Welcome To The National Daily Student!
Hello and welcome! If you are reading this brochere you have just took your first step towards becoming a member of College State University's Daily national STudent! The road to sucess is long and hard; so we have supplied you with all the information every Collegiate Journalist needs to get off to a good start.
At College State University we take college journalism seriously. Every student in our journalism program is involved. We are so involved, in fact, that we commissioned one of the program's top students to write the first paragraph of this brochure! If you want to learn to display the same talent (and devotion to the craft we call journalism) keep reading, because we have the perfect job for you!
Of course, there are a few rules. CSU respects every student's right to Individuality, Unity, and Diversity (as per our famed IUD program), but to ensure that everyone shares the same amazing collegiate experience at the Daily National Student, we ask that you learn the basic writing framework before continuing on:
Here is a stock photo of a squirrel. On average, we like to run two squirrel stories a week, preferably about their beautiful history on campus and how we need to respect their rights.
The semicolon is your friend: The semicolon is more than just a boring punctuation mark. It is also a status symbol. Semicolon usage denotes education. It tells the reader that the journalist they're reading is smart, educated, and well-versed in current events. Using one seperates you from those other journalists – why use a period or a comma when you can pepper your piece up with an esoteric mark most people utilize three times in their entire lives? If you don't believe us, just look at the stats: the use of semicolons is up 43% in the last ten years, and the trend is still rising!
At the National Daily Student we understand this, and as such we encourage the aspiring student journalist to use the semicolon at every possible opportunity. We offer weekly workshops on semicolon use, and a good portion of our weekly critique section is devoted to "The Count," a hip way to show students how semicolons are still hip and relevant in today's fast-paced youth culture. "The Count" commends students for their use of semicolons, and gives the top semicolon user of the week an exciting prize! Past rewards have included a bottle of virgin daiquiri mixer and an autographed copy of the New Radicals' self-titled album. We know how you kids like to party!
Curse words are your other friends: The transition from high school to college can be a tough one indeed. Students are asked to thrive in a new, less-structured world, one where wearing a Big Johnson shirt to class could end up in a First Amendment lawsuit, not an expulsion!
Cursing is edgy. It shows that we're not afraid to report the hard news. Stuff other papers might back away from. Reviewing an album? Be sure to include a line that has a curse word in it, just because you can! Running a hard-hitting exposé on racism? Interspersing your article with words like "nigger" is an edgy, provocative way to push your agenda while still trying to meet your quota of three curse words per article. If you had two quotes from a source, one of which is relevant to the story and another which contains the word "motherfucker", which one would you choose?
Well, if you picked the latter, welcome to the National Daily Student. We have a lot more training for you, so read on.
Our weekly humor strip, "Recycled Life," shows just how fun (and funny) life at the NDS can be.
Now that you understand our style of writing, it's time to learn our style of living. National Daily Student employees are hip, with it, and good to go, plus a number of other words we hear floating around the newsroom! To help you in your quest to "walk the walk," we have compiled a short list of rules you should always keep in mind.
To begin: Any chance you get to mention the fact that you do, in fact, work for the NDS should be taken with extreme prejudice. Our standards say that ninety percent of the sentences that come from your mouth should begin with some variation of the phrase "Well, I work for the National Daily Student, and…"
Why? Because it works. Letting people know your job tells them that you are an important, successful person, and in no way a narcissistic, boorish idiot with bland opinions and hackneyed ideas about social reform.
When not name-dropping your job in class it is important to stay involved at all times. The NDS reporter is smart, with-it, and good to go: in short, he needs to talk as much as, if not more than, the teacher to assure the education his dad bought is worth the money. Making yourself relevant to any given conversation is an important journalistic tool. We practice common courtesy, however – a good rule of thumb is to listen to at least five seconds of a conversation before interjecting with your own take on things.
