A year in journalism
It would seem that when things start to reach an end, we tend to think about the beginning and the long journey that it has been. That’s how I feel as this school year comes to an end, and how day by day, life is seemingly returning to normal. While I had intended to make this article much like a personal reflection on everything that I’ve learned about life over the past school year, I felt that I couldn’t fit everything I wanted to say into one article. So instead, I’m dedicating my last article to journalism as a class because I need to show my appreciation somehow, and, oh boy, has it been a very good class.
A picture is worth a thousand words; 1001 words is worth more than a picture. While the former does put into perspective the significance and weight that a visible image holds, the latter makes sure to not let the value of writing remain understated. Being a staff writer for the journalism team came with the unique privilege of having freedom in what you write, and how you write it. It was through expressing with typed out words on several Google documents that I picked up on many valuable concepts.
This is what I learned from one year in journalism.
“The Uncelebrated Impacts of Arm Wrestling”, my very first journalism article, was meant to be something of a documentary, documenting its history and a small role in society. Instead, my article took a different turn, paying more attention to arm wrestling’s symbol of victory and competitiveness topped with questionable humor and satire. But the part of the article that mattered most to me was my recollection of memories of friends and peers arm wrestling with each other, bantering, and just having a good time. In hindsight, I had probably embedded these anecdotes into my article because I had missed my friends and their company and needed a way to put those emotions out somewhere. Journalism, being the class that is generous in the freedom it gives to its members, allowed me to pour my hidden feelings onto pages, albeit subconsciously so. From my very first article, I had learned to let yourself be as expressive as you can be because in doing so, you end up understanding yourself more and you just feel better overall.
Later on, I would reach an extremely stale part of the school year. Granted, the pandemic and online class already made life repetitive and murdered all motivation from the start of the first semester. But after several months of school, eat, procrastinate, rush, sleep, and repeat, I was fed up. So in an effort to fix my bad habits, even if only by a little, I tried to boost my productivity, and while thinking up a pitch for my next journalism assignment, a thought had dawned on me. If I’m trying to help myself, why not help others while I’m at it? And so that’s what I set out to do in my article “Procrastination, Sun Tzu, and You” where I talk about combatting procrastination. Without getting into the nitty-gritty of that article, and while I do not believe that the article is capable of curing you of your procrastination tendencies, I think it’s a good place to start as I urge my readers to try to understand themselves and why they procrastinate. Now, here’s my takeaway: the intentions of an article are just as significant as the content of the article itself. If your goal is to teach, inspire, inform, or entertain others through your written works, then that gives it much more purpose than writing it for an empty grade. And the same goes for anything else that you do; if you are serving others and trying to impact and influence them positively, then that must speak well of you. We all live together in this world, so it makes a huge difference if we do things with each other in mind.
Finally, I wanted to discuss the journalism team’s work attitude. On multiple occasions in our Zoom meetings I have heard the phrase “The work is the fun.” It’s become much like a motto for the class, and I’m glad it’s that way. Initially, I found the statement somewhat ridiculous because I usually don’t associate “work” with “fun”, but the liberty to write about what you are passionate about really did make me love the process. And Mr. Hicks and the board members would always stress that this was an elective class, so it should feel more like one than say a serious English class where you are trying to earn high school credits and meet A-G requirements. As long as you communicated if you needed extensions on your assignments, the people in charge remained flexible about things which definitely takes out a lot of unwanted stress, and for that, I’m grateful.
While the satisfaction you get from completing your article and having it get published is enough for a reward, there was more than just that. After most monthly articles are submitted and starting to get posted on erscream.com, the tradition seems to be a celebratory Zoom meeting where members are praised for their hard work and it just ends up being a free period where you can play Minecraft or something. It seems that as we all get older, life gets busier and busier, and so taking the time to sit back and be proud of what you’ve done seems to happen less frequently. At least for me. This is why journalism’s notion that the work should be fun, less stressful, and admired sticks out as a main shining point for the class.
Now, I’ve learned much, much more than what I’ve covered. However, I feel that saying everything I wish to say would drag things out and kind of muddle my message. Journalism has been a fantastic and memorable experience; I do regret not being able to be in it on campus. To the staff writers, photographers, artists, broadcast team, proofreaders, editors, publishers, and board members: earnest thanks for all your great efforts in producing such impressive work. And of course, earnest thanks to the one and only Mr. Hicks. Keep doing what you’re doing, everyone.