Why student media matters
Up in the West Annex of Perkins Student Center is a dirty office. The floors are scattered with old newspapers, the walls are clad with pictures alluding to inside jokes (many of which no one is in on anymore) and the recycling bin is full of empty Dunkin Donuts cups. It’s inhabited by an eclectic group of curious, hilarious, somewhat angry but hard working, witty and brilliant people that have spent the earliest hours of many Tuesdays putting together your weekly campus newspaper.
This newspaper has no money and very little resources but by some miracle it comes out every week. Actually it’s not a miracle, it’s the product of people that frankly, just give a shit (and also a very patient printing company).
A Monday night at The Review typically consists of rants on feminist theory, disputes over how to properly use the word “dage” that also complies with AP style and someone yelling “can we fix this headline?!?” across the office. We know we’re nerdy but we love this thing.
I’ve have spent entire parties huddled in a corner with other staff members where we end up only talking about this newspaper and entire afternoons planning with my co managing editor trying to ensure that The Review had a future. I’ve skipped more classes than I care to admit to go interview sources or cover events; somehow, The Review usually felt more important. I learned more in this office than I did in any classroom.
This newspaper is a place of trial and error, curiosity, creativity and teamwork. This is an organization that always has a space for history to be analyzed, art and pop culture to be discussed, politics to be debated, a social construction to be identified, and admittedly, the occasional conspiracy theory to be developed.
I’ve spent many of those early Tuesday hours when my eyes were glazing over with exhaustion thinking about why it mattered, why student media was important and if the stress or the late nights were worth these 15 gray pages each week that may or may not be read. It was and here’s why:
Before anything else, student media is about community. It’s about capturing the identity of this community, this university and the student experience in a way the administrators can’t and won’t. It’s about telling the underrepresented student’s story with more than just numbers, talking to the faculty member about why they love their research, listening to the local musician and hearing out the student activist. Student media is about finding where the outside world hits our four-year home. There’s a person, a business, an office on campus that’s affected by federal policies and global issues. There is someone here that is creating change and someone else deterring it. It’s about understanding that our college bubble is microcosmic.
At least that’s what it tries to do.
Student media seeks to understand what gives a campus its pulse — it doesn’t care about maintaining the story told on a university pamphlet— and that insight will always be more capable of correcting culture and attitudes than any PR initiative will.
I’m convinced that student media groups are perhaps the only places on campus that can be all of these things and have this kind of consciousness, yet still always be a space full of support and laughter.
So if I can end my college journalism career on a last note it’s this: read your literature magazine, watch your student TV network, listen to your college radio station and pick up your campus newspaper. Support your student media because if it doesn’t give you a sense of home, then join and you’ll probably find one.