blogging / College Media News

Working for the student newspaper

The Independent Florida AlligatorImage via Wikipedia Hillary Lehman writes about her experiences as incoming managing editor of the Independent Florida Alligator:

… running a student paper is anything but play. In terms of news content, you have the ability to really make a difference. And as anyone who has ever worked at his or her student paper knows, it’s really a full-time job. I’m managing people — people who care about their jobs as much as I do, and who care about getting the news out.

And even though I like to think of the Alligator staffers as competent journalists, the truth is: we’re all young. We are all, to some degree, inexperienced.

If the pen is mightier than the sword — well, we’re flying bombers at young ages. The paper has the potential to make people incredibly proud or incredibly angry; see the cartoon scandal.

That means the Alligator has problems that a well-oiled, well-managed decades-old newsroom wouldn’t face. Add the high staff turnover from semester to semester to that, and you’ve got a management nightmare.

It’s worth a read for advisers and students, and anyone who’s worked on their student media. I know of few campus activities that put inexperienced people in such high-level decision-making positions basically on their own (the football team has a coaching staff, the theatre department has directors, etc., but the newspaper staff – most of the time – has an “adviser,” who doesn’t make editorial decisions).

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