The Sun Star: It's worth it

Elika Roohi/Sun Star Editor-in-Chief
April 16, 2013

About a month ago, I managed to secure some funding to attend the regional Society of Professional Journalists conference. And last weekend, I got to go to Spokane, Wash. and bring home some first place awards for The Sun Star.

The year is quickly ending. The Sun Star Publication Board just selected next year’s Editor-in-Chief. Congratulations are in order for Lakeidra Chavis, the current copy editor. I feel confident leaving the paper in her more than capable hands.

This job can feel like constantly treading water. Getting to compare notes with other student journalists in Spokane this weekend on tips and tricks from a multitude of different campus papers reminded me that all the water you end up choking on is totally worth it.

It’s bittersweet to start wrapping up my year as editor (especially because there’s not enough time to implement the plan I came up with this weekend to introduce regular video coverage to the Sun Star’s website).

Every editor complains about the long hours, apathetic student body and well-meaning-but-sometimes-troublesome staff. Across the board of other student newspaper reporters and editors I talked to, it was the same story: Long weekend hours, a budget right on the line and a testy student government. I could have sworn they were talking about UAF.

But across the board, everyone in this position does it because they think it’s worth it.

If SPJ’s Northwest conference did anything, it got me jazzed up about student journalism. The conference itself has some fascinating panels and discussions, but connecting with students in the same position as myself really helped to put what we do at the Sun Star in perspective.

And by far the most rewarding part of my job is watching reporters and photographers get better at what they do.

If you’re a regular Sun Star reader you know what I’m talking about. The freshman reporters that show up in the office every week and turn something in? Yeah, give them a semester’s worth of publishing work and all of sudden they’re starting to get really good.

I’m a journalism student, but most of the staff of the Sun Star is not. Interestingly enough, that’s the way it usually works out.

We’ve all been students for a while. The way this whole education thing works is that you get to study your field from the safety of a classroom without ever having to cover your hands with newspaper toner. We discuss idealistic newsrooms in my classes sometimes, taking an hour to decide why we would not use this specific example of bad writing in our paper.

What I like about working at the Sun Star is that it’s gritty and imperfect and real. It gives me a place to make mistakes. So yeah, sometimes I run the bad writing.

In my opinion, the whole reason student organizations exist is to give interested students an outlet. Passionate about social action? Nice, join a LIVE office program. Think music is cool? Sweet, volunteer at KSUA. Aspiring writer or photographer? Well, that’s where I can help you. This is where you can learn.

The weekend’s conference reminded me of all of this. Well, that, plus, I learned a lot about the importance of video content.

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