Earlier this semester I attended a conference on political engagement with editors-in-chief of college newspapers from around the country. One of the events was a forum in which the EICs gathered to discuss their experiences with their respective papers. By the third speaker, it was clear that the room was divided into two very different camps. Half of the EICs came from papers like the University of Georgia’s Red and Black; these papers have staffs in the hundreds, ingrained journalism programs that provide a steady stream of young writers and a compensation system in which even staff writers get paid. The other half, including myself, hailed from smaller liberal arts-leaning schools like Tufts University and University of Vermont. Our papers have staffs in the mid-20s, laboriously try to find writers and this one hurts don’t pay writers or executive staff.
I am reminded daily of the problems that come with being a small newspaper, and it as a testament to the dedication of the Campus Times staff that we put out a high- quality paper every week. First and foremost, we are in a constant struggle to find writers and then train them to write in CT style and to write well. Each year many of our best writers become editors, leaving the new staff with the challenge of finding a new core of young students who will contribute to the paper without any material incentive. I’m glad to see we found that core this semester, thanks to an enthusiastic executive staff who have done their best to make our writers feel welcome in the office so they keep coming back (I’m sure the free food helped, too).
Another issue that affects the CT is the lack of a journalism program at UR. Many of our writers worked on their high school papers, but just as many have never written before. Every editor holds office hours and encourages writers to come in and discuss their articles. I’ve seen writers who came in with absolutely no experience vastly improve their writing through these meetings.
Despite the best efforts of our staff, I’ve heard that many students think the CT is a closed operation and that new writers are not welcome. On the contrary, we encourage any and all students to contribute as often or little as they can fit into their busy schedules (and not only humanities students we have editors who major in math and biology). I personally started out writing for the CT early freshman year and had no idea where I’d end up.
My first article was a rant about how much I hate yellowjackets the animal, not the mascot. Soon I started writing news stories, and I was quickly given more and more challenging articles and eventually was elected news editor. I never regretted my decision in my second year to run for EIC, a much more time-consuming position, but there are so many other ways to get involved. Staff writer, contributing photographer, comic illustrator give it a shot and I’m sure you won’t regret it either.
Wrobel is a member of the class of 2010.