Completing the NDS package is what we like to call "The Look". Upon hiring every NDS reporter is given a fashionable outfit he is expected to wear as often as possible. The getup includes an olive-green faux-army jacket, a bottle of maximum strength hair gel, a black messenger bag with your choice of two (2) obscure band patches sewn on, and a pair of cargo khakis that are a little too baggy in the ankles. While you are not expected to wear this at all times, all other outfits should include at least a feature a conspicuously-placed iPod.
We take a three-pronged, hierarchical approach to journalism. Since you'll be starting at the bottom of our "Ladder to Success," we'll start the introductions there, even though we're sure you'll be at the top of the pack soon!
Staff Reporters: The National Daily Student standard of quality can only be reached if our staff reporters are the cream of the crop (or the crème de la crème, as the French like to say). We are blessed with a multitalented, diverse staff that eats, drinks, and breathes nothing but news.
Friends are easy to make among the reporters. The trick is simply this: Act like you do not like anything. Our reporters are a world-weary, well-traveled group of twenty-year-olds. They have seen it all and they are jaded by what this world has to offer. While your experience with the NDS will undoubtedly allow you to share this worldview with them one day, your best bet is to fake it until you can.
For instance, say a group of colleagues is talking about music. A good strategy would be to stand and nod your head while they are talking, and then strike when they inevitably run out of breath:
"Yeah, I really liked Death Cab for Cutie until they sold their soul to the corporate machine," you might interject.
Youth culture, too, is a popular issue with our reporters. Say, for instance, they are discussing the popular mall store "Hot Topic." How would you endear yourself to your fellow reporters? Here is a good starter:
"Hot Topic is just so… I don't know, fake. It's like, they're selling stuff as part of some rebellion when really they're just another cog in the corporate machine. Kind of like Death Cab for Cutie."
Editors: Our editors command respect because they worked hard to get where they are. NDS policy says a person must have at least one semester's experience to be considered for our editorial staff, and some people work for as many as two or three before promotion!
Editors, by nature, are very dramatic people. Please do not think it is because they are incredibly boring people and they have nothing important in their lives to take seriously! It is actually quite the opposite. A college newspaper editor has one of the most important jobs on campus, if not within the nationwide educational system. Student newspapers are bastions of quality and journalistic integrity, and editors have to be sure to hold strict scrutiny to everything that runs on their pages.
As such, there will be the occasional altercation. It is a normal, healthy thing, and we want to stress that you should not worry. For instance, let's take this hypothetical situation:
Lifestyles Editor Tammi is in a rage. For the third week in a row a less-than-stellar staff reporter has forgotten to write his name in all caps on his byline, and the page designers are getting snippy because they don't want to hold the shift key any longer than they have to in order to fix his problems.
Tammi is pacing around the room, shaking, waiting on said reporter to come for his shift. She is mumbling just loud enough to let people know that she is, in fact, very angry, and to accentuate her point she starts slamming drawers very loudly.
What would you do in this situation? If you wanted brownie points, you would commiserate with her, and tell her the reporter in question deserves what's coming to him.
Now let's finish the story:
The reporter finally comes in. Tammi has locked herself in the bathroom and is sobbing very loudly over the situation, which is understandable given the gravity of it all. Occasionally you hear a loud thump from the bathroom. Tammy has found some drawers to slam in there, too. The reporter in question comes to you and asks what is going on.
What's the best course of action here? More commiseration, of course! Let the reporter know that Tammi is "flipping her wig" over "some dumb bullshit about the byline," and that "she's going to blow a fuse one day." Remember, part of the journalistic experience is making sure everybody likes you, even if you have to make everyone else hate each other to get there!
Advisors: Hand-selected from the top of the university faculty, our advisors selflessly sacrifice their time helping the student newspaper, when any one of the three could easily be teaching for an ivy-league school. We use an "archetype" system, in which we hire advisors with similar teaching methods, to keep the experience the same for every student, be they here now or ten years from now!
