Journalism: Enrolling, persisting, learning
Writer Stephan Melendez, '13.
Journalism requires people who are dedicated, responsible and have a passion for writing. Being a journalist involves working outside of your comfort zone, which presents opportunities to gain self-confidence and self-esteem. With all these aspects considered, why would someone sign up for Publications?
Having been in the class for almost two semesters now, there is no doubt in my mind that journalism has and will continue to help me in many ways.
One day I hope to become the president of a large company and, although English is not my greatest strength, I will need great orating and writing abilities. For a long time, my peers advised me to join journalism to help improve my writing and English skills.
After contemplating the big decision about enrolling, I came to the final resolution of joining a constantly criticizing work environment. I knew the reward was greater than negative evaluations since The Feather is nationally recognized with two Gold Crowns from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, among other awards.
Within the first few weeks of registering, I was assigned to my first article -- a nerve-wracking task due to my lack of experience. I was in shock with all that the editors and adviser Greg Stobbe asked of me; the expectations were to turn in articles in a timely manner, put in links, provide pictures for my work and, most importantly, not to make the same mistake twice.
I was able to complete my first article with help from alumna Sydney Ray, '10, who came in for a few days to assist new students with their writing. Ray taught me the ropes of becoming a superior journalist and what it really takes to write a quality article. She gave me the specifics of writing a good introduction and helped me to be creative when asking questions in interviews. After completing the piece, she left and I felt insecure again, like a baby wanting my blanket to protect myself from the editors' daunting corrections.
Soon after, I was assigned a harder article with a time limit attached. Unfortunately I panicked, and was unable to turn it in on time because I couldn't finish fast enough. At times I was unable to meet deadlines, and ended up scrambling to finish the mandatory 10 articles before the first semester ended. Only nine were published.
Despite improving slightly and turning in 90 percent of my articles, I was still unsatisfied, and so were others. Editor-in-Chief Austin Ward, '11, and many of the other editors gave me this advice: "Next semester, work more adequately."
I was not going to let the failed articles determine my future in journalism or what I could accomplish if I were to continue in the class.
"Journalism is teaching me to work diligently under pressure, and especially to accept criticism; I am not perfect and should always seek improvement." --Stephan Melendez, '13
During the second semester I needed to learn to take down my wall of pride and ask both editors and the peers for help, even if that meant getting criticized to my breaking point. Unlike my first semester self, which was shy and scared to ask questions, I knew I was unable to continue writing on my own and that I required someone to help when I needed it the most.
Knowing that the critique would hurt, I needed to endure it so that I could become a better writer. With patient assistance from Reviews Editor Mary Hierholzer, '12, I was able to improve in all areas of my writing.
Another individual who always reassured me was Senior Editor Ashley Ward, '11. She was there when I wanted to quit, and comforted me, telling me that I could succeed in my endeavors as long as I worked diligently. Ashley took much time to help write and perfect my articles -- something she did not have to do. She told me to learn from my mistakes and not to repeat them.
Now that I have been in journalism for almost a full school year, I have noticed that I have excelled in my English writing and the way I speak to people. Journalism is teaching me to work diligently under pressure, and especially to accept criticism; I am not perfect and should always seek improvement.
Since every day is a learning process for me, I apply what Stobbe has taught me in all my essays. Aside from giving me basic motivation as my journalism adviser, he has taught me to learn from my mistakes, which helped me to receive my first A in an English class last semester. Although it's been difficult, journalism has been a huge learning experience in my life that I do not regret.
I will continue working on The Feather and will write the best I can so that I don't make the same mistakes I made before. Journalism taught me that when life sets an obstacle before you, ask for help so you can learn how to overcome your hardship.
The pros of journalism include learning how to improve in English, familiarizing yourself with approaching people to interview, writing about challenging subjects and developing a team mentality. Difficult aspects of journalism are often criticized, such as working under pressure and stepping outside of your comfort zone. Journalism has both positives and negatives, but you are ultimately rewarded after enrolling, persisting and learning.
For more columns on experiences in journalism, read the Feb. 24 article, Journalism develops sophomore's team mentality.