Former CT staff emphasize importance of student media

Illustration by Bobby Miller

This story is part of The Commonwealth Times’ special coverage in honor of its 50th anniversary.

CT staff report

Stephen Hicks, reporter, 2005-2007: I think first it gives the student the opportunity to get involved and have some knowledge of the inner workings of putting together a publication.

It gives a platform for students and faculty and everyone else to have a hub of information that’s not coming from the university, that’s not being filtered through the university’s PR department. It provides a community for young writers who want to be able to connect with the world and also connect with their people at a school or in the city.

Christian Finkbeiner, staff writer, co-news editor, executive editor, 1998-2000: Especially when you’re dealing with academia, there’s a lot of egos and, excuse my language, but ass-covering. You have an independent student press to go out there and find what’s really happening — otherwise, when you get news, from my experience, from the administration, all it is is spinning good news. It’s important to have someone to go out there and beat the bushes and find out what’s really going on.

Melanie Seiler, copy editor, co-news editor, executive editor 1993-1996: Working at The CT informed my career trajectory. The CT was my first foray into managing a team and building successful structures. My work as executive editor solidified my desire to work professionally in newspapers. I aimed to become a managing editor of a major daily. Today, I manage a team of 34, and many of my challenges are the same as during my CT days. Plus, my current VCU team would tell you that I’m still an extra tough editor and a guardian of AP Style — % versus percent is KILLING ME.

Jim Meisner Jr., writer, associate editorial editor, 1991-1993: The level of professionalism, we just learned it from the people before us. The people before us taught us, then we taught the next people, and they taught the next ones. The level of professionalism ended up with a really good product that we were all really proud of.

Sharon Richardson, staff writer, folio editor, 1980-1981: It covers issues happening on that campus that the local media may or may not pick up on, they may not be aware of it. It covers the issues that matter to, particularly the students on that campus, but also the faculty and staff. The other thing is, I think it gives student writers, artists and editors an outlet — a creative outlet to learn how to be citizen journalists. It’s people learning how to look around their community, whatever that community is, take note of issues or things that need to be brought to people’s attention and then present the information.

Bill Royall, staff writer, executive editor, 1971-1972:  The experience you get, it’s similar to an internship. Especially as executive editor. I learned a lot, and I think a lot of other people did too. The people who were on The CT during that time by in large turned out to be very successful in life.

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