This semester at school, I joined the staff of the Scroll, BYU - Idaho's student paper. It's an excellent paper, one which frequently wins serious awards for everything from content to layout to business practices. As far as student papers go, it's one of the best there is, and I got to join the staff.
I was excited about this all summer because, in addition to the invaluable experience I knew I'd be receiving, this would also provide me with those oh-so-important published clips for my portfolio.
Needless to say, I've been anxious since the semester started to finally get something published, and to have some real clips to include with queries and the like.
Naturally, I was thrilled when they wanted me to write something for the first edition - that week, most of the new reporters were just given their style guides and told to brush up on things. I was being asked to write something right away, because of my prior experience, and my familiarity with the format they needed. Ah ha! Already my talent and professionalism were getting attention. I was feeling pretty smug when I handed my piece in well ahead of the deadline.
I was still smugly smirking when I opened up the paper to see my words printed there in beautiful black ink, done up as an impressive half-page infographic. It was so lovely - my own words, lovingly crafted, there for all of the university to see. But wait... where was my byline?
Turns out, in the rush to get the paper off to press, they just forgot to include it. Because it was a graphic and not a story, they hadn't even thought about it. So, my first 200 printed words for the Scroll went uncredited. I was a little miffed, but not overly so - surely, having impressed themwith my speed and professionalism so early in the game I'd get plenty of opportunities to get my name in print.
I wasn't disappointed. The very next week, they assigned me a story on local political events, and wanted twelve inches within a week. I jumped on the opportunity, and gave them a great story.
Unfortunately, the day before this story went to press, a student who works for one of the political groups mentioned in my article came into the Scroll offices, saw the article already in layout, and started picking at every detail of the article, calling some of it inaccurate, other parts poorly researched and on the whole saying that it was full of politically slanted editorial commentary.
Now, let me say upfront that this article was meticulously researched, and I spent hours removing anything I could even imagine being perceived as bias in any direction. However, he had pointed out one actual mistake, and raised enough questions over the article's content to get it pulled from the paper that week. Instead of my article, I opened up the paper to find an advertisement.
That was two weeks ago. I've since improved my source attribution in the article, fixed the one legitimate mistake and editted my story even further. In the mean time, I also wrote a second article which unfortunately wasn't quite newsworthy enough to run. They didn't run either. Hopefully, you can understand how a little bit of frustration might begin to seep into my efforts?
This last week, I've been busting my butt on another story, trying to get it done without neglecting either my classes or my wife too terribly. Unfortunately, I could already tell that it wouldn't be ready for this week's paper, so I talked to my editor about giving me another week, which he is.
The only problem is that, as of yesterday, I had written three and a half articles, printed only one, and still not even gotten a clip that had my name on it! Arrrgghh! I was more than frustrated, I was getting pissed off. Was my work going to get me anywhere?
This morning, I was pleasantly suprised to find, nestled nicely amid the other articles on the News page, my first article, the one that had been pulled at the last minute. Apparently, my revising efforts had not been in vain, and I am now feeling a bit more validated as a writer. So, there you have it. I've finally gotten into newsprint, and it feels great. Hopefully, not every writing endeavor will be so infuriatingly frustrating.