You certainly see a different side of Georgetown from the fourth floor of the Leavey Center. It’s hard not to. The long nights in Leavey 421 teach those at The Hoya a lot about what it means to be student journalists.

As journalists, we have dedicated ourselves to upholding ethical practices, and we are constantly striving to be the best reporters and editors we can be. This means unbiased reporting, a broad scope of coverage and knowing what matters most to our readers and the greater Georgetown community. The Hoya has received its share of fair criticism, from our coverage of the Jena Six controversy and LGTBQ issues to countless other complaints that flow into our office. It’s easy to criticize us, and we at The Hoya most likely deserve a great deal of it. We are constantly reminded that we missed a story or missed a source. But we learn from the criticism and become a better paper in the process.

We’re not always the most-loved student organization on campus, but that is simply the nature of news. Unfortunately, we can never make everyone happy. People will not always enjoy how their club, friends or selves are portrayed in the press, and that often puts us in an awkward situation with our readers, who we often report on.

But it’s important to note that The Hoya is not racist; The Hoya is not homophobic; The Hoya is not misogynistic or any of the other terms that have been hurled our way. The Hoya is composed of your fellow students who sacrifice sleep, grades and their Thirsty Thursdays to make sure that someone is holding our school accountable. The Hoya reports on issues – whether it is hate crimes, the alcohol policy, laptop thefts, identity protection, academic changes or neighborhood complaints – that certainly matter to this community. And sometimes, students see results. Policies change, administrators speak up and the community sees a little more into the workings of this non-transparent university. GUTS bus route changes, UIS spam filter updates and the reallocation of unspent student activities fees are the most recent examples of issues that the community addressed after they gained attention with the help of the press.

And it’s not an easy task – one issue alone requires our editorial staff to put in more than 350 combined hours of work; and that’s not including editorial assistants and reporters.

But despite the efforts, we’re not always appreciated. In one particular comment on an editorial on our Web site, the user, referring to himself or herself only as “parent,” wrote, “Stop the presses and end your very mediocre attempts at journalism. . It’s Friday, time to get the kegs.”

For all of us up in Leavey, The Hoya is a job, and one that we take very seriously. Those of us in this office have gone on to work for ABC News, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, to name only a few. We don’t do it for any recognition, and we don’t do it for monetary compensation (for the few among the editorial staff that do receive a stipend, the rate comes to anywhere between 40 cents and $2.00 an hour.)

Quite simply, we at The Hoya make the newspaper our life while on the Hilltop because this is our passion, and it is this passion that drives us to be responsible journalists. That passion and dedication to you, our readers, makes us strive to deliver the important issues at Georgetown to you fairly and accurately, without spin or bias. Journalism is still something we tend to take for granted at Georgetown. Certainly, students on the Hilltop care about current events – busy Hoyas always grab for The New York Times and The Washington Post, eager to get their fill of national headlines. But even at home, it’s important to be informed of changes that directly affect you and your lives here. Whether it is how the university spends your money, guarantees your safety or addresses your concerns, you have a right – as well as an obligation – to be in the know and be better-informed.

This isn’t a call for praise for us at The Hoya, but rather for an understanding of the role student journalists play on campus. Just as it’s our job in this office to report the news, it’s your job to care about the work we do. Ask questions. Let us know when we are doing well. Let us know where we can improve. Push us to be the best newspaper we can be: It’s for the benefit of the entire community. We all have an interest in making sure that the administration answers to its students and staff, that students know what is happening on and off their campus and that everyone learns a little more about this place he or she calls home for four years.

It’s our job at The Hoya to foster the conversation by presenting the facts, the people, the stories. That is the beauty of journalism: It gets people talking.

I’ve learned a lot during my time in this office, but nothing as important as the power of the press and the ability the truth has to bring about change.

So do your part. If reporting isn’t for you, at least pick up The Hoya once in a while and know what is happening on campus. We’re all students at Georgetown, and as such, we all have an obligation to make the Hilltop a better place, in whatever capacity we are able. You’d be surprised how much we can accomplish simply by reporting the news.

Read and write, and watch what happens.

John Swan is a junior in the College and the outgoing editor in chief of The Hoya.

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