Student journalism creates opportunities

Mia C. Vu

As a student journalist, claiming that student journalism is important isn’t the utmost example of objectivity to offer our audience. But one thing I will argue is while student journalism alone cannot initiate changes, it sure creates opportunities for changes to happen.

One of the first duties of student journalists is to help keep our community well-informed. As part of the community, student journalism represents and speaks out for the students from a unique and vital point of view, being both the insiders and spectators.

“No one else occupies that third space where you are part of two different worlds. You’re supposed to be this neutral, third-party observer. But you also can’t separate yourself from the fact that you are a student living and taking classes on campus,” Teddy Gonzales, class of 2020, said. Gonzales was the co-editor in chief of the Observer for two years.

Taking into account what is happening in the newsroom, Gonzales’ insight rings even more true. Student journalists generate story ideas, research and investigate issues. By having their ears to the ground, they can understand what is relevant to the community, especially the youth. Student journalism opens the door for valuable information to reach a wider audience, be it students seeking information and entertainment or faculty who want to know what their students value.

We also need to acknowledge the fact that newsroom employment has dropped drastically in the past decade, according to the Pew Research Center. This means campus publications now have to step up and uncover stories that understaffed outside media failed to address.

“A lot of articles and videos we produced in the past were used by president Bahls in board meetings [as examples] of the students and the campus community’s perspectives,” Gonzales said.

What’s more important is that student journalism exposes the campus community to a diverse array of opinions. When student journalism upholds the principle of fairness and impartiality, I consider the student news outlet as a forum that gives its audience opportunities to engage in open-minded conversations and debates over matters they care about. Not only does student journalism establish a space for voices to be heard, it also encourages students of different opinions to explore the depth of the issues respectfully and intellectually.

Second term of my freshmen year, I walked out of an activities fair with a newspaper in hand, not knowing it would be the reason for me to apply for a position at The Observer. At first, it was purely because I thought the graphics saying “protect our Bahls” was intriguing. But reading the article on why Augustana should provide free menstrual products and condoms got me to reflect back on small tins of tampons I had been seeing around campus restrooms without questioning it. Because there are student journalists taking part in confronting concerns and challenges, people like myself can benefit from a safer and better campus.

That occasion influenced me to become a student journalist, which opened up an opportunity to step out of my comfort zone to start writing, embracing new people and new experiences. Likewise, many other students can find unique ways to enhance their literacy skills, discover their interests and expand their horizon by having an active student journalism culture.

Student journalism not only creates opportunities for changes regarding school policies and happenings on campus, but also changes at a deeper, personal level from within each individual student. It is something that connects the college with its community as well as students with one another.