ST. BONAVENTURE, NY – I always knew I wanted to write.
I remember 8-year-old me sitting on my kitchen floor, drawing children’s books about my two cats as superheroes. “The Adventures of Socks and Patches” were commonplace in my family for about two years, only to be replaced with song lyrics and knock-off Robert Frost poems when I got the chance to explore other mediums.
Never did I expect I wanted to become a journalist, but when it came time to decide what I wanted to major in at college, I figured journalism was my best chance at continuing writing.
University after university, I sat down and heard the same basic lecture from journalism professors on how great of a program each school offered. It wasn’t until I got to St. Bonaventure University that I noticed a network of students outside of the classroom, working together at the two newspapers, The Bona Venture and The Intrepid, the radio station, 88.3 WSBU The Buzz, and the broadcast station, SBU-TV.
I wanted to be a part of that atmosphere, regardless of how scary it seemed to my shy, anxiety-filled self. I chose St. Bonaventure because of the power that on-campus media had. I knew this was necessary to further my education, but I never realized how necessary it was.
And during the first few days at Bona’s, when it came time to look into organizations to get involved with on campus, I joined The Bona Venture and The Buzz.
Going into The BV, I had no journalistic writing experience, yet during my first week, I was assigned a story. And I had no idea what I was doing.
Still, I interviewed the people I needed to and wrote a story, which was later torn apart by the editors at the paper.
When starting from scratch, on-campus media can teach a lot of lessons. I was thrown into interviewing without having done research, and I learned the hard way the lessons of how to set up interviews and how to ask people questions. And when I was nervous about my writing, my editors were able to tear each article apart on Google Docs, making it better than it originally was. Even the editors tore each other's work apart; that’s how we all learned.
After my first semester, I went on to an editorial position at the paper, and the semester following I was a head editor. What once was difficult soon got easier, and I began to edit articles as intensely as mine once were. No longer was I afraid of interviewing and writing; in fact, I enjoyed it.
Now, as the managing editor for The BV, I notice how much it has helped prepare me to write for TAPinto Greater Olean and my future career as a journalist. Not only has my interviewing and writing become stronger, but I have become better organized and confident in the work that I produce, which is something that can’t be taught in a classroom.
Kelly Haberstroh, the spring 2019 editor-in-chief for The BV and former reporter for TAPinto Greater Olean, also noticed how her experiences with on-campus media have helped shape her as a journalist, even though she too had once been afraid to join.
“It wasn't until my junior year when I revisited the idea of joining the BV after being offered an assignment editor position,” Haberstroh said. “By then, I had some experience under my belt and felt more confident to be a part of the club. Since then, I've never regretted my decision to join. I've learned so much about the journalism field through my time at The BV. I've learned about the importance of teamwork, deadlines, responsibility, interviewing, reporting, design layout and so much more along the way.”
In a classroom, each student focuses on grades instead of learning. When a student gets back a paper that is marked up in red pen, it’s hard to notice the positives that the pen marks may bring. Student media offers each student that ability to practice without the worries of being invalid or getting a less-than-satisfactory grade. And for student journalists, it helps set them above the bar by having the professional experience and practice.
Student media has opened so many doors for me. Not only have I been able to better improve my craft, but I have met more people and had more opportunities than I ever would watching Netflix in my room. The extra work only further develops me as a writer, and a few sleep-deprived, late nights editing the paper have taught me more than any class ever could.
Even though I was worried at first, my experiences with on-campus media have been the best learning experiences I could ever have. Joining The BV was necessary to build my fellow editors and I into the journalists we are today.
Haberstroh feels as I do.
“It’s been an incredibly formative experience in my role as a journalism major and a journalist at St. Bonaventure,” she said. “It's more than an extracurricular club. It feels like both a job and a hobby. Having the opportunity to be a section editor and later become editor-in-chief has easily been one of the most rewarding accomplishments during my time at college.”