As a rising junior I have been selected as the new Student Life editor for next fall! Unfortunately I can’t remain an editor for the following spring because I’ll be studying abroad in Italy. From my two years as being a report for The Elm, I’ve learned a lot. Not just about AP Style, but also about getting a story to be a fair, informative, and catching brief of what happened. Here are some tips I have for any aspiring reporter for The Elm (and beyond):
Be honest - I tend to write a lot of the crime pieces for The Elm, which requires a writer that is trustworthy. My sources know me as an honest writer that is not going to blow the story out of proportion and this is key. Over the two years I’ve been on staff I’ve developed a list of people I can always go to for griping quotes and accurate information and in turn they come to me with the stories. Jerry Roderick, director of Public Safety, is always emailing me ideas for what the Elm should cover and I have a close working relationship with the Chief of Chestertown Police Department, because he knows I won’t butcher the story.
There is no such thing as using the word “alleged” too much. In these crime pieces I often feel as though I overuse the word alleged, but in reality there’s no such thing. With the sensitive topic of all of these pieces it’s important that you never ever accuse someone when they haven’t been formally charged. It’s not fair to assume that the person reporting the crime is always telling the truth. All of this comes back to making sure that you’re just telling the hard facts, not adding any of your own bias.
Make yourself known as a reporter. When your friends know you write for the Elm they will tell you all the woes and joys about WC and in turn you’ll find some awesome stories. Always keep your ears and eyes open.
Do not piss off Melissa. The Elm advisor, Melissa, is a little scary when she’s mad. Although she’s never been mad at me, I’ve seen her get quite furious at other writers and let me tell you, you don’t want to be in their shoes. That being said, follow the rules and you’ll be fine.
Follow “the rules”. I say this, but yet there’s not a lot of rules. Basically honesty is key. This and turn in your article on time. Don’t make up stuff and submit it to your editors on time. Do this and you will be ok.
Always say yes! Sometimes I end up writing three stories in one week, but that’s ok because I am getting the experience I need to be successful one day. When some one asks me to do a really high-profile piece (for WAC’s standards) about mold making people sick, of course I said yes! If you do need a week off, however, give your editors at least one weeks notice.