VIEWPOINT: Education Through Student Press

I am pretty sure I was only hired as a writer because the senior interviewing me was currently working on her thesis about Queen Elizabeth. My British accent alone earned my access to Leavey 421.

I did not come to Georgetown with dreams of being a journalist. When I arrived on campus, it was with only a vague notion of The Hoya’s existence — it was the promise that I could see movies for free and review them that convinced me to apply.

Three and a half years later, and oh, how things have changed — among them, my love and respect for student journalism.

From overseeing our coverage of Georgetown’s slaveholding past to frantically gathering USB sticks to print without internet; from organizing our fashion issue shoots to helping run our election night blog — I credit The Hoya with providing me with my most memorable experiences.

While I have been fortunate to have some inspiring professors during my time at Georgetown, it is this paper that has taught me the most important, varied and challenging lessons.

One of the most significant challenges we have had to tackle is trying to understand the newspaper’s place here on campus.

At the core of The Hoya is a conflict with which everyone on staff struggles: balancing being a student group with being a professional organization. Often, it puts us in the uncomfortable position of being both part of and outside of the university community. This leads to the criticism both that we take ourselves too seriously and that we do not report seriously enough.

At our best, we see results we can be proud of — stories that bring important issues to light, that challenge the university administration and highlight the work being done by students across campus.
But at our worst, we see mistakes that still have the ability to make me physically cringe as I fall asleep. When these mistakes happen, they do so publicly, as the multitude of emails, Facebook and Twitter notifications remind me.

Let me be clear — this criticism is important. Of all the lessons The Hoya teaches its members, particularly those aspiring to be professional journalists, this is one of the most valuable. After all, if there is one thing to take away from this election, it is that the media needs to be held accountable. That is a lesson that must start at the level of student journalism.

Being part of The Hoya means making sacrifices. For us to do our best, we tend to have to give up our time, some grades, a lot of sleep and, on bad days, some personal relationships. We also have to accept being called out and criticized — sometimes justifiably about our work, and other times unjustifiably about our personal character.

Is it worth it? Absolutely.

Being editor-in-chief has been a privilege. After spending so many hours in this office, it is hard to pinpoint exactly what stands out as making this experience so wonderful. There is the work, the satisfaction of putting out a story that has really paid off after requiring so much effort, the rush of adrenaline when fiercely standing by an article. But there are the people, too. Witnessing students develop here from nervous new hires to exceptional editors is one of the best rewards as editor-in-chief. The experience of working with our extremely passionate and dedicated staff is one I would not trade for anything.

Over the past few weeks, friends have commented on how excited I must be to be done and to have my life back. It is understandable that they think that will be the case, especially since some have started to comment on my corpse-like appearance. Yes, it will be nice to return to a semi-regular sleep schedule, but I take it as the best possible sign that if someone asked me to do it all over again, I would say yes in a heartbeat.

As with every editor-in-chief before me, I hope I leave The Hoya a little better than I found it, and I look forward to seeing it improve once I am retired. To more people than could possibly fit here, I can only say thank you for absolutely everything.

JESS KELHAM-HOHLER is a senior in the College and the 142nd editor-in-chief of The Hoya. Her term ends Saturday.

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