During my sophomore year of high school, I made a decision that changed my life: I joined the staff of my high school’s monthly newspaper.
I will never forget my first article. I was assigned to write a news story covering the BP oil spill in the Gulf. However, being from a small school in Ohio, there was not much to be written other than a generic outline of the events that occurred. Despite this, I somehow knew that I was getting into something much larger than myself.
I worked my way up to being a section editor my junior year, and managing editor my senior year. I loved being able to practice my writing and editing skills, and in that time, I learned how to be a leader, helping others to become better writers and to make a small difference in our community.
When I came to Wittenberg, however, I quickly adopted an entirely different belief system regarding the practices and presence of journalism. Instead of stories over questionable cafeteria “meat” products, I encountered scandals of sexual assault, administrators leaving without notice or reason, financial problems, etc.
I was terrified. How could I, only having a few years of experience covering minuscule matters on a monthly paper in nowheresville Ohio take on these stories that truly meant something and do a good job?
The editor-in-chief my freshman year was Katie Mauch, ‘14. She was a great editor and leader, and knew how to inspire her staff. My second week as a staff writer, I really wanted to impress her. She wanted a writer to cover sexual assault programming and campus case statistics, and nobody would claim the story.
Feigning confidence in a moment of passion, I took the story, not realizing how important it was until after the meeting had ended, and I was left with a list of contacts from whom I could obtain information.
When I looked at my finished article and read it on the front page of that week’s paper, I realized that what I wrote mattered. For the first time, I saw the impact and significance a journalist can have. I understood that as a journalist, I could be a liaison for the truth and the people.
I knew I needed to dedicate myself to doing everything I could to be that voice for factual information, and to help other journalists realize their potential. I have had the honor of being this paper’s managing editor for the last two years, and am ready to take on the role of editor-in-chief in the fall.
Every journalist has a duty to the people. He or she has to understand that the truth must come before everything else. This person must be unbiased and fair. He or she must do what must be done to get the story and tell the people. And above all, he or she must tell the news, and be that voice for the truth.
The Torch will return in September.