The importance of student journalism for student journalists

by Nicole Harris | Opinions Editor

Image courtesy of Student Press Law Center in honor of Student Press Freedom Day 2021.

When I started as a staff writer on the Opinions section at The Whitworthian, I considered myself well-informed, opinionated and attentive concerning current events issues. Most of all, I considered myself to be undeniably correct. I was wrong.

For my first major editorial, I came in guns blazing – full of opinions, articles to back my claims and something to prove. I was ready to conduct my interviews, hopeful that my sources would agree with me and further cement my views because, after all, my views were infallible. Of course, this is not what happened.

My first interview was with a theology professor. He met with me one afternoon, nervous about what I would ask and how I would use his answers, but intrigued all the same. I began reading questions off my list, paying little attention to his words and more attention to how little his answers lined up with my own beliefs. With each answer, he took me further and further from my original argument. Pretty soon we were so far off my carefully planned interview track and so far down the rabbit hole of the chosen topic that I put my pen down and started to just talk to him, person to person, Christian to Christian.

This conversation did not change my editorial entirely, but it did make me realize how little I was listening to those around me. It changed how I would approach editorials, but most importantly, it changed how I would approach conflict in my personal life.

Publications like The Whitworthian exist as a space for students like me to try new things, make mistakes and learn to be better journalists. The world needs more journalists invested in reporting the truth, informing the public and helping others see new points of view. We may not all become professional reporters after graduation, but our time at The Whitworthian can change how we, as former journalists, interact with the world around us. We will have a greater respect for the media, the ability to ask the tough questions and the drive to find our own answers. What the world really needs are information seekers and problem solvers: two characteristics shaped here at The Whitworthian.