The newsroom is a fantastic place to relax and get work done. However, with more than five people in the room, we all feel claustrophobic.
I transferred to The University of Southern Mississippi this school year. I was so happy to get an email about an opening for the school newspaper and for a chance to be hired. When I walked into the newsroom, I was impressed with what I saw. It looked like a great place to do work. I was especially happy to have a place to be able to get direct help from the students involved.
During my first few weeks of working for the Student Printz, I was happy to have a room where I could rest between classes. Having a room just for the Student Printz has led me to meeting some great new people. When people are stressed about classes and upcoming tests, there was always someone there to help calm them. When everyone is sitting around, we can all make jokes and have a great time while working. I truly do not think this would still be possible after the newsroom is changed into shared offices.
I have been in the newsroom when there were more than five people before, and that seemed like too many people. Imagine having to share a space with 60 people, some not even involved with the Student Printz. I cannot begin to imagine how confusing it will be to have Student Printz members, WUSM members and faculty all in the same room. What if one group needs to hold a meeting?
I think that leads to the need for two offices. When the executive editor needs to have a private talk with a staff member, he has a place to discuss what is going on. It would be awful to be yelled at or told you are not doing a good job in front of everyone. It could lead to embarrassment. It also matters if there is a private issue needed to be discussed.
If a new person wants to join the staff, having to be interviewed in the open can cause anxiety and lead to a bad interview. Going out to the hall is no better as anyone can pass by and cause a distraction. When I was interviewed, I liked the fact I was in a private space having a one-on-one interview. I felt like I could ask any question no matter how stupid it was and get all the clarification I needed.
At my last school, there was not a newsroom for the staff to use. There was an editor’s office and that was it. If the editor was not in the room, it was locked, and no one could use it. If someone needed help with an idea for a story or had any concern about what they were doing, the only way to get help was to email the editor or ask another member of the newspaper staff.
Having said that, the Student Printz newsroom has been a big and welcomed surprise to me. I have enjoyed using it and having a place to talk and meet the other members of the Student Printz. I think if it was changed into faculty offices and a shared space, no one would utilize it the same way as before. Because the newsroom would be surrounded by faculty offices,I would no longer feel like I would have a place to go between classes to study, joke around and get help on stories.
The task of choosing a college is a daunting one. As someone who has had to do so not just once but twice I understand the pressure of making the right choice. When I visited Southern Miss as a potential student in high school and junior college student, I was impressed at how the school seemed to care for its students.
At other schools I was flirting with the idea of attending, I felt like a number. At Southern Miss I felt like a person. I felt as if the faculty would provide myself and my peers with the best resources to be successful.
I was drawn specifically to the Student Media Center located on the third floor of College Hall. The student media center houses student run organizations such as the Student Printz and WUSM that give students real world experience throughout their education. It was fascinating to see the amount of hands on activity available to mass communication and journalism students. I immediately pictured myself thriving in such an environment. The student media center was my selling point; it is what pushed me to choose Southern Miss.
On the third floor of College Hall, creativity and hard work are not only encouraged but flow freely from each student involved. It is not just a workspace. It is a haven for creators and communicators, it is a space for innovation and learning, it is a home. With the academic reorganization the resources and space that are currently available will be taken away.
If this area is taken away it will be to accommodate faculty over the students who are paying to be there. The encroachment of faculty will sensor the creative community on the third floor. It will also cause an uncomfortable work environment for everyone due to overcrowding. Fitting 60 students into a 300 square foot room is less than ideal. It is discouraging that more space for less people was available at my junior college than at the four-year school of my choice.
In junior college the newspaper staff had access to a large workspace that allowed us to spread out. We were able to fit the whole staff in the room at one time which is not possible in the student media center as it is much less once space is taken away. The ability to have office space in the student media center is something students are able to work towards and encourages involvement. Hindering the students’ workspace would hinder creativity and decrease morale.
The Student Printz, WUSM and other organizations have become institutions around the Hattiesburg area. These outlets serve not only students but also the community. The University of Southern Mississippi has always had a strong presence in the journalism community. In order to continue that reputation Southern Miss needs to save the resources that are available to students. If these are taken away it will not only discourage current students but also discourage potential students from pursuing their education at Southern Miss in favor of other schools with more to offer.