Editorial: the importance of student media


Leah Van Weelden

Student media publications, like the Baker Orange are very important to spreading new ideas and perspectives around the community.

Preparation for a job in the media field, specifically news media, most often includes prior experience as a student journalist at either the high school or college level. While a student publication may not receive the same level of attention, student media serves a great purpose not only to students but to their community.

A professional journalist’s duty is to keep an eye on what’s going on in the world around them. Press and news media are often referred to as “the fourth estate,” meaning they act as the fourth branch of government to inform, educate and entertain the public.

Some people argue it’s an outdated term as trust in the media is on the decline. But for a scholastic setting, student media can service not just its staff members, but their campus and also their college town.

Student journalism gives aspiring reporters a safe environment to hone their skills and learn how to be ethical journalists. Being a full-time student can be difficult when the time comes to report on tough issues. On a small campus, everybody knows who you are and conflict of interest is tough. But it still gives a place for students to learn without the risk of losing their job.

Student news media can also act as “watchdogs” and hold the university accountable with investigative reporting. Even if their focus is often kept on their college town, student media reports information that readers may not seek out on their own. For example, the Baker Orange reported on the university’s decision to cut four majors, two minors and 18 faculty and staff positions as well as a petition by alumni for better transparency surrounding the issue.

They can bring attention to important issues and provide the community an opportunity to learn more about the people living in it. For example, last semester, a writer for the Orange wrote a piece regarding their experience with coming to terms with their sexuality and coming out. This semester, Orange reporter Colbie Fairley interviewed a group of Black student-athletes about their experience playing at a predominantly White university. A story does not need to be news to be “newsworthy.” It can help introduce new ideas and perspectives to people who may not have known.

But a student news organization does not need to be breaking a big story or talking about a heavy subject to have an impact on their community. Some college towns are small enough that they may not have a regularly published newspaper. So the campus newspaper may become the town newspaper and can bring attention to local events. Reporters can cover the new coffee shop opening up in town to help get them on students’ radars or they can write a preview of the theater’s newest production.

Student media report information that readers may not seek out on their own. Whether that’s reporting on a global issue and connecting it back to campus or presenting new and interesting information pertaining to their own campus life, it is vitally important to college campuses. There is no better place for ideas to be shared among many different life experiences and to bring a community together.

The Baker Orange news, radio and video workshops are open
for any student from any area of campus to join, making it a unique opportunity for students to explore their talents and interests even if mass media is not their major. Whether you did newspaper since middle school or never held a camera in your hands, there is a place for your voice here.