The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Parting words from senior journalist and Daily Campus editor

The best decision of my college career was joining the staff of this newspaper. It started with an email in September 2007, asking then-News Editor Steve Thompson if I could write for this esteemed college paper.

I espoused my many fine attributes, not realizing that my competition was far less stiff than I was imagining it to be. I thought there’d be dozens of writers waiting to get in the door (more like 15 altogether, and most of them didn’t write a single story).

But since that time, I’ve come to realize a lot of things. Among them is the fact that college journalists are amazing. Like our readers, we’ve got term papers and tests and reading assignments. But we’ve also got that interview with President Turner at 11 a.m., and then that story about Peruna for Wedne—HOLY CRAP! FONDREN SCIENCE HAS FLOODED!

College journalists have to juggle school and work—work that is often unpredictable and causes them to sometimes skip class (not that I ever did this; I was a *cough* model student *cough*). We’re often on a first-name basis with many of the school’s administrators, but we can’t be afraid to challenge them on the important issues. We’ve got a responsibility to inform our readers about what’s going on at SMU, even if they scorn us for not exactly writing stories favorable to the university or mock us for the many typos we print.

It’s an underappreciated job, which may explain why we’re always continuously understaffed.

So as I prepare to end my four years at SMU, I want to say thanks. Thanks to our readers who continually demanded excellence. Thanks to the readers who read what we printed and then used their freedom of speech to write us back. Thanks to those readers who only picked up a copy of the paper so that you could do the crossword puzzle in your math class.

Thanks to all of the people I have worked with at this amazing place. Together we’ve built a damned good newspaper.

And because I’ve invested way too much of myself in this place, here’s some advice for future staffers:

Sometimes you just have to say no. You can’t be a people-pleaser in this business. It doesn’t work. You can’t print every story that someone sends your way. You can’t hire everyone that applies for a job. If it’s a badly written article, send it back for further work. Set the bar high and you’ll produce a better paper.

Professors and advisors are great, but you’re the one putting this paper together. Go to them for advice, listen to what they say, but don’t be afraid to disagree if you’ve got a different perspective (as long as it’s an intelligent one, mind you). They’re here to help, not make all the decisions.

Familiarize yourself with the Student Press Law Center. Seriously, if you’re a college journalist who doesn’t know what the SPLC does, then I’d suggest some personal introspection.

Demand transparency. SMU is a private university, which means they get to conceal a lot of information that public universities don’t (such as Board of Trustee meetings). Students deserve to know what their university is doing behind closed doors. Those doors may not always be opened, but at least the rest of the campus will realize what their university isn’t telling them.

Don’t become the University bulletin board. This was the conclusion of the best editorial I’ve ever read, which was a brief on censorship in 1936 by this very paper. An except follows:

“Our elders have said, with regard to censorship, that it is the only feasible plan as we youngsters go berzerk at the slightest provocation. We run amuck just to be running amuck, they say, and drag family skeletons out of the closet and shake them until the poor bones rattle. We probe and pry and peek and make general nuisances of ourselves. The relationship between the university administration and the university newspaper, say our elders, should be the same as that between a publisher and an editor.

The difference lies here: The publisher of a newspaper has the interests of that paper at heart, whereas the administration of a university has not the paper’s interests, but its own as its first consideration. A newspaper under the censoring blue-pencil of a university is likely to suffer curtailment. Good publicity for the university would naturally be put before all else regardless of truth. Inevitably the newspaper would degenerate into nothing but a university bulletin.”

Meredith Shamburger has served as online editor, editor in chief, news editor and staff writer of The Daily Campus. She is a senior majoring in journalism. She can be reached for comments or questions at [email protected].

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