Mother knows best: Join the Royal Purple

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A sick, sappy post about how I love the RP and all it’s done for me – and I said this back in May, when I had no idea what kind of journalist the role of News Editor would make me into. Prepare yourself. And yes, I did log into Instagram on my computer for this. Judge me.

I’m going to be your mother here, in some aspects.

No, I’m not going to call you at the most inopportune times to pester you about your grades. I won’t tell you to be careful when going out to parties. I certainly won’t give you unconditional love.

What I will do, however, is inform you that the only way you’re going to do well out in the real world is by getting involved.

This can reference any organization on campus, really, but for all-intensive purposes, I’m going to shamelessly plug the Royal Purple – and the fact that we have close to a dozen positions up for grabs.

The turnover is high is semester because we have a lot of students holding those positions graduating in a month, therefore sending the rest of the staff into a frenzy to find a newly opened position for themselves.

So, I’ll take a little time to debunk a few myths for you, and if you feel like confident enough, check out either Kyle or Julie Ridgeman’s email on joining the staff. You can always get ahold of me as well, to ask questions.

Myth #1: I don’t have enough experience to be on the RP.

Take a look at your surroundings. You are on a college campus, which is by nature, a learning institution. Which means that the RP is here to serve as practical experience so you can develop your skills to gain that experience.

Do we like people to walk into their position feeling prepared and having a little knowledge on their section or role? Absolutely. However, so few journalism majors leave their last journalism class having no more knowledge with them when they started, so that’s an unrealistic precedent to hold people to.

To be candid here? Even the staff isn’t perfect. I have my days where not enough experience could have prepared me for the situations I was put in. You grow as you go.

Myth #2: I can’t be an editor without being a staff writer first, so I don’t qualify.

I’m living, breathing, smart-mouthed proof this isn’t true.

August 3, 2014. I kept my phone within inches of me at all times, a few feet away if I was gutsy. My confidence shrank as the clock ticked past four, five, six p.m.

They hadn’t liked me and they just didn’t feel like calling to say, no, we’re not really interested. Maybe join as a staff writer and apply for Photo Editor when you have more experience.

I got the call at 7 p.m. He’d had a hectic day, forgetting to call me in the process.

And with that, I had thrown myself onto of journalists all at least a year older than me, with two, three, four times that in experience.

Was starting my collegiate journalism career the day I stepped on campus always easy? No. Did I qualify to be in a position where I could learn and grow? Hell yes.

Myth #3: I can get a job without it and be just fine.

I have to admit, you’re partially right on this one – Taco Bell doesn’t require you to work at a newspaper in order to fold up chalupas. (This goes the other way, too. My journalism degrees aren’t going to help me learn to fold up a taco like a normal human being.)

If you’re serious about journalism as a future career, you’re going to need an internship to show you can work out in the real world. Real-life editors want to see your success and abilities outside of a campus bubble. No-brainer.

To get that internship locked down, however, you’re going to have to have had a few bylines to your name first.

And sorry, Dr. Kates, but a synthetic story about Kittatinny and Mayor Petykiewicz is not going to impress a newspaper’s group editor. You need to prove you had the drive and dedication to step outside of your classwork and put that education to good use.

Yes, while I love spending my days and nights running back and forth between the Royal Purple office and the UWW-TV edit suites, I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say there’s a grand scheme involved with it. Each and every night, I’m evaluating if what I’ve done the day prior is still keeping me on track for my strategy.

I’m out here plotting to beat all of you to the race to Craig Schreiner’s studio for the Hired Before Graduation. Give me a run for my money, literally. Join the RP. Mother knows best.

Fool me once, shame on you

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Call me a stickler or a buzz-kill, but I’m not a huge fan of April Fool’s Day.

It’s not because I don’t like a good prank or a little bit of fun – NBC’s “The Office” is my favorite show. Jim Halpert had my heart from the first stapler in Jell-O. I fully appreciate humor, and the talent it takes to pull off a masterpiece deception.

I start to dislike April Fool’s Day, from a journalist’s perspective, when it starts to mislead people.

Take the article from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire above. I clicked on it, being aware of the date and knowing well enough it was probably a joke. At the end of the article, it said, “Happy April Fool’s Day!”

But here’s the problem: one, unlike what our human psychology likes to convince us, our brains do not, in fact, all think alike, and two, people don’t consistently read all the way to the end of articles, ever. This is Journalism 101. Most of the time, if you can get people to go farther than scrolling past it, that’s an accomplishment in itself.

