Walk a mile in the shoes of student journalists

Abbey Whittington, Columnist

Everyone makes mistakes, especially students who are learning in their field of study.

Sounds redundant, right?

We all know people make mistakes, but for some reason people always need to be reminded that student journalists fit into the same category of forgiveness during their academic journey.

Is this a justification for journalists to make careless mistakes? Of course not. Every student journalist on this campus follows some code of ethics and strives for accuracy, whether they are with the news channels, yearbook, newspaper and so on.

While it may be hard to believe, we are human. We are one of the only fields of study on campus that literally has their work on display for the entire campus AND Charleston community to see.

Not to mention alumni and whoever else is reading content online.

Keeping this in mind, we are up for scrutiny by pretty much anyone who feels like screaming at us¾and I am not bluffing. We have been on the receiving end of some pretty loud, nasty phone calls.

I am not saying we cannot take criticism; by all means, let us know if we have made a mistake. We tend to be thick skinned with all of the criticism¾and if not, we become thick skinned.

But do it in a respectful and constructive way because you are not stripped of your humanity when you get a problem wrong on a test.

You might have the luxury of keeping the bumps of your academia within a folder, but ours is public, so please try to put yourself in our shoes.

I also find that some of this heat comes within our own journalism department or from students who are taking journalism courses, and a lot of times the heat comes from people who have never walked into a college newsroom.

To those who are skeptical: I understand how word of mouth or past mistakes can damage your opinion of how the newsroom might work.

I remember my first time walking into the newsroom. I felt small and squeamish, but I quickly learned of the plethora of opportunity that this department offers.

If the problem lies within leadership in the newsroom, it is also important to remember many of the students in higher positions are still learning just like you when you are getting trained to write a story or take a photograph.

The funny thing is, most people within the department either a.) have not even stepped foot into any college newsroom or b.) not been in the newsroom long enough to understand the dynamic of the workplace.

I cannot speak for every publication at Eastern, but I would not be surprised if they agree with me when I say, come into the newsroom if you have beef with the way a publication does things.

Last year’s editor of this very page, Shelby Niehaus, was fed up with the grammatical errors in The Daily Eastern News, so she became a copy editor.

Although not everyone is as willing to go as far as to work for a publication to help with errors, it does not hurt to pick up the phone if you have an issue.

With so much misinformation in times like these, it is important to be open to conversation and to at the least, give a chance to student journalists before shooting them down.


Abbey Whittington can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].