It is tough to know what to make of these students.
They are, in part, throwbacks — devotees of a medium that most of
their schoolmates rarely use other than an occasional Sudoku during a
tiresome lecture. The Collegian’s staffers love the look, feel and even
the smell of the newspapers for which their laptop-browsing friends
mock them for skipping classes to produce.
They’re idealists — believers, still, in the power of the press to change the world.
And they’re risk-takers — opting out of steadier careers in sciences
or finance, say, because they want to report the news in a paper made
out of trees and delivered by trucks, even if their readers are mainly
old folks like professors and parents. Downsizing be damned, they say
about the print newspaper industry. If the ship is going down, they
tell me, somebody has to go down with it.
“What, are you crazy?” I asked them Monday, the first day of their five-day training.
“Nope,” said Alexandra Sieh, 21. “We’re just in love with the print process.”
Sieh grew up reading the Rocky Mountain News, critiquing its content
and noticing the way it was laid out so carefully. Now, as the
Collegian’s design editor, she is honing a craft that some day may be
as impractical as book binding and as anachronistic as learning ancient
“I feel like there’s an expiration date on this skill,” she said.
Samantha Baker had planned a bioengineering major when she took her
first shot as a Collegian photographer. She was hooked. It wasn’t easy
coming out of the closet about her journalistic leanings.
“For a while, my family was like, ‘Oh, it’s just a hobby, you’ll get over it and go back to engineering,’ ” she said.
Well, I know what to make of them. They’re fucking heroic and we should all take a lesson, not just in that print is still very much alive and even, in many places, well (the piece short-sellsdead-tree newspaper readership on college campuses by a mile). But in that acting tired and bored and over it and cynical, and investing more time in figuring out how to “monetize the Internet” or any number of idiotic things we spend time studying today than in teaching people who want to learn is goddamn wasted. The newspaper industry criticism industry would do well to pay much, much more attention to what these people have to say, which is by and large fuck your noise and your defeatism and your can’t-be-done-totally-impossible attitude and we’ll be over here DOING STUFF if you don’t mind. The world is always ending.
Madeline Novey had mapped out a career
as a chiropractor when she enrolled at CSU three years ago. A chemistry
class changed her mind. Now she’s editor in chief of the Collegian,
running a newsroom of 60 journalists.
“We have the privilege of getting to step into people’s lives,
learning about what’s important to them and how to change a community,”
she told me.
Like every other print journalist I know, she’s worried — even at age 20 — about the future of her craft.
Someday, she knows, the ink will run out.
And instead of sitting around sighing and bitching, she’s getting up and going to work. God. Imagine that.