OPINION: Life lessons from the Collegian newsroom

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While college is intended for academic learning, the greatest educational opportunities come from outside the classroom. I learned more in the Collegian newsroom than I did in any classroom, and many of those lessons are applicable outside of newspaper life.

Nothing gets done without deadlines.

Everyone hates them, but they are absolutely necessary. Without deadlines, no one ever finishes anything, from writing a news story to taking out the trash.

Some people will never care about quality.

Some people refuse to care about the quality of their work. Some writers refuse to work with an editor to improve their story, and some members in class group projects refuse to do more than the bare minimum to pass. Don’t be one of these people.

Motivation cannot be taught.

People who are not self-motivated are some of the worst people of all. The writers who annoyed me the most were the ones who could not find a single topic they cared about. If you are in college and have no cares other than food, beer and video games, maybe you deserve to flip burgers when you drop out.

Try something before you decide to hate it.

We had a student in the beginning journalism class tell us at the start of the semester that he hated journalism and couldn’t wait to switch majors. Now, after three published stories, he asked to write more stories than his class requirement. If only more people could have an open mind.

In person is always better than over email.

When I want to talk to somebody for a story, I go to them. People can ignore emails and put phone calls on hold, but they have to deal with me when I am standing in their doorway. Interviews in person are always better because you get more honest and conversational answers. And a real in-person kiss is always better than a kiss emoji.

People are more important than politics.

The best stories are the ones that make an issue relatable by showing how it affects real people. For instance, more people care about presidential executive orders — regardless of their political views — when you show a K-State student who cannot reenter the U.S. after Donald Trump signs a travel ban. At that point, you see how the stroke of a pen in Washington, D.C. affects people in Manhattan, Kansas.

Some people comment without reading.

It amazes me whenever I see a Facebook comment on a Collegian story where the very question they ask is answered within the story. I assume they are too lazy to read, or they just don’t care about getting the facts. My job is to provide people with information, but there is wisdom in the cliche “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” Since you made it this far, thank you for not contributing to the epidemic of commenting without first reading.

If you want something done, do it yourself.

I hear ideas from people all the time, some better than others. But what they almost always have in common is they are ideas for someone else to do. People rarely want to be the ones to implement an idea, they want someone else to do it for them. If you have an idea for how to improve something, make it happen yourself if you actually want it done, and especially if you want it done right.

People love negative news.

We all complain about the news being too negative, even though reporters hardly control the events and facts of life. Even still, readers are drawn to negative news, even more so than positive news. Look at views for stories on the racist snapchat from September, the 4.0 GPA dropout who flipped of K-State in December and a beloved football coach’s cancer diagnosis. Don’t criticize reporters for writing facts that happen to be negative, especially after you also read it.

The best students sign the paychecks for others.

My high school history teacher told my class that the students who worked the hardest in his class would eventually sign the paychecks for the other students. I now sign about 30 pay sheets for some of the hardest-working people I have ever met.

Disney Fridays are always good Fridays.

The music I listen to while in my office is somewhat influenced by the day of the week. Mondays are usually hard rock, for instance. Fridays are Disney. There is nothing wrong with singing along to “Let it Go” when no one’s around, unless your news editor catches you and then tweets about it.

Jason Tidd is a senior in journalism. The views and opinions expressed in this review are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to [email protected]kstatecollegian.com.

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Jason Tidd
Jason Tidd graduated from Kansas State University's Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communication in May 2017. He was the spring 2017 editor-in-chief, fall 2016 news editor and spring 2016 assistant news editor. While at K-State, Jason played baritone in the Pride of Wildcat Land marching band.