Join the Newspaper and Don’t Become a Reporter

Ashley Campbell, Writer

Lil’ Kickers Chicago is a child development program that uses soccer to build physical and cognitive skills in children 18 months to 9 years old
Lil’ Kickers Chicago is a child development program that uses soccer to build physical and cognitive skills in children 18 months to 9 years old


Okay, so I’m obviously not trying to discourage anyone from following their dreams of becoming the next big name in print media, but I am tired of hearing students dismiss their interest in the Independent because they “don’t want to be a writer” when they grow up.

School newspapers shouldn’t only be valued by aspiring journalists. Whether you’re an accounting major, marketing guru, or soon-to-be gym teacher, working for a school newspaper will grant you a set of skills that can be applied to an array of professions in any given industry.

Prior to graduating and leaving the Independent, I accepted a position with a child development program as their marketing coordinator. I thought to myself, “What the hell are you doing?”
I knew nothing about marketing, let alone how to market to parents, and hadn’t a clue as to how children operate. But, my future employer didn’t care about any of that because they hired a former newspaper editor.

As a newspaper editor, you write a lot of emails. I mean, a lot. You’re staying in touch with your writers and updating your production staff. You’re tracking down sources and following up with interview subjects.

You’re often arranging meetings with people you don’t know, supporting a writer who may be struggling with a pitch or smoothing over a misunderstanding with administration.

My ability to write easily understood messages to my co-workers and partnering organizations has proven to be an invaluable tool. People trust and appreciate a clear and concise message exchange.

As marketing coordinator, I’m also required to prepare social media messages and develop email campaigns. Before the Independent, drafting a simple message to a client would have sent me into a panic attack, but now, I can pump out 3-5 emails in under 20 minutes.

A newspaper is a team of sheer creativity. Ideas are being generated to keep things current and fresh, solutions are developed, and hopefully, thoughtful and informative content is being produced.

Immersing yourself in an environment like that keeps you on your toes. Your mind is on the edge of its seat.

My boss stopped by my desk one day and said, “Hey. I want a blog. Let’s figure out how to do that,” to which I replied, “Okay!” but in my head I was like, “?!?!?!?!?!”
I didn’t know the first thing about creating a blog. Let alone what a child development blog should be like. But, I knew that all I had to do was pool together a couple of co-workers to help bounce my thoughts off of and – BOOM! We had five decent ideas on his desk a day and a half later.
I spent countless nights with my writers, fellow editors and production staff at the Independent coming up with last-minute fill-ins and creative additions to the upcoming issue. Not to mention outlining pitches for my writers to take with them to the next issue.

“I Can Do It” Attitude:
Writing and creativity aside, the Independent provided me with a space to fail, to learn and to fail again. The Independent isn’t perfect and neither are college students.
Learning that you won’t always get things right the first time, or that you may need to scrap an idea and start from scratch are important before entering the work force. Because guess what…you’re going to make mistakes out there, too. Only when those mistakes happen, you’ll have the confidence to try again and not walk away because you’ll have a time when it totally worked out to look back and reflect on.

I could write 1,000 more words crediting the Independent for how well I’m doing at my current job, but my hope is that NEIU students see some value in the ones I’ve mentioned above, and maybe even consider checking out a meeting.
I’m not a novelist. I’m not writing for the Tribune or even freelancing (yet), but I’m 24 years old and managing content and promotional efforts for a company that has a dozen locations across the city of Chicago. And, most importantly, I love it.

Isn’t that what we all want when we graduate anyway?