Thursday, January 17th, 2019

Let me tell you about last Monday

Krysteana Scribner | The Free Press

Posted on February 01, 2016 in Letter From The Editor, Perspectives
By Krysteana Scribner

Three weeks into the semester and I’m still, miraculously, feeling organized and focused. At this point, I would normally be so overwhelmed I could be found hiding in a pile of blankets eating stale doritos, but for now I’m doing alright.

This is our second issue for the spring semester. So far, we’ve covered a variety of content and worked in various media platforms to ensure our content is seen by as many eyes as possible. As student journalists, we’re always learning new ways to better both our skills and our paper.

Last Monday, our team hosted a table over in Woodbury Campus Center and tried recruiting students – what happened that day opened my eyes to how some people on campus view our organization and has since changed my ways of thinking drastically.

We had one person come up to our table and hastily grab an issue, muttering under their breath profanities about how our writing is “trash.” Every staff member at our table felt hurt by this unnecessary and malicious comment. As the editor, I was hurt by it. So of course, I approached that person as they tried to walk away.

“We’re student journalists who are always learning and trying our best to become better,” I said. I was frustrated, unsure as to why someone would come up to our table and intentionally put us all down in such a way. “What can I do better to stop you from saying such hurtful things about us?”

This person claimed that we do not cover enough LGBTQ, multicultural or religious topics on campus, and when we do, we get them all wrong. “When you do write about them, you hide them on page four or something, where no one will see them and they doesn’t matter,” the person said. “You also have such obvious errors in your paper. I used to like reading this a few years ago, but now it’s just awful.”

I breathed. I paused. I thought carefully about what I was going to say next. Every bone in my body told me to walk away, because no one likes confrontation at such a harsh and demoralizing level; to hear someone say such hateful statements without knowing or recognizing how hard we work made me furious, but I stood my ground and said exactly what I should have.

“You’re right about our copy-editing errors,” I stated, my body continuing to shake for reasons I wasn’t sure of. “We don’t have many copy editors, and the people who do look at content are some of the most hardworking people I know, and they already juggle so many other responsibilities. We just need more copy editors.”

In regards to highlighting minorities on campus, I thought back and tried to recollect the times we had covered such topics. Didn’t we recently write about those topics and highlight these issues? I felt we had, but could think of no example.

“We don’t hide it inside the newspaper,” I stated. “It just simply felt more appropriate to placed in Arts & Culture, or Community – but I see where you’re coming from. I see your point of view. I understand your frustration.”

For the first time in my life, I felt empowered by the kindness of my own words. In no way was I rude, in no way did I make this person feel like their opinion wasn’t valid. They had brought to my attention something that everyone is probably thinking – we need to be better and we need to have more subject matter on those who feel marginalized.

I will say this: We’re working to recruit more students to copy edit. We are trying to get a variety of interesting and unique people to join our team. We’re working harder than ever to be the campus newspaper that everyone respects and relies on for information – but we are most certainly not writing garbage.

We cover controversial changes on campus, student accomplishments and local art and theatre events. We write about USM events and highlight the importance of relevant topics happening throughout our campus and the world today. The Free Press staff, my staff, are so motivated to learn and grow that comments like these only make us stronger.

So please, send your commentary to us through Good or bad. Criticism, whether intended to be constructive or not, will only push our staff further in our attempt provide journalism that is thorough and insightful.

In the end, all we can do is accept these statements and make change where needed – but it cannot happen without the voices of USM.


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