Experiential Learning for Collegian Editor Comes Outside an Actual Classroom

Katie Goodrich ’17

Senior year is a whirlwind. Welcome Week, the last first day of class, Homecoming, basketball games, and so many more moments made me nostalgic. Caught on the brink of a new adventure, time seems to run away from me.

In an effort to capture the feelings while they are raw, I decided to blog about the ones that really stand out. Too often we take things for granted, so I want to document my experiences.

My first semester of senior year was majorly defined by three things: being editor-in-chief of the Butler Collegian, interning at the Independent Colleges of Indiana and the 2016 presidential election.

While this was not my entire life first semester, these elements were the foundation and provided me with exciting challenges.           

As a senior journalism major, this year is the first time I’ve held the same position for more than one semester on the Butler Collegian, the student news organization. I’ve been a Reporter, Assistant News Editor, News Editor, Foreign Correspondent (writing profiles while I studied abroad), Managing Editor, and now Editor-in-Chief. I went to a high school without a newspaper, so I came to Butler with next to no experience. That was quickly rectified when I joined the paper and began writing. I fell in love with the Collegian and everything it provides for students. Early on, my editors assigned me stories right away, letting me mistakes, and then helped me to fix them and learn what I could do to improve with each and every new assignment. Butler prides itself on providing this kind of experiential learning to its students, and I learned the most outside of an actual classroom. I learned it a newsroom, surrounded by my peers who shared my passion for student press.

I needed this environment to test the theoretical knowledge I gained from classes. The Collegian allowed me to write, report and edit without worrying about a grade. It was real world experience, but inside the Butler bubble.

With this foundation, I left my comfort zone and wrote for a local newspaper, got an internship and grew immeasurably.

But the best part of the Collegian is the community. The staff is made up of some of the most passionate, dedicated and talented people I know. Their humor is always appreciated during the late nights.

Leading an amazing group is a great responsibility I take seriously, even if I add a GIF to almost every mass email I send reminding them about a meeting. I know the final decisions are mine to make, which is an immense pressure to be under.

I say thank you in almost every staff meeting and email, but I cannot express how grateful I am to have this staff in my life. They make all the hours of hard work worth it, because I know I am preserving a Butler cornerstone for generations of Bulldogs to come.

At the end of the fall semester, the staff surprised me with a blanket with a collage of headlines, photos and quotes from the issues we published. Overwhelmed, I started laughing and rambling on about how amazing they were.

In that moment, I could not express how much the gesture meant. I looked out at the crowd of staffers and saw the future of the paper and the future of the journalism industry, and they were thanking me. It was surreal, and I felt like I owed them everything.

Although we went through tough times as a newspaper and as a staff, the Collegian was a constant in my college career.

Joining the Butler Collegian was the best decision I made in my first few weeks at school. Its impact on my life will help shape my future journalism career.

Over the summer, I began interning at the Independent Colleges of Indiana, an organization that works on behalf of the 31 private, nonprofit universities in the state. About a dozen people work there, so I assumed responsibilities like I had always been a member of the team.

I ran the social media accounts, wrote press releases, started an intern blog about college life and helped with different marketing campaigns. My supervisors trusted my knowledge and skillset, so I dove into the work.

Some big projects came my way, including a month long campaign focused on answering questions about college for high school students. 31 Answers to Your Questions About College launched in September, but the process was already underway when I began work in May.

One of the focal points of the campaign was to show how affordable attending a private college can be, because more than 90 percent of students who attend an ICI school receive financial aid. But the questions also covered topics from campus housing options to how many applications to send.

I helped coordinate with representatives from every campus to collect short videos answering common college questions. (That was no easy task, might I add.) Then we edited and transcribed the videos as we worked with a web design company to build a new microsite to host the campaign.

With my high level of involvement, I sat in on all the meetings. My voice was heard, and my suggestions were valued. My input made positive changes to the campaign, which was a powerful thing for me to witness as an intern.

ICI does great work, and I was a part of it.

The organization works to help the private universities and students in many ways, from helping colleges be cost efficient to promoting the institutions to prospective students.

My work could potentially impact thousands of students and their choices about college.

Believing and buying into the mission of where you is so important.

“ICI is the collective voice for excellence and choice in higher education for all students.”

That simple motto sums up the core belief in providing quality educational opportunities for everyone, and I am really proud of the role I get to play to make it happen.

The 2016 presidential election rocked the political atmosphere of the United States on Election Night, I reported on it.

Collegian staffers and editors came to the newsroom to watch the results roll in, work on the next day’s paper and eat pizza.

We were over inundated with information — flipping through channels, checking several online news organizations and scrolling through our social media feeds. When a state was called either for red or for blue, I could feel the newsroom buzz.

I was writing an article as the results rolled in, noting everything from the time to how to stock market was faring. We brainstormed headline ideas, which spun into ridiculous territory pretty quickly.

As it got later, it felt like time moved slower. At 1:30 AM, I called the printer to see just how late we could push back our deadline and still get the paper delivered at the same time. He said 5:00 AM was the latest.

Then all the networks and newspapers began calling the election for the Republican nominee Donald Trump.

It was 3:30 AM, but I was more alert than I had been all day. I furiously typed quotes from his acceptance speech and scrolled through my newsfeed to see who was still up.

I talked to my fellow Bulldogs who had very different views at 4 in the morning. I put it all together, placed it on our pages in InDesign and finally sent the printer our paper at 4:45 AM.

I slept for two hours and then went on with the next day.

Collegians hit the newsstands the next day with the headline “He’s hired” and a picture of Trump’s face above the fold.

Some major newspapers like The New York Times or The Indianapolis Star did not have the winner in their headline, since they sent the pages in before the announcement. (See, sometimes it is worth it to ask for the extension.)

Reflecting on that day, I feel really lucky to have the unique experience of reporting about a presidential election surrounded by very supportive peers. The collegiate newsroom harbors a true sense of friendship and mutual respect.

I was running on adrenaline, and I accomplished the task with the help of my editorial team. Their support pushed me to finish strong and produce work I am proud of.

This experience cemented a career choice that I already knew I wanted. I want to share events with people and let their voices be heard.

The Collegian let me start my journalism career early, and I am so glad I got to cover my presidential election with the paper that started it all for me.