The student newspaper has always been a way for students to express their opinions and exercise their right to free speech. On Saturday, Oct. 21, Fairfield Mirror staff, both new and old, gathered in the Dolan School of Business for a panel to celebrate 70 years of student press at Fairfield University. The panel was held in a “interviewer- interviewee” fashion, with the University’s own Matthew Tullis, director of digital journalism, leading the event.
The panel was formed in order to ignite a historical discussion of student press throughout the years at Fairfield University. Those featured on the panel included current Editor-in-Chief Allison White ‘18, along with former editors-in-chief, Christina Hennessy ‘92, Melissa Campanelli ‘88 and Tom Dunn ‘72. As for the structure of the panel, Tullis interviewed the alumni and current EIC for the majority of the event, with the panel opening up to questions from the audience for the last half hour.
A highlight of the event was the discussion on journalism moving out of the age of print and into the digital era. Hennessy, who now works for Hearst Publications, commented, “Employers today want to see more than just someone who knows how to write. In today’s world, even a general knowledge of video and audio software editing proves to be especially valuable.”
Hennessy stressed that in the digital age, journalists no longer possess the luxury of focusing all their energy on the physical, printed newspaper. With so many different forms of social media available to the average person today, journalists now have to make sure all the news is available on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and other online platforms.
The panel also utilized their experience in the field to provide tips to students in attendance on how to succeed in the journalism industry. “Every single story you do is a sort of entrepreneurial endeavor … every time you pitch a story you have to sell it,” said Tullis.
The theme of entrepreneurship in journalism continued to flourish as the panel touched upon topics such as freelance writing and starting your own columns. Panel members stressed that in order to be a successful journalist, you must be quick thinking and able to adapt should the situation change.
Alumni Thomas Moore ’85, a professor of journalism at York College in New York and a contributor to CBS news radio part-time, spoke with The Mirror over the phone, as he was unable to make it to the panel. “You have to be more entrepreneurial than ever because there are so many places on the web to produce news for; it’s a way to break into the business,” said Moore.
Moore stressed the idea that journalists coming out of college today should, as well as being confident in their writing, have a general sense of how to form both audio and video content, in order to stay relevant in today’s digital world.
Seeing as attendance to the event was significantly lower than expected, everyone was given the opportunity to have their questions answered, with topics ranging from old school printing techniques to stories that shouldn’t have been run; students were encouraged to propose any questions or concerns they may have about a future career in journalism.
The panel provided an opportunity for alumni to bask in their glory days, as well as allow students a glimpse into a newspaper experience that differs from their own. Because of the positive feedback the event received, Professor Tullis says he looks forward to organizing more journalism-related events like this in the future.