Some people might not think this is a joke – which yes, is the point of April Fool’s Day – but then they won’t get down to the bottom of the story to find out it’s false.

I feel it is wrong for people who are trusted to be telling the truth and not delude their audiences – news outlets, public sector organizations such as universities and non-profits and politicians – to knowingly publish incorrect information. You have to understand what the significance of your name means. Someone is likely to believe your joke, if it’s coming from a source that hasn’t lied to you in the past.

That’s breaking trust with people, and leaving them to feel stupid. It’s toeing the line of bad taste, no matter what your intentions may be.

April Fool’s Day should be reserved for people to personally pull pranks and have fun. Don’t use your power as an informer of the people to poke fun at them.

An Achille’s heel


A throwback to my freshman year, as an infantile me served as the Photo Editor for the RP. Sans glasses, red lipstick and the ability to straighten my hair, apparently. Photo by Amber Levenhagen.

Being a college journalist comes with a lot of perks. It keeps you busy, gives you a way to put your education to use and allows you to see your hard work get published.

But it comes with hidden side effects. A loss of sleep, the constant use of computers which will require you to get glasses only a year in, being seen as a journalist, rather than a student.

Earlier last week, a woman of whom I’d interviewed for 15 minutes at the beginning of the semester stopped as she walked past the UWW-TV edit suites just so she could say, “Oh my gosh, you’re that journalist girl!”

It’s at this point you’re ready to say to me, “But Kim, isn’t it good that you’re seen as a journalist? Isn’t that what you want?”

In some ways, yes. Absolutely, I want to be seen as one of the “journalist girls” on campus. It allows me to look at my work, and know I’m making at least a little bit of a difference with the words I write. It validates that I’ve worked hard enough during the past three semesters in order to accomplish that.

But I still mind it a little when I see how it negatively impacts me, because I have yet to develop a skin that can’t be pierced. I still have an Achille’s heel: I’m not always viewed as a student first, at an institution where I should be.

That heel comes in the form of how I watch myself being treated, in comparison to other students. I watch our chancellor sometimes be very short and frank with me when addressing me, only to turn to another student and have a conversation with them as I stand there. Other administrators, faculty and students do the same. Many won’t talk to me on certain topics they’d talk about with anyone else, simply because they look at me not as a student, but as a journalist who wants to take down the entire university, one piece at a time.

It’s a hard idea to wrap your head around, that your treatment is so drastically linked to what you prefer to do. It certainly doesn’t help the issue of campus climate, to preach tolerance only to treat students differently based on their job title. I deserve as much attention as a student who works clerical or works as an intern in the Career and Leadership Development office.

We’re all students first at this point in our lives, and it’s easy for others to forget that with journalism majors.

I’ll take some of the responsibility for that, though. My email signature when I first got here read “Royal Purple | Photo Editor,” and nothing else. It took until last fall for me to add above it that I was a journalism and electronic media major. I unashamedly introduce myself as the News Editor for the Royal Purple, or the News Director for UWW-TV when I’m asked what I do.

My image, from the standpoint of others, is partially my own fault, but when I get snubbed, that it doesn’t make it sting any less sometimes.

At the end of the day, however, if this one of the sacrifices I have to make in order to become one of those “journalist girls,” I’ll take it. It’s a side effect I can live with, because I’m proud of my profession, and I wouldn’t want to be anything else.

It’s what the real world will be like anyways.

Political campaign might contribute to campus hatred

For college students, the presidential campaign seems like a far-off land where a rich bigot and two career politicians are in a street brawl for the GOP nomination, and the two Democratic candidates, one an “email-deleter” and the other a “socialist,” are politely disagreeing over the path to the same goals.

I’d like to argue that assumption is dead wrong – especially in the case of Donald J. Trump. At first glance, one might think these campaigns won’t impact college students until the first Tuesday of November.

Sorry, Donald Drumpf. (I’ll get it right next time, John Oliver. I promise).

Most notably, I can see his words and his beliefs reflected in our own UW-Whitewater students through numerous issues with campus climate. 

We’ve had people dropping the n-word on Snapchat and residence hall bulletin boards like they’ve suddenly been possessed by racist ghosts of our country’s past.

Now we have more people taking to Snapchat to record someone using a mobility device, struggling to get around snow-covered walkways. It’s obviously a funny joke to whoever posted it, as they place the “crying-and-laughing” emoji over the video.

