The opinions represented in this article do not necessarily represent those of the staff of CUIndependent.com nor any of its sponsors.
As graduating seniors, we’re often asked, “Are you ready to join the real world?” And though the adult responsibilities of mortgages, taxes and 401(k)s are intimidating, both of us can say we are quite ready to jump into the realm of professional journalism thanks to those who have believed in us. But within the University, we have also met resistance.
The finest inspirations in the School of Journalism have been those select individuals who believe in the competence of their students–those who hold us to the highest standards.
That expectation of excellence has served to teach us both practical skills and journalistic principles. They teach us to be idealistic in an industry of hardened cynics and how to be responsible when “the media” becomes harder to trust. We learned from those who trusted us. These are the people who let us fail so we could learn from our mistakes. These are the people who give us responsibilities that we have to own up to. These are the people who go out on a limb to help us better ourselves.
Unfortunately, we found that these people are hard to come by in the SJMC.
As students, and as CU Independent editors-in-chief, we received little support and often outright discouragement from the very people who are supposed to help us grow. Our staff members have been mocked in class, the publication has been threatened and we have seen both CU and the SJMC attempt censorship. It seems that the faculty places little merit on the value of the hands-on experience that has supplemented our formal education.
Encountering faculty members who have little confidence in the abilities of the student media, we can’t help but question the education we’ve paid so dearly for. When our instructors doubt us, we begin to doubt their teaching. Aren’t these the people who are supposed to be transforming us into capable journalists?
Many faculty members have failed to live up to that expectation. Some of our teachers have been life-changing. Others have been hypercritical. While fighting each other and fighting this publication, many have lost sight of their obligation to the students. Protesting the opportunity for practical experience does not serve the students’ best interests. It threatens our careers and stifles the changing face of our industry.
There is a limit to the journalism that can be taught in a classroom. While our faculty has a lot to offer, the best education a student can get is to combine those classes with the opportunity to practice journalism every single day. Through our triumphs, we learned the practical skills that will get us hired, and through our mistakes, we learned the values that will take us to the top.
The SJMC faculty should stand behind their work. If they are teaching us the things we’re supposed to know to be journalists, they should believe in us as we pursue those endeavors. Encourage the students to take every opportunity to learn their trade outside of the classroom, whether it’s through the CU Independent, Sports Mag, Radio 1190 or internships. Faculty, if you taught us well, our work will reflect that. Just trust us.