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GOZUN: Student media maintains impact in face of challenges

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gozun colorDuring the first semester of my freshman year, I entered Marquette with the intention of majoring in journalism. As part of that major’s curriculum, I was required to take a one-credit course called “Practicum in Student Media” with Steve Byers. Essentially, the class was listening to Byers talk for an hour once a week and writing articles for one of campus’s student media publications. As the former editor-in-chief of my high school newspaper, I thought the Tribune would be a natural fit and I made it a point to receive my first assignment from them.

Before even arriving on campus, I knew I wanted to work for the Tribune, and so I viewed the class mainly as an avenue to achieving that goal. I was hired in September, and with me writing an article each week, soon fulfilled the class’s article requirement. After that point, I don’t really remember too much about the class, though one point has remained with me seven semesters after taking that course.

“May you live in interesting times,” Byers told us. The quote is supposedly a Chinese curse, though one of questionable authenticity, that dooms its target to a lifetime of struggle. Periods of rapid change and conflict, like times of war, have always held more interest in the public imagination than those of relative peace and prosperity. For those of us sitting in that class, the phrase served more as a warning than a curse: the world of media was changing, and if we did not adapt, we would not make it in this brave new world.

Since those days, much has changed. I left the College of Communication and declared a new major. Byers retired. Johnston Hall got new bathrooms. And the Tribune was made into a component of the new Marquette Wire as part of a reorganizational campaign for student media.

It seems that every year, those of us working at the Tribune would receive some dire news regarding the future of our newspaper. Like the rest of the media world, the Tribune is not immune to the decline of print and has fought to prove its relevancy as the public’s eye moves away from newsstands and onto tablets.

Every year came talks of budget cuts, lost pages and reduced positions. Working at the Tribune, I never really knew how the next year would play out because every May promised a dramatic change to the way things worked. Despite this uncertainty, the Tribune has grown and thrived. Were you to compare a Tribune from 2011 to the one you are reading now, you may be convinced that they are not the same publication. While there have been issues with the transition to a web-focused publication, what we have been able to accomplish online with limited resources is something to be proud of.

This isn’t just me tooting my own horn. I’ll admit that this year, despite being on staff, I’ve been absent from the Tribune newsroom, content to submit a weekly column and leave the rest to the experts. It makes me proud to say the person in charge of student media next year was once a mere reporter who I would let edit other people’s stories for the fun of it. It makes me even more proud to know, without a doubt, that he and the rest of the staff will do a great job.

If there is anything I wish for the future of the Tribune, it is that the hard work and determination of the people behind it not go unnoticed. As a writer, the best payment I can receive is the knowledge that the things I create can have an impact on the lives of those on campus and beyond. The paltry stipend we receive is nothing compared to the feeling of seeing others reading the Tribune or commenting on an article. Our goal at the Tribune is to stimulate conversations and it’s always nice to hear back from the other side.

As a campus newspaper, the Tribune is one of the only places where students can have their voices heard on issues that matter only to them. The truth is most towns with 8,000 people do not have their own newspaper to talk about local issues. The fact Marquette does is a gift that should be embraced by more people. And unlike some other college newspapers, the Tribune has escaped the increasing politicization that plagues the rest of the nation. The Tribune staff is diverse in both backgrounds and opinions, and in the end, it has been, and will forever be, a champion of free speech and open dialogue.

And so my fellow Tribbers, especially Becca, Joe and Rob, with whom I have had the honor of working with since my freshman year, it’s been a good run. We truly have lived in interesting times and though we’ve been warned of them, I can’t help but say that they’ve been a blessing rather than a curse.

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