College papers capitalize on Chick-fil-A spectacle

By Wednesday afternoon, I was so sick of hearing about Chick-fil-A. I was tired about hearing how the CEO made public claims (via social media) about the company’s already well-known stance on homosexuality. I was tired of hearing people rooting for the company. Tired of hearing people bash the company. Just… TIRED.

Media fatigue.

But, as much as I believe this whole charade was nothing more than a PR stunt to increase publicity, I have to give credit to the college newspapers that took this ridiculousness and localized it.

My former paper covered the issue, as well as the Daily Egyptian, SIU Carbondale’s student newspaper. I didn’t look into any other papers, but I don’t doubt that others are doing similar stories as well.

Examples like this show just how easy it is to take national stories and bring them down to the college level. Granted, both campuses have a Chick-fil-A on campus, but my point still stands.

More often than not, there is always a connection between a university an a national issue. And the coverage doesn’t just have to come across through the news section. When the Egyptian uprising was occurring, the Alestle had two international students write guest opinion columns on the issue (here and here).

It’s good to see college journalists going outside of campus and bringing stories back in, rather than waiting for events and controversies to pop up on site.

BREAKING NEWS: College doesn’t prepare you for the real world

I thought I learned everything I needed to know to land a good first job and start my journalism career off right. I did get a good first job. And I am doing quite a bit of work at my first “big kid” job. But I wasn’t prepared for what I was going to see, not necessarily in my newsroom, but the real world journalism industry as a whole.

The industry drives people away. It turns good journalists into burned out shells of their former selves. And it does so faster than I’d like admit.

It’s sad. There are at least two people I know who are turning away from journalism for that reason. Both of them are looking to get into public relations.

Journalism isn’t what they thought it’d be. It’s not what I thought it would be either. I had these ridiculous fantasies of ethics being commonplace in newsrooms across the country, people working together to make their product the best it can be and everybody loving what they do.

I can see that that’s not true in all cases. And college doesn’t tell you that. The best (or worst) advice anyone ever gets is, “Don’t go into journalism. It’s a dying industry.” The theory is that it’s dying because everything is shifting to a more online/digital focus. But I beg to differ.

I would propose the reason the industry is dying is because the good, ethical, passionate journalists get turned away by the depressing realization that people don’t hold themselves to high enough standards like we all did in college.

It was ingrained in my mind by former editors, fellow editors and professors alike that ethics, honesty and accurate reporting are the most important things. They are. I still believe that. But outside of the collegiate bubble, some people don’t see it that way. Or, if they do, they don’t realize that those qualities have been slowly slipping away.

If not for meeting the group of journalists who attended the SPJ Reporters Institute in July, I fear I might have already started to run away. But I love this business too much. All it takes is one person to try and make a change and pop the collegiate bubble so the  “real world” can get a taste of what it’s been missing out on.

I don’t think I’m that person. I’m probably not. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try and be that person. I have to. Otherwise, I might end up out of the industry like so many other talented journalists.