Juniata’s student-operated newspaper, The Juniatian, delivers free news every other Thursday. This credited class, instructed by professor Will Dickey, parallels a functional newsroom. Second-year editor-in-chief, L.J. Thorson is the paper’s main decision-maker. She and her entire editorial board of students, plan and construct the Juniatian from start to finish. Here are Thorson thoughts about the newspaper’s social impact and her role as editor-in-chief.
Q: How did you get involved with The Juniatian? What experience do you have prior and during your time at Juniata that qualifies you to be editor-in-chief?
A: I had no intention of joining the newspaper when I came to Juniata, I essentially just fell into it, but it was one of the best decisions I made. Early in the semester the provost sends out an email to all students with the staff openings on The Juniatian, I saw that there were editing positions available, so I decided to respond. I had no prior journalistic experience, and I never had an interest in reporting, but I always had an affinity for editing. I spend my freshman year as a news editor; there was a huge learning curve for me. The news business is like nothing else, but I found that I had a knack for it. I was asked to be Assistant-Editor-in-Chief the first semester of my sophomore year, and was soon after promoted to Editor-in-Chief. My leadership abilities are what have made my years of leading the paper a success, I understand that my role is both as an educator and a student, I teach my staff and I learn from them in turn.
Q: What is the purpose or mission of The Juniatian? What do you wish for the future direction of the paper after you graduate?
A: The purpose of The Juniatian is the same as all press institutions, to report the news. The tagline of The Juniatian is “Report Print React” which was a creation of mine, to coincide with Juniata’s “Think Evolve Act.” We are here to report the news, print it, and allow the Juniata community to review it and react accordingly. My goal for the paper is to teach students about the importance of freedom of speech and freedom of the press, protected rights in the United States. Just because we are a private liberal arts school does not we that we are not afforded the same rights. As far as after I graduate, I want the editors that step into new leadership positions to have the same passion and enthusiasm for the program that I do, and that they will continue to add to the creativity and integrity that is the paper today.
Q: Do you think students or administration perceive The Juniatian as a legitimate source of news?
A: One thing that I always tell my staff is that The Juniatian is an actual news source, and there is no reason why what we report should not be taken seriously. Now, given that, we are also an undergraduate-run student newspaper with a staff of under 50 people. This means that we are going to be subject to having a good deal of turnover within the staff, and that everyone on staff is learning. This means that we will probably experience a good deal more mistakes than the average independent news source, but in a day and age where blog writers are taken seriously, The Juniatian is a credible barometer for the inside scoop on campus.
Q: Can you explain the process of creating each issue of The Juniatian?
A: An article begins with an idea. All members of staff, from writers to photographers submit story ideas, and the Editorial Board sorts through them to find the best pieces of news to cover. The articles are divided up between the section editors (news, sports, arts & entertainment) and then are assigned to writers. Writer have a week to conduct interviews and write their articles, which are read and edited by their section editor. The edited articles then come to myself for copy editing, and are last read through again by our faculty advisor, who finally approves them for placement in the layout. Two nights before the paper goes to press, the entire Editorial staff gathers together for final layout night, which has been affectionately termed “party night.” This is where we work collaboratively to create headlines and captions for photographs, check over the final layout, and fill any holes in content that have arisen.
Q: Where and when can you get The Juniatian? What are some cool features within each issue?
A: The Juniatian is printed on Thursday, biweekly every semester. It is delivered to every academic building and residence hall on campus. Every issue has news and sports articles and arts & entertainment columns. In our Opinion and Editorial section we have an editorial written by a member of the editorial staff, a piece called the “Presidential Perspective” where the president of Juniata weighs in on issues, and a section titled “Ask the Administration” where we ask various members of the college administration questions that students would like to have answered. The back page of The Juniatian, is the funny, or satirical page, which hosts various comics, columns, and the ever famous “Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down.”
-Seth Ruggiero ’14 Juniata Online Journalist