I wrote my first article for The Daily as a high school intern in July 2012. At the time, computer science had just become Stanford’s most popular major. The story represented a milestone for the University, but as a high school junior, I neither fully understood its gravity nor had the journalism skills to write the story well. My first draft was structured like a high school essay, had a thesis instead of a lede and read like a PR statement for the computer science department. After significant edits from my desk editor, the final version retained only one full quote and one sentence from the original.
In spite of – and largely due to – my rocky start, I learned a lot about college journalism that summer, and my first news desk editor went on to become my first editor-in-chief during my freshman year at Stanford. He and the other editors I’ve worked with at The Daily are the main reason I’ve stayed with the organization for so long. Their mentorship is the reason I’ve begun to consider journalism as a potential career path, despite my longtime intentions to enter into tech as an engineer.
In The Stanford Daily’s Articles of Incorporation, the first general purpose of the organization is “to provide an educational opportunity to the Stanford University students to gain journalistic writing, photographic and business experience at Stanford University.” It’s this culture of education and learning that makes The Daily such an important institution on Stanford’s campus.
The Daily should serve as an educational organization open to anyone who wants to learn about journalism. For the first time this year, we’ve required every editorial section to have training workshops for new staffers, and these have enabled us to maintain open membership in every section except Opinions, which has a cap on its weekly columnists. We should strive to allow anyone to work at The Daily, regardless of prior journalism experience.
But it’s worth noting that the majority of our 200-plus-person staff do not intend on going into journalism after college. The Daily brings together people of all different majors and teaches important communication and leadership skills regardless of our future career paths. I myself have found that the most valuable lessons I’ve learned through The Daily have come from interactions I’ve had with sources and fellow staff members.
As journalists at a student-run college newspaper, we’re in a unique position of being active members of the communities that we’re trying to represent, report on and inform. And as a result, conflicts of interest, personal biases and repercussions from our stories are all the more real. During my time at The Daily, I’ve gained interpersonal skills that no other experience at Stanford could provide: I’ve had the opportunity to engage with a diverse set of viewpoints on a variety of different issues on campus.
In this way, The Daily also acts as an educational institution within Stanford’s campus — giving people a place to have their voices heard while also informing the public about issues that matter, or should matter, to students and community members. Whether reporting objectively and comprehensively in our News section or presenting diverse views in our Opinions section, The Daily and its staff should strive to serve and represent the Stanford community by better educating ourselves about the issues that matter to one another.
Of course, we always have room for improvement. The Daily is no stranger to criticism from both within and outside the Stanford community, and mistakes are a part of the learning process. If my first desk editor and all the editors I had after him had simply rewritten my stories rather than working with me through each mistake, I would not be where I am today. Part of our jobs as journalists and editors is to be educators — both for one another and also for the communities we’re serving.
I view The Daily as both an educational institution and a student community that should be open to anyone. And given the current sociopolitical climate at college campuses and around the nation, the skills we teach and the learning experiences we provide are more important now than ever.
Kylie Jue is the current editor-in-chief for Volume 250. She is a senior majoring in CS+English and coterming in computer science. She began writing for the News section as a high school intern and has also worked as a desk editor and managing editor for News. Contact Kylie at kyliej ‘at’ stanford.edu.
This piece is part of the Vol. 250 Editorial Board’s “Why The Daily matters” series. Read the rest of the editorials here.