One of the very first meetings that I attended on the Hill was the Kenyon Collegian interest meeting. Having been editor-in-chief in my literary magazine class in high school, I knew I liked to write. However, that is a characteristic you could apply to most Kenyon students. So when I logged on in early September of 2020, I had low expectations. I was ready to hear about an application process. If I was to join, I then anticipated working with upperclassmen or getting assigned an article that not many people would read.
When the executive staff of 2020-2021 announced that there were no applications necessary to join the paper, I was relieved. A lot of the sections needed writers. As an avid sports fan, I was happy when the Sports Editors introduced themselves. They became some of the first upperclassmen I met. I didn’t know it at the time, but they were about to become incredibly important to my Kenyon experience.
A few days later, I showed up to the Sports Section meeting, ready to get an article. To my surprise, I got assigned to write about President Decatur starting his two-year term as NCAC’s President. The athletic teams were not playing their fall seasons due to the pandemic, which made the writing about athletics a challenge. The heavy edits that the Collegian staff did were barely enough to make the article publishable.
My second article was to write about Messi’s time at Barcelona. Halfway through the article, I ran out of things to say. I texted the Sports Editors and told them I did not want to continue to write the article. In hindsight, I was asking to quit the Collegian. If it was not for the encouraging text back to just write what I can, I might have quit. I am so glad I didn’t.
As time went on, I got more comfortable writing articles. At the end of my first semester, I applied to become a Sports Assistant. In my new role, I wrote sharelines (a one or two sentence summary of the article) for all of the sports pieces, for social media sharing. My confidence as a writer also started to increase. The articles that I wrote started to have fewer edits on them. I started to have more freedom in the type of articles I wrote.
As students become more experienced they start to write more feature-type or sports news pieces. Despite the pandemic changing the typical trajectory of my path as a writer at the Collegian, I started moving up. One of my first big articles was on an alumni playing professionally in Scotland.
While preparing for the virtual interview, I was ready because of the Sports Editors motivations and also I started to learn how to think in my intro classes. No longer was I memorizing facts and regurgitating them for my academic papers, but rather I was analyzing the events of history in writing. While my academic papers weren’t great at the start, writing for the Collegian gave me a chance every week to work on something. Sometimes it was learning how to better integrate sources (quotes) into pieces, while other weeks I worked on being concise. As I wrote the piece, I took the same approach as my academic papers: organize my thoughts, plan an outline, write the piece, and then refine.
When sophomore year came around, I started out as a Sports Assistant. I continued to write a variety of articles for the sports section such as covering the strength and conditioning coach leaving. In November, I was promoted to Sports Editor. With that came a lot of responsibilities. Now as the lone editor of the section, I was assigning and editing stories. In addition, I also was responsible for the administrative duties such as uploading the articles to the website and doing share lines.
Since the sports section is a small group of writers, usually around five writers per week, I usually got to write about what I wanted as did most people. This was true from the start, but I knew not to take the higher profile articles when I started. As Sports Editor, I was now empowered to take on those articles. In the fall, I wrote important game recaps, such as the men’s soccer team in the NCAA tournament, and big changes in the athletic department, such as the head football coach resigning.
As I sat down last week, to write about the Ladies swimming and diving team becoming national champions, I realized how far I had come. No longer was I a timid writer, but a leader among the paper’s staff being at the helm in charge of the sports articles.
Sitting in the Collegian House (R-17, also known as Old Snowden) on a warm Wednesday afternoon, I started looking over the sports articles to be published that week. I assigned the articles the Monday prior to give more than a week for the writers to cover their respective sports. On Tuesday night, I received the articles, so I could give feedback to the authors on their pieces.
As the afternoon turned into early evening, all the editors of both news and sports, the two sections that the Collegian edits on Wednesday night, started to arrive. Articles also started to be filled with edits by the executive staff. As a section editor, I peruse all the articles addressing the executive staff and copy editors’ comments similar to the way writers have done so the day before. As the hour hand strikes the bottom of the clock, people start to take a break to go grab dinner.
Working on the paper is great, but dinner time on Wednesday is my favorite time of the week. Like a lot of things at Kenyon, it's not the infrastructure that makes the College great, but rather the people on the Hill make Kenyon a special place. All the current and former Sports Editors, some now on executive staff, make their way down Middle Path to grab dinner at Chilitos. After the Mexican food, and a fair share of laughter, we get back to work on the Collegian.
Soon the sun has set, and casual jokes in R-17 have subsided and the work begins to get serious. We still have fun, but the focus on the articles is the top priority. I hope to usually finish addressing the comments on the sports articles around eight o’clock. Once the articles are finalized, the design team puts the pieces into InDesign for publication. After the articles are set, I walk upstairs to the studio to headline.
While the titles are the first thing the readers see, it is one of the last things that we do at the paper. Headlining is one of my favorite parts of being on staff. On the page, there is only a definitive amount of space that the title can take up. Sometimes we will throw out a joke headline to lighten the mood in the room, but generally it is all business. The end of the night is nearing.
After I exit, the executive staff stays to proofread each article and prepare the paper for publication. The only thing I have left to do is to upload the articles to the website the next morning.
Last week, I wrote about the Ladies swimming and diving winning the national championship; something I still am a little surprised I got to write about.
When looking at colleges, I expected to have a great relationship with my professors as I was always an outgoing person in high school. I might have believed that I would write for the Kenyon Collegian. Writing about national champions, though, was another matter. But that’s what Kenyon has to offer: the opportunity to move up and try new things, with dedication and practice. As I walk out of the Collegian House, I feel I have accomplished something special.