What I’ve Learned from the Student Paper

by Luke Wildman

I scrape my fingers over my scalp, then turn aching eyes back to my computer monitor. For the next four or so hours, I know my Thursday evening will be a blur of editing articles, brainstorming titles, texting questions to writers, and working with The Echo team to create the best weekly newspaper we’re capable of producing.

Working for The Echo isn’t a coward’s job.

I am the Opinions section editor. To me, this is the most fulfilling job: before I joined The Echo staff, Opinions was the section I read most often. Now that I’m the editor, my job is to find articles that expose readers to different perspectives and lenses for viewing the world. The Opinions section is about empathy and broadmindedness. Those are some of my passions.

Fresh from the press!

Still, this job has challenges.

I’m in my fall semester of senior year, and every week feels like a feeding frenzy. It begins with slow hunger. I plan three weeks in advance to find writers to contribute articles, but I can’t control whether they meet deadlines. When Monday swings around, I get nervous.

Will I receive the article quota? Will a contributor tell me on Wednesday night that he or she can’t complete an assignment? Must I cobble a story together myself, or will the submitted pieces require hours of rewrites?

I hold these factors in mind. As the week progresses—rushing toward Thursday’s frenetic production night—I get nervous. Because it’s like I said: I can work ahead all I want, but some contributors miss deadlines. How did I even wind up with this job?

The author, Luke WIldman

I’ve never been very focused on newspaper work, but I started at The Echo as a copyeditor during spring semester of my junior year. I thought it might help me to find a job in the book-editing field after college. At the end of that semester, however, the editors-in-chief asked me to consider applying to be the Opinions section editor. To be honest, I barely paused to consider before accepting. Like I said, I love the Opinions section. Also, I have the unofficial goal of becoming Liz Syson, the previous (wonderful) section editor. I’m not actually kidding. Liz is so cool.

So I applied for the position and expressed my hopes, one of which is always to run articles from different sides of the same issue, in an interview. I guess the editors-in-chief liked that, because here I am: struggling with a job that’s often stressful, occasionally out of my depth, but constantly rewarding. Helping students to glimpse issues through others’ eyes. Doing what I love.

This job has taught me to work with contributors and staff members, and to stay calm under stress. It forces me to be organized. The work experience should look attractive to future employers, and for that reason, I encourage interested students to apply. But their main motivation should be passion. By taking part in The Echo, our roles—whether as a copyeditor or as editor-in-chief—help to shape and inform our community.

Which makes all the stress worth it.

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