By Courtney Klaus, Editor-In-Chief
I love Newman. I think you can reasonably assume that already, based on the loud crimson and blue lanyard I wear everyday, my eagerness to talk to prospective students and my perfect attendance record for Jet Friday.
However, as a reporter for the school paper, I’ve found that sometimes that love is called into question.
So, allow me to set the record straight right now: Yes, I’m a student journalist, and yes, I love my university. And, for some reason may it be a personal impulse or the pressure of the current political discourse - I feel I need to make that clear. And, I’ve started to learn as I’ve grown up that these two statements do not have to be contradictory. On the contrary, I would assert that they’re complementary.
No, I haven’t had anyone say to my face that I was some sort of “enemy of the students,” nor have I heard anyone in administration use the term “fake news” to describe any of the articles I’ve written. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally feel a disconnect between the face of Newman I’m supposed to be and the student reporter I need to be.
Sometimes these two positions feel like a yin and yang, two parts working together to form what my identity here is. But, sometimes they also feel like a fox and a hound, cut from the same cloth but forced to fight.
What’s the difference between journalism and public relations?
Sometimes, the journalist has to report on things that are critical.
It’s a journalist’s job to present the facts, warts and all. And, sometimes, unsurprisingly, people would prefer we left out the warts.
As I’ve spent the past three years observing how an institution works, and how hard the people within the institution work, I get it.
I understand why it’s uncomfortable to address a high school senior taking their first look at Newman, who picks up a student newspaper that says on the front page something like “Students hold protest for artistic freedom” or “Med school acceptance statistics may be misleading.”
I myself wrestle with the implications. What would I dare to say, dressed in my student ambassadors uniform, confronted by a prospective student with an article I wrote, and asked to explain: “What do you make of this? Why should I still come here?”
When I first imagined this scenario, I didn’t think it was possible to address such a thing honestly and comfortably. I’d be forced to pick side of myself- defend my writing or defend the school.
But, it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s not until recently that I recognized that life, loyalty and the truth is more complicated than that.
If I had to confront such a situation, I’d probably say something like this:
“There no such thing as a perfect school. To be brutally honest, no matter where you decide to go, if you do a little digging, you’re going to find something you’re not going to like. But, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad school. Trust me, I’ve disagreed with some aspects of this university quite a few times. But, there’s no place else I’d rather be, because it’s this school that taught me how to think critically, how to express myself, and how to be a voice of change. That’s why I feel comfortable writing the things I do. Because I don’t write for the paper from a place of frustration with Newman. I write for the paper from a place of love for it.”
I think many journalists around the country must come from a place of love. Why else would we care so much about finding out what’s going on? Why waste so much time trying to hold the powerful accountable?
Journalists are not inherently negative people. We don’t like exposing the bad for the sake of destruction. We aren’t amoral gossips intent on starting controversy for the sake of controversy. We are not dishonest, and we certainly aren’t the “enemy of the people.”
And, I think it’s important, especially now, that we take a second to remember that.
So, with all that said, the truth has nothing to fear from me, warts and all - though it may not always be the easiest way to keep your hard-pass.