Working for the student paper

Posted by Kaz

One of the many experiences available to students at the University of Alaska Fairbanks is the opportunity to become a part of the Sun Star team. The Sun Star is the UAF student newspaper. It reports on issues affecting UAF, events that take place on campus and other items that relate to the student body, staff or faculty. The Sun Star is completely operated by students and is advised by the Journalism Department. Students, of all majors, fill the positions of reporter, photographer, illustrator, copy editor and chief editor. 

This year, I am happy to work as a beat reporter for the Sun Star. I got started with the Sun Star when my roommate came home to tell me that she would be writing for the Sun Star. I thought, "Hey! That's sounds like fun!" After a quick meeting with the Editor in Chief, I was officially the ASUAF Beat Reporter. 

I spend my Sunday afternoons at our Associated Students of the University of Alaska Fairbanks senate meetings to take notes. I then write up a recap for the student body to read in the Sun Star and online at Sometimes, I pick up additional articles requiring me to go to events or interview people from all around campus. As a result, I'm getting to know parts of my school I never would have known about had I not taken the article.

This experience is about more than the writing though. The Sun Star team is made up of a diverse group of students. There are no positions strictly reserved for students studying Journalism. In fact, the current Editor in Chief is studying Psychology. As an Elementary Education major, I am able to bring my insights to the table and come away with many new perspectives. Reporters and editors who are studying Journalism are incredibly patient with my slow learning and are showing me how to write journalistically and how to organize my thoughts. Through the Sun Star, I am able to make some pretty interesting connections in the campus community and that is pretty cool.

I would be lying if I didn't say that there were a few downsides to this sort of experience though. There's always the potential of putting more time into a piece than you get paid for and that time might have a negative impact on your academic or social life. (I just had my first late nighter to finish up a big piece.) You might have an assigned article that digs into a potentially controversial or negative subject. You might be excited about covering an event only to find out that it wasn't what you thought it would be. 

However, once you take a piece, you should still complete it. No matter what, a learning experience is to be had. In the case of controversial issues, all anyone can do is maintain objectivity and report the facts. In the end, those late nighters are worth it!

For anyone interested in an Education degree, experiences like this can play into future classroom lessons. I am already planning on having a class newspaper that the students can put together once a month. I'll have students demonstrate their mastery of content standards in whatever form is natural to them. For instance, students with stronger artistic abilities might create a comic that explains the natural process of volcano formation! It's exciting stuff! 

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