Let me start off by reminding you of how lucky you are. You are in one of, if not the best, journalism classes in the country. And that is a lot more important than being in the best chemistry class or the best pre-calc class.
And here is why: journalism is much more than a class.
Now you are probably saying, “Evan, didn’t you learn not to use clichés in high school?”
Yes critical reader, I did. But I have evidence for that claim, lots of it.
Let us first start with what skills are required for journalism. A good journalist needs critical thinking skills, people to people skills and the ability to write well and concisely.
Translate that to the real world and you already have some of the most important skills available. You can solve problems, converse with people and then summarize with writing; pretty much the core skills for the work place.
Now let me tell you, Mr. Alvarez teaches this as well as anyone, actually a lot better. I will admit, I am biased. Mr. Alvarez (though he likes to keep this a secret) has very similar views on the world as I do, so of course I was drawn in. He also is funny, and so gosh darn handsome.
But his greatest attribute (and no, it’s not the flat top) is getting you to think. What is the key to this story? What people do I need to talk to? What really should go in the nut graf?
Listen, I have spent my first three weeks of college working my ass off for the paper here. You think Mr. Alvarez asks a lot? You are about as wrong as Mitt Romney. Just one story for the Panther takes hours to get sources for, research, interview, write, edit, edit, edit, and edit.
You can’t just go talk to Mrs. Colborn then swing into Coop’s office for a chat about the subject. You can’t interview your friends, your significant other or your cat. You have to stick your neck out there and talk to strangers. Not just talk to them, harass them for information.
And you think that Mr. Alvarez asks for a lot of long stories and grades them too critically? The bare minimum for this college newspaper is 500 published words each week, so at least one published story. You are missing a comma: there goes 10% of the story grade. You misspell a name (and they do check): zero points. You miss your deadline by a minute (I turned my story in yesterday with 16 seconds to spare): zero points.
I’m not trying to tell you that college writing is hard and you young whippersnappers have it so easy; I am telling you what you need to know.
So here it is: journalism is hard. I have wanted to throw my laptop into the wall after receiving edits (although in college you have other ways to relax yourself), I have wanted to pawn the story off on someone else, I have wanted to just give up.
But the reward of taking a class and writing for a school newspaper is you get insight on the world that no other class can teach you. You are in a job, you have responsibilities that cannot just be ignored. You learn lessons that can be applied everywhere. And best of all, you meet awesome, cool and groovy people like your journalism teacher (I hope you have been watching these videos, there will be a test).
Even though the late Mr. Walker will turn over in his grave because of this cliché; keep working, it pays off in the end.
P.S. The real key to success as a staff writer is to have the attitude of the honey badger.