Mother knows best: Join the Royal Purple

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 11.27.53 PM

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

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 10.01.33 AM

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.