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Reflecting on four years as a student journalist

By Jess Linde

Section: Opinions

March 18, 2016

My time at Brandeis, including my near four years serving at The Brandeis Hoot, is coming to an end. A lot has happened over the course of this, but very few events have meant more than my time at this newspaper. From my humble beginnings as an inconsistent arts writer, to both news and arts, to my current position as Managing Editor, the journey has made me part of several great groups of people and allowed me the privilege of writing articles that make differences and mean things to people. I am also extremely proud of the fantastic writers and editors who will remain at The Hoot when I and other senior members have graduated.

 

Upon arriving as a first-year at Brandeis, my greatest aspiration was to be a respected cultural critic, and my only interest in journalism was finding a place to be an outlet for my opinions. So I sent in some album reviews and movie reviews to The Hoot, was published, and got to send some links back to mom and dad. It was not much, but it was something I liked doing. Then I took my first journalism course at Brandeis, “Ethics in Journalism” with the amazing Professor Eileen McNamara, and I decided to try and get more involved at The Hoot. I started writing news articles, then started actually attending production nights on Thursdays, becoming a News Editor. But enough about the journey.

 

Whatever my position, The Hoot has allowed me a greater sense of myself as a Brandeis student. Outside of and through the paper, I have had the extreme privilege of interacting with and being friends with students of various races, genders and religious backgrounds. Whether it was covering cultural club events or witnessing the incredible work student activists put into opening the Rape Crisis Center, these experiences have helped my journalism by showing me the deeper human stories of Brandeis. I am extremely proud to have been able to tell those stories through my articles. Even when I have made mistakes in my reporting, receiving criticism from fellow Brandeisians has only made me strive to be better.

 

More than anything, my time as a student journalist has taught me to be humble and impartial. I have learned to ask “why” something is happening instead of only “what” it is, and not to drop the “student” from “student journalist.” I constantly strive to remind myself that I am still a member of the Brandeis community, not above or apart from it, and that what I write has an effect on people I see every day. Despite some mistakes, since I’m only human, I believe I have done justice to the stories I’ve written, from executive compensation to administrative town halls, and I thank the Brandeis community for the ways they have let me cover those stories. I also want to thank the team at The Brandeis Hoot for dealing with my oft-narrow view of how an article should be written, and for all the bagels and advice that have been shared on Thursday nights these past several years.
The exact place and duty of the student journalist is a topic I have been asked about and discussed a lot in class, at the paper and internally. If you cannot tell by the above rambling, I am not completely sure of that exact definition, but I do think it is a necessary position. At its absolute best, campus journalism can inform the student body and inspire conversations among readers—student and faculty alike. It can bring people together and right wrongs. I can confidently say that The Hoot has led me to write, edit and read pieces that do this, and I am even more confident that this publication will continue to do so after I am gone. So if anyone has the same lofty dreams and ideals I cannot seem to rid myself of, stop by the BMC office sometime. You may not always know what you’re doing, but you know you should be doing it. And that’s enough for me, at least.

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