Happy Monday fellow bloggers, Rachel Lilly here. I received the privilege of interning for HMA Summer 2011, and I will be graduating from Northern Arizona University with a degree in Public Relations in just a few weeks! One aspect about NAU that I have come to love is their communication efforts on campus. So I asked Kevin Bertram, Editor-in-Chief of the NAU Lumberjack, to share his story and experience in the college publication world on this #MediaMonday. Take it away, Kevin! ...
If you would have told me that I’d be running NAU’s student newspaper when I first stepped onto campus three years ago, I wouldn’t have believed you. At the time, I was a history education major, and I only stepped into the newsroom in the first place because I wanted to write opinion columns. The news editor at the time, feeling he had a shortage of reporters and that his colleague didn’t need me as much as he did, redirected me.
In spite of the griping I do in the early morning while editing, in truth, I haven’t regretted a day of it. The paper has changed my life forever. I know what I want to do with my life, and working for it gave me the tools and connections I needed to get a head start on that path. I even met my current girlfriend while working for the paper. She wants to do public relations work, however. You can tell which one of us is thinking about our future finances!
Unlike its counterparts at the University of Arizona and Arizona State University, The Lumberjack is a weekly publication, not a daily. There’s just not enough personnel or resources available to do much more than that, but being a weekly also has other advantages: we can take more time to round out our reporting and make sure we’re bringing our audience quality coverage.
It’s important to be patient with student reporters. Unlike people working for professional publications, student journalists come with varied levels of experience, knowledge and time. Also, take some time to think about the medium. A lot of our sources get frustrated because we report on what seems like the same story every other year. As I explain to them, there’s a good reason for that: over half our readers have graduated within that time frame. Also anticipate that the same student reporters you may have talked to a year ago may not be the same one you’re talking to now: we come and go, we graduate and we transfer.
I’m not overly concerned with the doom-and-gloom message being projected about the current state of journalism in this country. I think most of it is hyperbole. The important thing is that young journalists need to know how to adapt to a rapidly changing world — one that nearly renders their college education obsolete by the time they graduate.
In addition to working for The Lumberjack, I write about science topics for Flagstaff’s daily newspaper, The Arizona Daily Sun. I also work for Flagstaff Business News and freelance for Flagstaff’s NPR affiliate, KNAU. When I have time, I blog, tweet and, as I mentioned earlier, I’m a history geek. In addition to my journalism degree I’ll be very proud to have graduated with a history degree. I’m a Phoenix native and lived there my entire life before heading up to the mountains. I love watching basketball (huge Suns fan), enjoy playing video games and watching movies.
Point is that even though I may be doing a lot of journalism work, I’m still just an overworked college student trying to get by. If you’re ever up in Flagstaff, feel free to contact me — I love meeting new people and talking about our newspaper.