The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday December 2nd

Farewell Column: Working as a student journalist at the DTH sucks

<p>Jessica Hardison is a senior majoring in political science and public relations. She is the 2019-2020 Arts &amp; Culture editor. Photo courtesy of Brandon Standley.&nbsp;</p>
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Jessica Hardison is a senior majoring in political science and public relations. She is the 2019-2020 Arts & Culture editor. Photo courtesy of Brandon Standley. 

Yep, you read that right. Working as a student journalist at The Daily Tar Heel absolutely, undeniably and unquestionably sucks. And there are so many reasons why.

It sucks when a potential source messages you back initially and then never responds to your calls and messages again. 

It sucks when you have a story due the same day you have a 10-page paper to turn in and a midterm to take. 

It sucks when you spend three hours transcribing an hour-long interview just to trash it all and call the source back to ask better questions and get better quotes. 

It sucks when you work 20 hours a week at another job, but you spend longer than that in the office and make a pitiful fraction — or none — of the salary you get at the other job. 

It sucks when you get assigned to a story on a Saturday night and spend all of Sunday turning it around when you’d planned on catching up on homework and sleep.

It sucks when there’s breaking news in the middle of class.

It sucks when a source or potential employer blows you off because you work for a student newspaper, as if it’s somehow inferior or illegitimate. 

It sucks when you have to turn down weekend plans to lock yourself in your room because you HAVE to finish that enterprise piece. 

It sucks when, despite all of your efforts, a story doesn’t pan out the way you wanted it to — and you think that if you’d just made one more phone call or sent one more email, things would have been different. (I learned the hard way: just change the angle or try a whole new set of sources). 

Yep, working as a student journalist at The Daily Tar Heel sucks because you have to juggle so many responsibilities at the same time. You’re a full-time student and a full-time journalist. The assignments and shells never stop coming. The news rests for no one, and neither does your academic career. 

You have to carve out time to call a source back when you should really be working on an assignment. You are held to a professional standard that other local, state and national news outlets are held to, and you’re barely an adult. I still don’t even think of myself as an adult at 21 years old. 

As a student journalist at The Daily Tar Heel, you’re held to the highest of standards both in the newsroom and in the classroom. 

And sometimes, that sucks. 

But it’s all so, so worth it.

It’s worth it because you get to tell so many people’s stories.

It’s worth it because you meet the most talented journalists in the country, who also happen to be students.

It’s worth it when you get the rush of serotonin when you see your byline.

It’s worth it when you start to see your portfolio filling up with published stories.

It’s worth it when you land your dream internship because the DTH was on your resume. 

It’s worth it when that super frustrating story gets you really positive feedback from your editors, friends and professors. 

It’s worth it when you know you’re serving your fellow students and community members and giving them the news they need. 

It’s worth it when you win the bet and pick up that sweet, sweet Carolina blue edition of The Chronicle.  

It’s worth it when you breeze through that AP Style quiz in MEJO 153: Writing and Reporting.

It’s worth it.  

But it eventually has to come to an end. I am so thankful for everything The Daily Tar Heel has taught me, and even more thankful for all of the people I’ve met along the way. 

Thank you for teaching me to be a student and a journalist, DTH.

@JessHardison31

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