What I told next year’s co-editors of The Record

I never could have expected the twists that this year yanked me through as our school newspaper’s editor. But at the same time, as I disembark the rollercoaster, I find myself with a nugget of wisdom that I passed on to next year’s co-editors. Read what I wrote here. (The version below is edited.) 

“YOU. EDITOR IN CHIEF.

Here’s a few of my (Kirkland An, 15-16) personal thoughts on the editor in chief position.

You have a limited amount of time each week. Think about how you can see yourself spending that time, and make sure that a chunk of it is dedicated to The Record.

If we’re being completely honest, there aren’t a lot of people who are dying to become journalists, at least not people who are attending Wheaton. It’s a liberal arts school, and journalism students are pre-professional. So that means that you are among the few. You’re also probably going to be the person at The Record who is the most passionate about journalism and The Record.

Think about that over the course of the year — and realize that however passionate you are, the rest of your staff is likely just as passionate or less. That can be good or bad. Make sure that you are conveying that journalism is something that is worth pursuing, and that journalism at Wheaton is something that needs to be protected.

Out of courtesy and well-meaning, I say that you should get a lot of sleep, but if I’m being completely honest, if you’re getting 8 hours a night, you’re probably not doing it right. If you want The Record to be as good as it can be, then you should probably be losing sleep over it.

Here’s the bottom line: Be competitive. Pursue perfection, even to the point where the other editors in the office at 3 a.m. are rolling their eyes as you go over the issue for the 15th time. Hopefully, when we have complete online capabilities, you’ll be racing other publications to break college news (because let’s face it, Wheaton College is now a phenomenon of national importance). Recognize who your competition is, and try to beat them.

Fight for journalistic freedom. Know your rights. Read SPLC’s website, which lays out a lot of really good guidelines for you to follow. When push comes to shove, you should have a good foundational knowledge of journalism so that you can push back.

Let me add in the Christianese here at the end.

If you’re fighting for truth and pursuing excellent journalism, you’ll find that you’re glorifying God. We speak truth in love. (I tried to convince some people this year that Ephesians 4:15 should be our motto, but to no avail.) When the campus is well-informed, we are doing our duty as student journalists. When we love the campus enough, we empower them to form their opinions. That’s the power of student journalism at Wheaton.

And now I leave you with some inspirational journalism quotes.

“Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” -Thomas Jefferson

“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” — Voltaire (This quote is especially good for the opinion editors to know.)

“In times of profound change, the learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” — Eric Hoffer (This one is especially poignant as we advance The Record through tough technological shifts.)

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