When I decided to come to MNU, one of the first things I did was grab one of the newspapers from Bell Center when I went to a choir concert. I’m not even sure I read the whole thing, to be honest, but right from the beginning I knew that an element of my life was going to be wrapped up in this paper.
At MNU the paper is called The Trailblazer. The print edition comes out roughly three times a semester, and the online version is usually updated every week.
Over the summer I met with the advisor, Melinda Ablard-Smith, for coffee at Starbucks. Nervous, I told her that, despite having little to no journalism experience, I was wanting to potentially write for the school paper.
Melinda was incredibly helpful in answering all of my questions, and she assured me I would be able to sign up for–and fit into my schedule–the class.
Basically, how the newspaper works is students enroll in a class, called Multimedia Workshop, which is a one credit hour class that meets at 6:30 Monday nights. This semester Melinda is teaching a journalism workshops at 5:30, before class, where we all get together, eat good food, get chocolate thrown at us for answering questions, and just generally have a good time together while learning the nuts and bolts of journalism.
The actual Multimedia Workshop class splits into students doing Yearbook or Newspaper, and then the Newspaper students further split into three categories: the editors, the reporters, and the video team. This semester I am a reporter.
At the beginning of the actual Trailblazer class session, Melinda sits down with all three groups and goes over a short journalism lesson, recites a bible verse, asks for prayer requests, and then leads the team in a group prayer. Then she dismisses the video team and turns over the class to the Editor-in-Chief, our fearless leader, Robbie Wegley.
Robbie and Josh (Joshua Brisco, Managing/News Editor) usually talk through some specific things the reporters need to work on (like the fact that I keep forgetting to submit pictures with my stories), talk about some current events both in the world and at the school, and then go through story pitches.
Every week the reporters and the editors turn in story pitches–ideas for stories or topics we think the Trailblazer should cover. In class, Robbie reads through the pitches, asks those who pitched them to expand upon their ideas, and decides which stories make the cut. The stories are then assigned to reporters, who usually have the rest of that week to get the story done and sent to their section editor.
I’ve worked mostly with Josh, for news, and Morgan Peiffer, for life stories. Wyatt Stark edits sports, and Sydney Wright edits opinion pieces. Katie Linsey edits the videos, and Hailey Kendrick is the graphic designer.
When I first started writing stories, I was pretty freaked out. I had never conducted an interview, or wrote any sort of news story before, but the editors really helped me out. If anybody is thinking about being a reporter next semester, I would highly encourage it even if you don’t have any journalism experience. The writing is very different than writing for school papers, or almost any other assignment I’ve been given.
It’s actually a pretty sweet gig, I just get to talk to people about what they’re passionate about, and I help them communicate that passion to people who may not have otherwise been able to hear about it. That’s my favorite way of looking at articles.
For example, I got to talk to people involved in the LQVE Haiti Passion to Serve project for my first article. I got the article done, but I also got to hear their stories about Quincy, their vision for the future, and their passion for what they are doing. I count it as a great privilege.
And of course not all stories are like that, but I have yet to be assigned story that didn’t require me learning something new in order to write it. Yes, it is a lot of hard work, but I have met so many people I never expected to meet.
How many students have sat down for half of an hour and really talked to the Manager of the IT department or the head of Campus Security? They are incredible people who have a lot of passion for their jobs, and they taught me things about their respective departments that I never knew, ways they are serving the school that I would have otherwise overlooked.
It took me out of my comfort zone in a lot of ways, but I think that is what makes it one of my favorite things I do on campus. I am forced to learn in order to continue, and I’m forced to work closely with people if I want anything to get done. In the end getting the paper out is a team effort, and I’m incredibly proud of it.
I also think that having a completely student led newspaper that is allowed to talk about tough subjects, present opposing sides to issues, and investigate the school itself speaks incredibly highly of MNU. It is hard to brag about The Trailblazer without bragging about this school.
And most of all The Trailblazer is just fun…at least for me it is 😉
The people who work for the paper know how to talk to people, know how to tell a good story, and tend to enjoy being around each other. I love hearing everybody’s opinions about topics in class, and I also enjoy listening to them talk about what is happening in their lives and around campus.
Plus you get to experience the hilarity of Josh after class ends, and that’s always fun.