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Reporters are human and make mistakes, part 2

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Earlier this semester I wrote an editorial explaining that student journalists at Colorado State University-Pueblo make mistakes and that this is a learning environment.

Please understand that the CSU-Pueblo TODAY staff are not professional journalists, which is why they are taking journalism courses at CSU-Pueblo. And yes, misspelled words and grammatical errors occasionally slip past us. It’s true, we do make mistakes, but then, every publication does.

Like real-world reporters, the staff makes every attempt to report the news accurately, fairly and quickly.  And, like real-world reporters, they too make mistakes. I believe they’re doing a great job considering they’re a non-professional staff.

Journalism is a rewarding but lonely and nerve-wracking experience in which reporters often ask themselves if they chose the right career path. And the reasons are obvious.

Reporters can spend hours arranging for and conducting interviews by phone, e-mail or in person, only to have the interview canceled. Worse yet, reporters often deal with miss-scheduled events, or are denied photographic opportunities because the interviewee doesn’t consider our reporters, “real journalists” (a frequent problem on this campus).

The task becomes more difficult when reporters sit down at the computer to write copy or edit film footage. Sometimes it takes hours to complete a story, and even days when producing a project of lengthy proportion.

Reporters write with one eye on the clock and the other on the keyboard. They write and re-write, and edit and re-edit copy until their eyes blur, only to re-write some more. Reporters deal with cranky interviewees, demanding editors and an indignant public, and often operate on little sleep and lots of black coffee.

I admire our reporters’ dedication and perseverance to provide readers with a finished, informative product. It’s a wonder reporters don’t make more mistakes considering the amount of work they have to complete in such a short amount of time.

Yes, the CSU-Pueblo TODAY staff is not perfect. However, they are, without question, a group of dedicated reporters whose work ethic rivals any publication. In addition to providing news, features and sports, the staff this semester explored creative avenues outside their professional comfort zone.

Zak Bratton, who is managing editor of CSU-Pueblo TODAY magazine, writes a weekly video game column that has generated student interest and positive feedback. Wendy Fidler, who last May graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications, edits feature and entertainment stories during her free time.

Each of these people is an asset to the staff because of their talent, skill and contributions. They do this for the love of the profession, and because they believe that reporting the news is priority one.

It’s interesting to note that it is because of the efforts of this elite group of people that CSU-Pueblo TODAY continues to expand its readership. These reporters give new meaning to the phrase, “Big things come from small packages.”

Yes, you can expect our publication to contain errors because making errors in a learning environment prepares student reporters for the real world. Mistakes happen because –yes, you guessed it – reporters are human.

Instead of pointing out their mistakes, why not thank these student reporters for working to make campus news available to you? Better yet, why not share your ideas with that reporter? I have no doubt that the reporter will appreciate your comments, and that you will inspire the reporter to work harder at bringing you the information you deserve.

William J. Dagendesh is editor in chief of CSU-Pueblo TODAY.  He can be contacted at wj.dagendesh@colostate-pueblo.edu.