1. Get paid. This is the most obvious reason and the first one that many college students pick up on, so I put it at the top. After three published articles, you will get paid $10 for every article you have written. Staff writers can earn even more and are currently guaranteed at least $350 at the end of the semester. For those who qualify through financial aid, there is also the option to be a work study for The Sandspur.
2. Get published. When you get a job in the real world, employers like to see real world experience. If you have any interest in following a career that involves writing, clips of your published articles in a real newspaper will go a long way. On top of the portfolio value, there is always the chance that your article may get picked up or mentioned by a local or even national news source, which can create a national exposure for your writing (hopefully for the right reasons).
3. Learn lifelong skills. While this may sound cheesy, it is true. My high school did not have enough funding to have a newspaper, so I never obtained journalism experience until I wrote my first few free-lance articles for The Sandspur last semester.
I picked up the basics and taught myself the things I did not know: how to conduct an interview, talking to people I do not know, keeping articles factual and yet appealing to the reader, and basic research and investigative reporting techniques. These same skills will be useful in any career I follow that involves working with people.
4. Great connections. Through my articles, I have interviewed everyone from randomly involved students to President Duncan. I have gotten to know people in many departments, and I have formed connections that have helped me in various other activities as well.
5. Put your opinions out there for the world to critique. You may not always agree with the responses, but if you write an opinion piece, you are likely to get a comment or two on your viewpoints. Constructive criticism helps you improve your writing in a newspaper just as much as it helps you improve your writing in the classroom. Sometimes that critique can be all you need to start researching something you did not know you were passionate about.
6. Learn how to improve your writing. If you write consistently, your writing skills start to improve simply by realizing what works and what does not work. Whether you are simply figuring out how an article should flow or how to follow AP Style guidelines, your writing skills are guaranteed to get better the more you write.
7. Make a difference in your campus community. When you write for a paper, people will listen to what you have to say. With this new power comes the responsibility to write with accuracy and as much fact to backup your story as possible. You can use your words to tell people how it really is at Rollins — whether by talking about the discrepancy in C-Store prices vs. Walmart prices or how students really feel about their advisors.
8. Your voice will be heard. Similar to the last reason, but a little different — if you have an opinion about an issue and can convey it well and accurately in words, you can use a school newspaper to make a real change in the campus community and the world around you. Letters to the Editor in The Sandspur in years past have changed the school mascot from a live donkey to the Tommy Tar we know today, as well as changed the school’s color from the original rose-pink oleander to blue and gold in 1895.
9. Feel for a real-world job. Although things are a little different as a journalist in the “real-world,” The Sandspur is a publishing newspaper. You will be interviewing, researching and writing just as you would be for a real newspaper, magazine or other publication. This practice can help you learn if you have found the perfect job or one that you want to avoid forever.
10. It’s a hell of a lot of fun. Last but not least, working for The Sandspur is a blast. Whether simply spending a few hours in the office getting to know new people or understanding inside jokes — like why the paper turned into The Sandpurrr for April Fool’s Day — The Sandspur is guaranteed to be a lot of fun.
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