CUMMINGS: Learning journalism in the basement of Johnston Hall


Marquette Wire Staff, 2016-’17

I had this dream growing up that one day I would moderate a presidential debate on CNN. As I welcomed the viewers back from the commercial break, I would speak with the ease of Anderson Cooper and ask the hard questions with the political wit of Chris Matthews.

I’ve always loved journalism. I’ve been watching the news with my dad since I was a child, and I dorkishly adored my high school newspaper.

This love for communications has not faltered in my college years, as the Marquette Wire has been without a doubt my favorite part of Marquette. I am now about to complete my second year working for the Opinions desk, I have been a DJ for a number of Marquette Radio shows and I have helped out with some of the broadcasts at basketball games. I was once even trusted to cover the Republican presidential debate downtown with MUTV.

What’s unique, though, is that I am one of the few editors at the Wire who is not a journalism student. I major in political science and international affairs. In fact, I have never even had a class in Johnston Hall.

Thanks to student media, however, I know the halls of this building all too well and have learned more about journalism than I ever could have asked for.

Looking back, I find that I have been able to learn and grow in a distinct and beneficial way. Student media has allowed me to learn journalism in a practical sense, outside of the classroom and from other students.

In this group of students with different ages, majors and positions, I’ve learned broadcast, print and everything in between. Each of the people I have met in the last few years has their own unique style. Learning from them, I have constructed my own style, which I have had the pleasure of passing onto others the same way a lot of it was passed onto me.

Most of my student media friends have heard the story of my first column once, twice or maybe even 10 times. I was just hired and put on the budget for my first opinions piece. In what must have been an absolute scare for the editors, I sent in my column to be read the night before publication. After reading my work, Drew Dawson, executive director at the time, sat me down in a very grandfatherly way to kindly explain I had done nearly everything wrong. Still to this day, it was one of the most necessary and worthwhile conversations I have had in the basement of Johnston Hall.

My work with student media has impacted my collegiate experience in more than a few ways. I met some of the best people, to begin. My fellow opinions friends, Ryan, Morgan and Elizabeth (Bitty), who otherwise I would not have met while confined to my public policy and government classes, will be friends of mine for life, and I have learned so much from them. MU Radio has even entrusted our outspoken and opinionated crew with a radio show this semester called, “You Can’t Handle the Truth.” Feel free to tune in on Thursday nights.

Furthermore, while working for Opinions I have been able to take what I learned in my political science classes and apply it to my work on the pages of the Tribune. Writing political columns, making podcasts about election predictions and writing about other social issues in Milwaukee has contributed to the pages of our newspaper and helped me tremendously in the classroom.

What I owe to student media cannot adequately be summed up in one meager column. My time at Marquette would not have been as great or beneficial if it weren’t for late nights with some of the most talented students I have ever met. So from a non-journalism student who found a niche in Johnston Hall nonetheless, thank you, student media.