Editorial: Student Journalism Matters: The Villanovan Calls for Support



Claire Hoffman

 It was my 18th birthday. Actually, it was a couple minutes past midnight on my 18th birthday. It was also a Tuesday night, the first of many I’d spend walking back to South Campus from Dougherty by myself. This first night, however, was singular in that I was crying on the phone with my dad. 

“I just don’t think I can do it,” I told him, “it” being my new position as News Editor for The Villanovan. 

I had clocked in to the office at around five that evening, and then proceeded to spend roughly seven hours trying to figure out how to lay out my section and determine next week’s round of articles with my co-editor. I also had to learn the names of twelve new faces who, for the most part, were all older than me and all seemed to know what they were doing. There were style guidelines and grammar guidelines and editing processes that I just could not get the hang of. Piled on top of this was the certainty running through my mind that someone was going to figure out that I didn’t belong there, that I was not the right person for the job.

So, when I finally sent my pages to print, said goodbye to the remaining editors and made my way to the Lancaster crosswalk, I called my dad and I cried. After voicing my struggles and insecurities, his advice was to give it the “old college try” (breaking: dad makes dad joke) and see if it got any easier. So I did. I returned the next week and the week after and pretty soon I got the hang of it, and that’s when the fun began.

The student-run nature of The Villanovan means that staff members enjoy a certain amount of freedom when creating each issue. Though this implies a responsibility that at times can be daunting, it also gave me a platform to investigate matters that I found important and present them in a way to my peers that I found truly liberating. Those twelve faces soon became my close friends, and we formed a team working towards something greater than ourselves. Being on The Villanovan gave me access to parts of the Villanova community that have helped me build a connection to my school. As a staff of almost 60, our team is built of students from all different backgrounds and experiences, allowing me insight into stories and narratives I would not have previously considered.

It is my absolute belief that student journalism is a vital part of college communities and serves as a litmus test for the condition of many essential aspects of those communities. A healthy student newspaper is indicative of students who are curious about the world around them, respectful of others’ opinions and empathetic to the issues of their peers and colleagues. Here at The Villanovan, we are so fortunate to have a community behind us that prioritizes this exchange of ideas and supports the work we do. I am so fortunate to have been able to be a part of that. 

My experience as an editor at The Villanovan was my college experience. I spent more hours in Dougherty 201 than I did in any dorm room, dining hall or classroom. The Villanovan made me an empathetic, critical and empowered person, more so than any ACS class. The Villanovan did that for me. The community of students, faculty and staff did that for me. Gerry from Café Nova who always asks what our front page story will be did that for me. Thank you. From the absolute bottom of my heart, thank you. To my fellow writers and editors, our advisors and to the staff of Connelly Holy Grounds for making the thousands of large black ice teas that gave me the fuel to keep going on those late Tuesday nights (and early Wednesday mornings), thank you.

But not every university newspaper is given that opportunity. Across the country, student news organizations are struggling in the face of administrative budget cuts and censorship. Student newspapers are being forced to reduce circulation and in some cases, close down. The Villanovan stands in solidarity with these organizations and their staffs and is using this editorial as an opportunity to publicly endorse Support Student Journalism Day and #SaveStudentNewsrooms, a campaign started by the University of Florida’s independent student newspaper celebrating student journalism and the impact it has on college communities. 

Student journalism matters. Funding student journalism matters. You can show your support by visiting www.savestudentnewsrooms.com, donating to The Villanovan or by picking up a copy on Thursdays around campus or reading and sharing our articles at Villanovan.com.