members of the staff go on to be teachers or personal investigators because they didn’t think they could find a news job, they can always look back at the stories they’ve written and remember what it was like to be in a room full of people who weren’t afraid to dream big, the only group of people I know who could get fired up about an oxford comma debate, people who are capable of changing cynics’ minds, even for an instant, making them believe that maybe the media isn’t “the enemy of the people.” Maybe journalists are just like everyone else, doing their best to get through the day and reaching for success and happiness along the way. Maybe, just maybe, there is hope for the news after all.