Dear stranger on the Internet:
Thanks for Googling me,
One time in college, I did a really, really dumb thing and got in a lot of hot water over it, especially on the Internet. Then I apologized for it. Most of the Internet stayed mad. So you could say I’m pretty familiar with what it’s like to have hundreds of strangers tweeting about what a terrible human being you are.
Recently, my (smart, funny, wonderful) friend Megan wrote a thing ahead of today’s Arizona-Washington State game. Then a guy wrote this response. And then the Internet blew up at my (smart, funny, wonderful) friend in a way that felt excruciatingly familiar to me, but with one key difference:
During my own moment of Internet infamy, I said sorry because I definitely had something to apologize for. And even though I refuse to say all of the criticism was valid (death threats and harassing my family are never valid, Internet), a lot of it was. I’m still trying to figure out why so many people in Pullman, Wash., think Megan has something to be sorry about. As far as I can tell, when she incurred the Internet’s wrath, it was because … she said she’s not a Washington State fan?
Really. A bunch of people got worked up because she made some jokes about their school’s team. Because in the history of sports and its fan bases, that has never ever happened before.
Come on, Internet.
Hey, Internet. I’m official now:
It continues to be pretty crazy to think this is actually the second ID badge I have from this place. It’s still kind of crazy to be in Los Angeles. As one of my favorite people in the world (follow him on Instagram!) put it, today was the first day of my life. So it seems appropriate to set both professional and personal goals to keep in mind during the next few months or so.
1. In the words of Sheryl Sandberg, lean in.
I know a lot of people took issue with Sandberg’s book for a number of legitimate reasons, but when I read it, I recognized parts of myself in it: a habit of second-guessing, of maintaining silence for longer than I need to because I want to be sure of my own ideas, etc., etc. Not that I ever imagine myself being the kind of person who can blurt things out without thinking, but I do know people sometimes mistake this habit as timidity and an unwillingness to participate. It’s always been something I have to consciously work at, in every leadership role I’ve ever held. So here it is in writing: I will stop rehashing my own thoughts over and over. No one said you have to be 100 percent sure 100 percent of the time, and sharing my thought process can sometimes be just as valuable as the thought itself.
2. Walk into a bar by myself.
OK, this one might be a little silly. But seriously. I don’t know if men have this problem and I know some women who don’t, but a lot of the ones I know do not go into bars alone because it’s weird and you never know what sort of sketchy character you may encounter and even if you don’t, people are looking at you for being that weird girl by herself at a bar. Except that it’s not weird and you never know who you might encounter anywhere and no one is actually thinking that about you. So really, not being comfortable walking into a bar alone is even sillier.
3. Learn something new and useful to take to my next job, wherever that may be.
This will be easy enough to accomplish through my Metpro training, of course, so maybe it’s kind of a cheat goal. But whatever. I’ve been an intern enough and known enough interns to know that these sorts of things are what you make of them. If you decide from the get-go you’ll get nothing out of an experience, of course you’ll get nothing. The opposite happens too.
4. Don’t lose touch with old friends.
It’s probably more normal for people to worry about new friends when they move, but I’ve always had much more of a problem staying in touch with old friends. I’m just not good at picking up the phone and calling or writing long emails or however else people stay in touch. So I lost track of childhood friends, friends from high school, people I’ve interned with before. It seems even easier to lose touch when you live in a whole new state, so I’m going to work really hard to not do that.
5. Find something I love to do that isn’t journalism.
I haven’t decided what this will be yet. Maybe this is the year I finally learn how to cook things that require more skills than boiling water or pushing buttons on the microwave. Maybe I’ll find an organization to volunteer with. Maybe, in my quest to accomplish that second goal, I’ll become an expert of beers. Or something. Something that isn’t my job. As much as I love journalism, I’m aware I need other interests. Because you know, I am not a news robot. I’m a real human being, and human beings do things like care about lots of things.
I’ve been musing for a while about a Daily Wildcat story on a student who held a sign that read “you deserve rape” on campus on the same day that the Take Back the Night rally was held to raise sexual assault awareness. As a journalist, I’ve been taught not to say how I feel about a story, especially one in a newspaper that I edit. But it would be a little ridiculous to pretend I don’t have a bias here. Of course I’m biased against a guy who says I deserve to be violated if I wear a short skirt. I would not argue with claims that his speech is hurtful. I do not believe Saxton should deliver a sermon that perpetuates victim blaming and slut shaming.
But I do believe in his right to do so without fear of retaliation through physical harm or legal means. Continue Reading
The walls of my cubicle in the Arizona Daily Wildcat newsroom are wallpapered in newspapers from other schools, in notes to myself and giant lists of strategies and goals and things to do. I’m re-evaluating a lot of what the Wildcat has done — both right and wrong — to figure out what the next move should be.
In doing so, I’ve been questioning a lot of what I believe journalism is, what its role should be, how it goes about fulfilling that role and why this column on why a fellow student journalist won’t pursue professional journalism pisses me off so much.
I couldn’t get it out of my head for a while, and I struggled to form a coherent thought about it at first. But I think it bothers me so much because even though the writer begins by saying he has never had formal training in journalism, he seems to hold an old-fashioned view of journalism that I’ve raised issue with in my own j-school training — a view that somehow stifles innovation in journalism even though it demands it at the same time.
Who has two thumbs and is the fall 2012 editor-in-chief of the Arizona Daily Wildcat? This girl. Betting on me was probably safe, given that I was the only one running for the gig, but here we go anyway.
To say next semester will be interesting would be an understatement, given how much has to change. There’s a lot of worrying about keeping up with budget cuts and catching up with the way journalism has changed in the last few years. (You can download my Daily Wildcat editor-in-chief application as a pdf.)
I expect to meet a lot of resistance. It won’t be because I’m abrasive or too demanding, though maybe I should cut back on threatening to set people’s personal belongings on fire. It’s definitely not that I’m asking for anything too hard to accomplish, assuming we go at it with some patience and flexibility. It’s just really, really new.
And yet it’s not. Nothing I want to do is something entirely different from what people already do. People are already on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. People already know how to report, write, design, shoot, film, etc. I just want people to combine all of their skills, including the things they don’t think are skills (like tweeting or snapping a picture on Instagram), to produce a more well-rounded story for print and online.
Everyone has the potential to be a great storyteller. They just need to be pushed to approach and present the story a little differently.
And OK. Every editor-in-chief of the Wildcat has pitched these big abstract ideas, only to burn out and realize their lofty visions get tangled up in the day-to-day stresses of the paper. I don’t expect to streamline and transform the Wildcat in a semester or two, but here’s hoping that having a tangible game plan will help lay something of a foundation.
In other news, not long now until Dow Jones News Fund training in Texas and then I’m off to Los Angeles for my internship. And I’ve found a place to live, so I won’t even be homeless this summer. You win, week.