Surviving the Missourian

This blog post comes to you from my very last GA shift. I wrote about a sodomist/rapist/kidnapper/robber before 10 a.m. (what a way to start the day) and now I’m waiting for another story to come up while I cram for my final History of American Journalism exam.

It’s pretty unbelievable that the semester is drawing to a close. After today, I will no longer be a reporter at the Columbia Missourian. I’ve done a lot of work I’m really proud of, made great friends, and got to work with experienced editors who helped me identify my weaknesses and work to improve them. This semester seemed never-ending at times, but now that it’s done it has flown by.

I never wanted to come to the Missourian. I resented the publication because I had to pay a ton of money to practically be used as free labor, and it was mandatory. I put my heart and soul into The Maneater as a writer, columnist and editor because I wanted to be there, not because I was forced to. But honestly, working at the Missourian has been an experience I’ve come to value. It wasn’t like I thought it would be.

Here are some things that surprised me:

  1. Your fellow reporters become your support system

I would say I’m a competitive person. Ever since I was little I wanted to be the best at everything. As I began working at the Missourian, I thought my fellow reporters would be competing against each other, that those lagging behind would be envious of those who were doing well and that those leading the pack would be full of themselves.

Turns out, I’m also a very cynical person.

The community of the newsroom was one similar to what I had experienced at The Maneater — everyone supported each other, helped each other out with stories and contacting sources, vented to each other about journo struggles, invited groups to the Heidelberg to destress after covering emotionally challenging stories. Instead of pitting people against each other, the Missourian brought us together.

2. The editors are sometimes scary, but they’re also really cool

Ever since my freshman year I had heard horror stories about some of the editors that turned out to not be true at all. Yes, sometimes they’re harsh and intimidating, especially when it comes to editing, but they’re also pretty great humans. Sometimes they’ll do yoga with you in the newsroom after a long, hard news day. Sometimes they’ll open budget with a bad joke or two or six. On Halloween, they might have witch cackling contests.

3. Big breaking news stories are exciting

Mizzou made national news this semester with the hunger strike and #ConcernedStudent1950 that ultimately led to the UM System President and MU Chancellor resigning in the same day. For baby student journalists, covering this was just about as exciting/stressful/scary/daunting/fun as it could get.

The newsroom was bustling, free food from alumni cluttered desks, phones were ringing, journalists from the New York Times and CNN and ESPN and the LA Times were flocking to campus. People were working on several stories, contributing and collaborating with one another to sort out the chaos. It was the time of my life.

4. Alumni send food

Getting three free meals a day from proud alumni = the happiest of days.

5. You will definitely cry

Please, please, please, don’t forget to take care of yourself and put your health first. This is very important.

You’ll be tired and stressed and there is a 100 percent chance that you will cry when your editor tells you your story is all over the place or a source doesn’t get back to you and you miss your deadline, but remember: the Missourian experience is what you make of it.

Don’t take the critiques you receive personally. If a story doesn’t work out, it does not mean that you are a terrible journalist. All of us are still learning. If you go in positive, open to learning and looking to grow as a journalist, you’ll do wonderfully. And to those who will be entering the newsroom next semester and next fall, you will be okay.

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