Editor’s Corner: I’m asking nicely

Sasha Winterer

[Sasha Winterer]

I am the editor-in-chief of a community college newspaper. That means a lot of things.


It means I’m a student, just like most of you. I go to classes, I take my tests and come back the next day to do it again. I want to graduate, get a job and build a career.


But I’m not just a student. I’m a community college student.


That means I’m part of something.


That means I’m part of a group of people like myself. Some are young, some are old. Some live with their parents, some have places of their own. But we all are here because we want something better for ourselves and we’re actively pursuing it. That’s what makes us a community—we all have something in common. Our community happens to be Citrus College.


The Citrus College Clarion staff—my staff—is made up of community college student journalists.


I’ve explained the student part already. As journalists, it’s our job to bring our readers—our community—the news that’s important to them, whether they know it or not. That’s you. So we go out and look for information so you don’t have to. We don’t mind. We want to know what goes on around campus as much as you do, if not more.


However, in order to give that information out, we need to get that information—fast. For the most part, that’s what happens when the news is good.  When the news is bad, that’s another story.


We consider ourselves the campus news distributor. We are not the campus cheerleaders or public relations staff. Both do an excellent job on their own.  The student part of us wants to know about the bad news, so we can take steps to protect ourselves from the same fates of our less fortunate fellow classmates. The journalist part of us means it’s our job to tell our readers, so they can do just that.


This semester will be my third on the Clarion staff. Each semester, a student journalist runs into problems collecting information for a story that has the possibility of portraying Citrus College in a less-than-perfect light. The holdups are generally minor and few in number, but they still occur often enough that I’m sitting down and dedicating around 500 words to address the situation.


Being an editor-in-chief means you stand up for your writers.


I like Citrus College. So does my staff of bright, mostly inexperienced student journalists who are equally excited and scared about writing for their community college newspaper. What I don’t like is when those writers come back empty-handed because a campus official found it easier to cite the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act than give out public information.


So I’m letting the feet-draggers, the FERPA-citers, the runaround-ers know our demands: the information that’s entitled to us anyway, in a timely manner. Please, go easy on the hassle.


In return, we will not hurt anybody. We will inform. We will respect the privacy of the people involved in our stories as according to federal law, state law and the Society of Professional Journalists’ code of ethics.


I don’t have a snarky, snappy ending for this column. Just a hope that this campus makes a better effort to provide information to students, so we can tell the school community exactly what’s going on. That’s the way it should be.