By MARISSA YOUNG
It isn’t easy being a student journalist. At times, it can feel like no one takes you seriously. No one except your professors, that is, meaning you have to turn in high quality work with often not-so-high quality resources.
When I try to contact sources, especially professionals, I know that I am not their first priority. Last year, when I was writing an article about Red Mango, I was lucky enough to be able to speak to the company’s founder via e-mail. After several correspondences, though, he stopped responding to my e-mails. I already had sufficient information to write my article, so I didn’t press the issue, but I did feel like I had been forgotten about because I wasn’t writing for some high profile magazine. I completely understand this, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating.
At least I got to speak to him. As a student journalist, it is exponentially harder to contact anyone of importance. These individuals cater to people who can boost their reputations, give them a business edge, or give them major publicity. If you’re writing an article for only one set of eyes, you can count most of these sources out.
Sometimes, people won’t speak to you because you are merely a student. However, the opposite can also be true. Many times, I have noticed that sources are more willing to comply because I am “only” a student journalist. Most people I talk to actually prefer not to be featured in a newspaper or on a website and often the selling point to quote them is that the only person reading an article is my teacher.
Then there are the people who are nice, the people who are probably nicer to you because you are a student journalist. They understand your obstacles and limitations, and are eager to help you, for one reason or another. Maybe they are just genuinely nice people, or perhaps they were student journalists themselves.
Being a student journalist has its ups and downs, but they are necessary lessons to fully prepare for the trials and experiences of being a professional journalist.