Journalists, we need you

Alexandra Cline

Fake news. Alternative facts. The liberal news media.

In the past year, these terms have been hurled at journalists by the highest office in the country and numerous people throughout the nation to seemingly no end. News outlets are consistently and thoroughly criticized for anything ranging from how their reporters ask questions in press conferences, to how their reporters write stories, and even to how their reporters dress. Still, these men and women persist.

We have entered a new age for journalism, where accurate and persistent reporting is perhaps more important than ever before. Journalists have a responsibility to not only prove those terms wrong, but to remain steadfast in the face of insults and criticism. Without journalism and a free press, our democracy as we know itwould cease to exist.

Students, it is your time to carry on this tradition and ensure the public receives the information it needs. Without a new generation of reporters and editors ready to take on this burden, the institution fundamentally cannot survive. For that reason, I encourage anyone and everyone to consider pursuing a career in journalism and passing on the torch of one of our most crucial institutions.

At Washington and Lee, we are known for having one of the best and oldest journalism programs in the country. From intro courses like JOUR101 to In-Depth Reporting, Reid Hall becomes your second home—especially during the beat reporting class when you actually live there. Our journalism major is unlike any other program in the school, for you are directly preparing to enter a profession with an incredible amount of responsibility. But, along the way, you will be guided by incredibly talented and successful professors who want to see you succeed.

When I enter Reid Hall every day, I can truly say that I could speak to or ask the advice of any professor in the building. With every story you write, your professors answer any and all questions you have and never hesitate to provide guidance. Better yet, you never have to make an “appointment” or feel hesitant about asking for help. Your professors truly want to create the best product possible, whether that means editing your work several times or calling you on the phone after class to ask questions.

Unlike other classes, you should never have to guess whether or not your work is up to par. Unsure of what sources you need? Ask your professor. Unclear on how to write your ‘lede?’ Ask your professor. Need help structuring your story? Ask your professor.

With support from those at W&L and your own confidence in your ability, your time as a journalism major will undoubtedly prepare you for a successful career. And when the time comes, you, too, will pass on that torch.