Student journalism has kept schools and communities connected and informed through the pandemic, proving itself more vital than ever as a community resource. SPLC is speaking with student editors around the country about their love for journalism, our changing times, and how censorship connects to all of it.
Kendrick Calfee is the Editor in Chief of the Northwest Missourian. He’s studying Multimedia Journalism at Northwest Missouri State University and expects to graduate in 2022.
SPLC: In your words, why is student journalism important?
Kendrick Calfee: Student journalism is the first layer in a network of fact-finding and truth-seeking. It is a preparation stage for our future careers, but it is so much more than that.
We have a unique opportunity to inform both students and people in our local community, while simultaneously creating a forum for honest discussion. The amazing thing about our newsrooms is that we can provide a safe learning environment for student journalists, while also holding each staff member to professional standards of news gathering ethics and accuracy.
Student journalists across the world have proven their capabilities to tell stories that would otherwise go untold – and that is journalism at its finest. Student publications often serve as the face of the First Amendment on campus, protecting students’ freedoms of speech and right to know.
SPLC: What are your biggest challenges related to the First Amendment or media law?
KC: I would say our greatest challenge with media law is just having a holistic view of the resources made available to us as student journalists. It’s easy to get gaslighted by administrations or other governmental bodies for just not knowing your rights or being confident in them. So, I have made an effort to help our staff know about things like the Student Press Law Center and similar resources that are available.
SPLC: Could you share something you’ve learned as a student journalist that could be helpful to other students or something you would like advisers to know?
KC: The news world never stops – but sometimes you need to – and that’s OK. It’s important that you take time for your mental health each week. Burnout is real. I’ve found that if I have at least one hour each day to myself doing something I enjoy, I feel better and perform better.
It can be any little thing you enjoy: reading a good book, taking a long walk, watching reruns of “Impractical Jokers” – I highly suggest doing something that makes you laugh – just to take some time for yourself.
Remember that being a journalist is not the only great thing that makes you, you. You are a multifaceted, multitalented individual with interests beyond work. My experience is that when I remember this, the quality of my work skyrockets.
SPLC: What are some of your favorite stories, videos, graphics, or other content that you or your publication have produced? Why?
KC: The Northwest Missourian is blessed with a staff that is passionate about telling stories that would otherwise go untold. Below are some of my favorites, a list that includes stories produced both before and while I have been EIC.
- First, a series of in-depth news reporting following the death of a student, and the trial that followed
- “Inside the high school official shortage plaguing rural Missouri,”
- “California Wildfires impact the life of a Northwest Student”,
- “French-born members of Northwest tennis reflect on cathedral fire,’
- “Northwest football player receives outpour of support following mystery hospitalization,”
- “Northwest’s very own Golden Girls,”
- “Northwest students rally for Fiji sexual assault victims, share campus resources,”
- “Bahamian student loses family members, home in Hurricane Dorian,”
- “Faith, family and healthcare, Nate Blackford’s journey to the helm of Mosaic – Maryville, and the man behind the job,”
- From the Editorial staff: “Sexual violence plaguing university campuses needs to end; support survivors,”
- An opinion column here, with insight on how the Maryville community needs to do better : “Being Black in Maryville means never feeling safe,”
Of course, it was hard to pinpoint these down to a somewhat concise list. I’m proud to be a part of an exceptional editorial staff at this publication, which was just named “Best newspaper in state” by the Missouri College Media Association in 2020.
There were several other stories I could have included, so I encourage you to check out nwmissourinews.com for more of our award-winning journalism.