My senior year of high school, I took a journalism class, and I was hooked. Inverted pyramids, objective reporting, writing the perfect lead – these were all things I loved. So when I first walked around the 2012 Fall Involvement Fair at WCU, I sought out the school newspaper’s table immediately.
Fast forward three years, and I am writing to you as the Editor-in-Chief of The Quad, WCU’s student news service. I can honestly say that writing for the paper has been one of the best experiences of my college career, so I encourage you to get involved.
My first article happened shortly after the Fall Involvement Fair. I walked around the Volunteer Fair in the Sykes Ballrooms with a miniature notebook, and I felt just like Rory Gilmore (the main character on the show Gilmore Girls, who went on to be Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Daily News). I interviewed people, took notes, and wrote up my first article.
Over forty articles later, I still have that little notebook, though I have streamlined my process a bit. How do I choose what to write about? Well, here’s how it works. When you sign up to write for The Quad, you give your email address to the different section editors. There’s news, features, photography, entertainment, op-ed, and sports.
Those editors will send you a weekly email with deadlines and story/photograph ideas. You are also welcome to pitch your own article ideas.
Once you’ve written five articles, your title officially changes to “staff writer.” Before then, you’re listed as “Special to The Quad.”
In the past three years, I’ve covered suggested topics: the Volunteer Fair, the Restaurant Festival, and more. I have had professors approach me, asking for articles to be written about the Big Read event, the creative writing program, and much more. When organizations I am in wanted to attract members to meetings or events, I wrote an article.
Even though that sounds like a lot of work, the best part about writing for The Quad – at least for me – was that there was no minimum requirement. In Fall 2012, there were ten issues, and I wrote seven articles. The next semester, Spring 2013, I only wrote four, and the one after that, I only wrote three.
During freshman and sophomore year, I was in quite a lot of clubs, so I varied in the amount of time that I could devote to the paper – and that was okay. Though we love when people contribute to the paper regularly or consistently, you are allowed to write as much or as little as you want.
The only really important thing is that if you say you’re going to write an article, make sure you actually do. The editors reserve space for it.
As a writer or photographer, there are also no required meetings. If interested, however, you can attend our editorial board meetings on Tuesdays at 3:30 p.m. in Sykes Room 253. At those meetings, the section editors report how many pages they need to the Editor-in-Chief (me). That is so I can set the lay-out for Sunday, when we meet to put the paper together.
Once you become a staff writer or staff photographer, you can also apply for a section editor position when one becomes available. This is a position that involves putting the layout together, filling a section each week, keeping in contact with writers, and more. When positions become available, editors will email their writers about interviewing.
Before becoming Editor-in-Chief this past April, I was the Features Editor for a year. It was a wonderful experience, which involved writing a lot, emailing a lot, and setting the layout every week.
I still have a copy of every issue I’ve edited or written for. I personally recommend saving those.
Why write for The Quad? Well, not only is it fun – at least, for me – it is also a great way to build your writing portfolio. Are you a communications major, journalism minor, or an English major? Well, when you apply for a writing job, they will definitely ask you for a writing portfolio. It will be better for you if those writing samples are published – like in your school newspaper. I’m not a photographer, but portfolios are also important in those jobs, I know.
How can you choose what section to write for? Well, if you like reporting – journalism-style writing, objectivity, news-worthiness – the news section is probably best for you. Email email@example.com.
Do you want to write “soft news?” That typically means things that aren’t necessarily “newsworthy,” but are still quite interesting. Articles can be about an organization is hosting an event, a charity welcomes volunteers, and more. You can write a feature on a restaurant, on a professor, on your organization’s president, and more. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you have opinions on TV shows, musicians, concerts, etc.? Email email@example.com and you can write a review or reflection on your favorite entertainment topic.
Interested in politics? Have strong opinions on feminism, sports figures, celebrities, etc.? Write for Op-Ed. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to go to all the sports games? You can have a regular sport that you cover. Email email@example.com.
Maybe photography is more your thing. Our photography editors are always looking for great people to join their team. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also have new “Mobile Journalism.” Our “mojo” units are mobile video cameras. You can rent one out and make a video on a newsworthy event. Email me at Quadeic@wcupa.edu for more details.
No matter what you want to write, I do hope you get involved.
We publish the paper ten Mondays out of the semester, online and in print. You can read articles at WCUQuad.com.
Be sure to “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and follow us on Instagram.
Theresa Kelly is a fourth-year student majoring in English literature secondary education. She can be reached at TK780615@wcupa.edu.