I joined The Troubadour as a freshman during my first week at Franciscan University. I came in as a mass communications major with a concentration in journalism and had high hopes to become a mainstream newspaper journalist. It made sense to join the school paper.
I had been a part of my school paper in high school and wrote a few articles so had some experience that would help me be successful, but my editors gave me the tools I needed to do well. Within my first year at Franciscan, I wrote over 40 articles on topics ranging from expansions on campus, student government, the March for Life, and more.
Three years later, I am now longer the eager freshman, taking 4 plus stories a week, but the person who sat at the head of the editorial table in charge of the whole operation as editor-in-chief. Although I am no longer striving to be a journalist after I graduate, I still carry the love for good, honest journalism that brings up the good and investigates the bad.
There are ten people on the editorial team, and even more writers and photographers. Each week, we put our heads together to put out a great paper. Do we make mistakes? Tons of them. There are misspellings in cutlines and layout blunders that haunt me in my sleep. But we still do a great job.
We print every other week but have stories uploaded to our website daily. We start on Mondays. The assistant editor, who oversees all the writers, pitch story ideas which I approve or turn down. Meanwhile, the photo editor takes notes of events or people that would accompany each story. We then assign each story to a writer and photographer. Each print week, we’ll have between 20 and 30 stories to assign.
After that, we wait for each photo and story to come, posting the timely ones as they come, but waiting to publish the more feature-y ones for the print. Throughout the week, both assistant and photo editors keep contact with those on assignment, answering questions and helping them in any way possible. Most of our writers are beginners so they need some training on how to look for sources. Friday night, the assistant editor’s inbox is flooded with emails from writers who are submitting their stories and columns.
Each story goes through 3-4 rounds of edits. The assistant will read it over and make sure the story is complete. All sources need to be identified and the story needs to flow well. If it’s not publishable, it’s sent back to the writer who adjusts the story. From the assistant, it’s sent to the copy editor who edits the story for grammar and makes sure it conforms to AP Style, the style of writing that is traditionally used in news writing. After she looks at it, I look it over. I don’t usually make many corrections to the story. I just confirm it’s ready to go. From their it’s published.
Then it starts all over again.
My responsibility is to make sure that everything is running like a well-oiled machine. I keep everyone accountable and am the go-to person with questions. I decided when and where things are published on the pages.
Sometimes I miss being that wide-eyed freshman excited to take stories and please their editors. I see myself in them, eager to grow and learn the tools of the trade and see their name in print. If I could take 5 stories every week like I did, I would. But God didn’t grant me the ability to bilocate or stay awake longer than 16-17 hours a day.
But instead, I get to sit at the head of the table as their leader, willing to offer lessons from my experience as a journalist and help when they need it. Watching them be successful and is pretty rewarding.
The other rewarding part is seeing people react to seeing their face in the paper. Last print, we featured Father Nathan Malvolti as our profile person. I decided to put that article on the front page, write our story on Father Mike’s passing. A few days later, I was in Starvaggi at the Admissions desk and Father Nathan comes walking by with the new print in hand and began eagerly showing it to the staff behind the desk. It made my week.
It’s through the Troubadour that I have fallen in love with Franciscan more; through it I have met some of my closest friends; I have learned how to time manage and handle stress; I have learned how to remain calm in conflict and how to communicate my vision for each print effectively; I have become a better storyteller and have earned a confidence in myself and my abilities that I didn’t have before.
Hannah Crites is a senior communications arts major (with a concentration in journalism) and theology minor from south-suburban Denver, Colorado. She is the oldest of three and is the first person in her family to attend Franciscan University. She enjoys drinking coffee (particularly in unhealthy quantities), playing the guitar and ukulele, writing, hiking, traveling, and going on random adventures.