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It matters

Justin Tardiff | Thursday, October 13, 2005

“At its best, journalism combines the thrill of the hunt with the nobility of purpose,” said Shelby Coffey III, former vice president of ABC News. “Through journalism, wrongs can be righted, brilliance celebrated, the powerful held accountable.”

More succinctly put – “Journalism really matters,” said Tom Johnson, former chairman and CEO of CNN News Group and publisher and CEO of The Los Angeles Times. “There is a major public service side to what we do.”

They work vigorously until four in the morning multiple nights a week. They write columns, previews, wraps and news articles nearly every night. For your viewing/reading pleasure, they put out 28 pagers (or more). They put out detailed, knowledgeable, yet concise Irish Insiders before and after every football game. They’ve covered Fr. Jenkins’ Inauguration, the Pope’s death, the 2004 Presidential Election and the next Jordan Auditorium speaker all with the same vigor, all with the same devotedness – the same feeling of obligation to report to you the reader.

They put out a thorough, nearly perfect campus newspaper daily – for you.

Yet they have midterms, term papers and labs just as you do. They have at least 15 credit hours just as you do. And they want to hang out with friends just as you want to.

They are The Observer editors, writers and staffers. They are students, friends.

And journalists.

These journalists go to five classes a week, keep up with homework and projects, maintain a healthy social life, and, at the same time, work production until four or five in the morning, write their beats and edit other stories. The workload is so outrageous, it’s just downright unbelievable they can do it. Frankly, it’s beyond amazing.

While you and I are studying in the library until two in the morning or playing hallway whiffleball until three, they’ll still be working, typing away in the basement of South Dining Hall. When you’re sleeping, they’ll be listening to Kanye West or Dave Matthews – plugging away on the next day’s paper. When the sun’s rising, they’ll just then be heading home, finally – to sleep for the few hours they can before class.

Maybe next time you pick up a copy and skim it at lunch with friends, you’ll think of all the hard work that went into just one issue, let alone one article or one layout. Rather than take your daily source of campus news for granted, maybe you’ll thank the people who sacrifice for the sake of journalism.

Next time you rip The Observer for making a spelling error or for screwing up a headline, maybe you’ll remember the journalist/student you are ridiculing probably sits next to you in Chemistry or Bio lab. They stand in line with you at the dining hall. Or they rush the field with you at a football game.

And remember, most of the time, the daily campus newspaper is nearly perfect. Its job is to tell, as Carl Bernstein, co-author of The Final Days and All the President’s Men, says, “the best obtainable version of the truth.” And that’s what it does. Its job is to give you information and entertainment. And that it does.

Throughout modern history, journalism has helped shape the classes we take and the subjects we debate. After covering baseball and volleyball, working production late and editing articles at ungodly hours, I’m taking a break from journalism for the time being. Hopefully soon I’ll do journalism again. But until then, I’ll respect the heck out of it and the people who do it. I’ve realized one thing – journalism matters. It matters so much more than you’d think.