Since when is someone having a difficult time getting around a joke? Since Trump decided to throw his toupee (or whatever his hair is) in the ring for presidency, that’s when.

In the past nine months, he has attacked individuals of the black, Latino and Asian ethnicities. He has proposed a ban of all Muslims from entering the United States. He has gone after women, most notably Megyn Kelly, for having “blood coming out of everywhere” when she challenged him on his answer in a debate.

He said on ABC’s “the View” he’d date his daughter Ivanka if she wasn’t, you know, half of his DNA. A few months ago, he mocked a journalist with a disability. Last month, he refused to condemn the KKK on “Meet the Press,” until receiving national pressure to later do so.

Think about our own campus climate now. Is any of this starting to hit home just a little too hard? Might Trump’s behavior be rubbing off onto a country, one that was formerly known for freedom and righteousness?

As I watched former Royal Purple News Editor Alexandria Zamecnik write her stories about campus, she never had to write about UW-W students mocking the disabled, or racism to the point where the Huffington Post wrote about our discrimination. We as a staff never had to write about the campus climate. Granted, it was happening because microaggression is everywhere, but not at this rate.

I don’t even think the news editor before the two of us, Michael Riley, had to sift through issues like this. While Zamecnik and Riley both had continual controversies they wrote about that defined their careers as news editor, mine is going to be defined by campus-wide political unrest and bigotry.

And I think Trump is to blame for that. He’s proven to the country that one can still rise to the top of the polls while being an “everything-ist” pig.

He’s proven this to the country and Whitewater students. It leads people to think it’s acceptable to mock others and deepen divisions.

Enough is enough. As a campus, we need to decide that, no matter our race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, religion or ability, we don’t approve of this campus climate – and this national climate.

We need to go out to the polls on April 5 for the primary election, and vote for a candidate – from either side of the aisle – who doesn’t act like a schoolyard bully, encouraging others to act just like him.

That’s not who we are as individuals, and certainly not who we are as a campus. Knock it off with the discrimination already.

A love for politics gone too far

Kimberly Wethal

Anyone who knows me could tell you I love to talk politics.

Whether the person I’m talking with loves it or not is a different story.

It took until last month at the Dem Debate where I realized how much I loved it. Politics surround almost every aspect of a person’s life; there’s really no limit to what you can write and report on – the politicians on both sides of the aisle will fight about anything.

It’s gone as far to make me consider adding a poli-sci minor.

For two months this summer, those who know me will have a break from hearing me talk about it – to them, anyways.

I’ll be headed to the heart of Washington, D.C. this summer, where the rush and adrenaline from the one night of the Dem Debate will be my everyday as an intern/student at the Institute of Political Journalism.

I don’t know what media outlet I’ll be working at yet, but I know I’ll be in my own little paradise. Grabbing photos of protestors outside the Supreme Court. Walking the halls of the Capitol trying to grab my next story.

Sure, they’ll have a two-month break – but just imagine what they’ll have to deal with when I get back.

A new rebellious spirit

Here's a photograph of a dog, because if you read the blog post below, you'll understand why I don't have art from the event I'm talking about.

Here’s a photograph of a dog, because if you read the blog post below, you’ll understand why I don’t have art from the event I’m talking about.

If you’d have met my father in his prime as a teenager and young adult, you would have thought of him as a hell-raiser.

He was redneck, police-ditching, “I let a Vaseline-smeared pig loose in the school as a prank” sort of rebel, one of which I’m glad I never met.

It’s absolutely safe to assume that this redneck rebel’s daughter, a bookworm with dreams of being a writer instead of a nurse – like HE wanted her to be – did not have that same streak of “FU, authority” running through her veins.

That is, until 4:30 p.m. this last Tuesday. My father’s long tenure of being the only one to fight the power was finally passed on to me.

It was aimed straight at our Chancellor, and the Campus Climate Working Group, who so conveniently decided that it was a good idea to prevent student journalists from photographing and taking video of the Action Forum held this last week.

The Action Forum was held as a way for the Working Group to gain perspective on how to fix injustices on campus. It was advertised as a public meeting, where anyone could walk in and listen.

Yet I (a student who could have gained full rights, had she not been branded with the negativity of being a journalist) was not allowed to do my job. The reasoning: allowing students to speak freely without “fear” of cameras.

Student journalists also had to sit in the back of the Hamilton Room, and could not walk through the tables of attendees, as another method of “protection” in a public setting.

With last week’s media coverage of the facial mask controversy, I can understand why administration felt the need to censor journalists. The first result when you Google UW-W is the Snapchat photo of the two students. From a PR standpoint, it doesn’t look great.

So I complied, because it’s more important to get the story and pick my battles, over not be allowed to cover it at all. That doesn’t mean I agree with the policy.

And by “policy,” I mean denial of First Amendment rights. The media and the public are one in the same; if students have the right to speak freely to the public, I have the right to report on it. Anyone who’s taken an American history class should know that.

If the university wants to look open and responsive to students following the acts of racism, cutting out the people who can help them most do that is detrimental to them. Furthermore, it proves to me that they care about their image more than their own students. If they truly wanted their students to be heard, they would have allowed photos and video to be taken to help spread their messages.

They don’t want that, because it shows the truth – race relations have been an ongoing problem for years, and they’ve only just started paying attention.

This was the first time that I truly felt rebel spirit my father has always had. I wanted to fight them, and their decision. I wanted to stand up for myself, and for those whose stories were at risk of never being told to anyone outside of the Hamilton Room. They wanted silence, unless they could moderate the noise.

And I am, by telling people. By making others aware of the injustices served to the students discriminated against, whether it be their skin color, their sexual or gender identity or their career choice.

Maybe my father’s rebellious spirit isn’t so bad after all.

Making changes

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I found this assignment to be incredibly frustrating, because it gave me unrealistic expectations as to what a college kid could do.
I read over all of the reading material and thought each concept was a no brainer.
And then I tried to implement it.
I had to close my laptop a few times because I felt I was spinning my tires deep in code I didn’t understand.
I’d look at the home page of my blog in disgust each and every time I reopened it.
I needed a reality check: I shouldn’t expect to click a few buttons and gaze upon a CNN-esque homepage. They’ve paid for their page to look a certain way, every element syncing up in harmony.
I found myself trying out the looks of different themes, settings within those themes, the coloring. Nothing made it look like what I envisioned it could.

I tried to change a few things, though; here’s what I managed to do:


  1. Added more to my menu

-Instead of having just an “About Kimberly” tab, I decided to put news, features on it as well, as well as a search bar. Other news websites had a menu full of different tabs, so that’ll be something to continue to work on as I go throughout the class.

  1. Made my pictures bigger along the left side of the page

-This is a pretty common occurrence and a consistent layout design for websites and newspapers alike. Just makes sense for me to continue to do that with my stories and posts from now on.

  1. Added an external link to my blog

-My blog now has a link to my external website (one I have to pay for), just as a way to link it with to a satellite site. CNN does this often, with CNNMoney, as an example.

  1. Saved white space by removing my page’s title

-Instead, I placed it in the header photo. The title header itself was taking up too much space and left a lot of white on the top of my blog page, so I decided to get rid of it.

Peaked, and piqued


My collegiate journalism career peaked last night – and all I could think about what search engine optimization.

I found myself waltzing in a room lined with Facebook-blue covered tables and large screen TVs yesterday afternoon surrounded by the state and the nation’s greatest journalists. We were all there, in a press filing room in UW-Milwaukee’s Student Union while anxiously waiting to hear what former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) were going to squabble about tonight.

I was a lowly peasant from the Royal Purple in a room of royalty reporters, photographers and videographers from the AP, CNN and the likes. It gave me hope I would someday return after making a name for myself, while humbling me the instant I walked into the room.

I got physically and mentally swept up in student activists protesting for a student worker’s union. I talked those holding signs in all-caps, “Hillary for Jail 2016.” It was dumb luck that my news team and I happened to be interviewing a member of the UW-M College Republicans as the police forced them to move their table – for the third time that night.

Doing all of this in high heels, may I add.

And this whole time, I was thinking about search engine optimization.

This week’s content could not have come at a better time.

In the beginning of the week, I was looking to figure out how I could optimize my stories when posted to the Royal Purple news page. Last night I was figuring out how I could tweet out the messages of the people around me so they could be seen by the outside world. I consciously thought about how I could write my story in order to get the most viewers possible to the Royal Purple’s website.

I actually pondered the headline I was going to write, in order to make sure it was searchable. Thirteen hours later, I’m studying the analytics.

While I’m pretty sure my college career peaked, my interest in how to increase my online presence piqued, too.