- Aging Hippy Who Will Give You An "A" If You Talk About Music With Him: Mr. Mendelssohn, currently our type-one archetype, might be old but he loves youth culture! He understands that music is, in fact, the universal language, and that if you understand it, you deserve an "A" as long as you put up a token effort in his classes. As student advisor one, Mr. Mendelssohn will be glad to help you make decisions regarding your articles, as long as those articles aren't controversial. He hates confrontation almost as much as he hates the thought of campus security searching his glovebox. But it's no matter – after he vaguely hints that he wants to smoke pot with you, he will be more of a friend and less of a teacher. That's the way it should be! In Mr. Mendelssohn's eyes, no class is complete until he drops five to ten "college students like to party" jokes! Lord knows he still likes to get down, and after a fifteen minute conversation, you will know too!
- Angry Woman Who Uses Any And All Conversation Time To Accuse The University Of Some Wrongdoing: The university is always up to something, and Mrs. Olivera knows all about it. Are they installing a new software system? Mrs. Olivera wants to know how much money the state gave them to test it out, and why she isn't seeing of it on her paycheck. Did the CSU President go on a learning journey to Kenya? Mrs. Olivera wants to know why she doesn't get free paid vacation to jerk off on another continent like that stuffed-shirt bastard. Did Tommy in accounting use a university car to take his kid to the hospital on his lunch break? If he's not back right on time, you know there will be a complaint in the box! With her blind suspicion and basic hatred of anything under forty (with or without a vagina), Mrs. Olivera is the perfect person to show a journalist exactly how to be a journalist.
- Foreign Woman In A Wheelchair: Our third archetype's last name is thirteen letters long, and all thirteen are consonants. As such, we just like to call her "Molly." Molly is from a foreign country long disbanded, and she has overcome great personal adversity in order to help you reach for the stars. CSU's journalism department believes in diversity. Because we believe in diversity, we have created a diverse system of diversity where the truly diverse can revel in the diversity of it all. Molly has been featured in approximately 837 university brochures, and we are proud to say we have a feature story every time "handicap awareness month" or "foreign issue awareness month" comes about. And the best thing? Since you can't understand a word Molly says, you can just make the whole story up! Normally that would be unethical, but we really doubt she can read English, let alone speak it, so why would she care?
Diversity, people. This is what it's all about.
It's almost time! We are excited as you are that you are nearing the point of writing your first stories for the NDS.
We understand the process has been hard. We know you're exhausted from doing so much. But now is not the time to slack off. Chances are you will want to work for something a little easier, like political reporting or science writing. However, we ask that you start in one of our two most challenging departments first, just to see if you've made the cut: Opinions or Arts & Entertainment.
Opinions: Opinion writing is hard. We know it and so do you. For instance, you must have an opinion on something. Then, you have to think about it enough to write 300 words on the subject. Finally, you very well may have to defend your position in follow-up pieces, some of which may require new points to be made!
It's going to be alright, though. There are plenty of great subjects to share your opinions on. Here is a list of ideas to get you started:
- The legalization of marijuana – I mean, it's less harmful than alcohol, right? Do you ever see someone get violent on pot?
- Abortion. This subject has been debated for years and your words on the Opinion page of a small, campus-only college newspaper might just be the thing that sways the issue.
- The quality of dining hall food. This is a perennial hot topic on campus, and the students are looking for a champion to voice their opinion about such an important thing.
- Tuition raises. I mean, gosh, college sure is expensive! Someone should really do something about that! And here is my totally fresh, unique opinion on the subject!
- If you are writing humor, be sure to make fresh, original jokes. For instance, a line about college students surviving on beer and ramen would be a perfect segue into the world of comedy.
With these hints you should be well on your way to becoming the next Andy Rooney (or Louis Grizzard, if that's your thing). Just be sure to thank the NDS when you hit superstardom!
Arts & Entertainment: A&E writing is a lot like opinion writing, only with the extra challenge of watching movies or listening to music. Most people shy away from this kind of work, but if you're willing to shine, it could be your path to the top of the newspaper world!
There is one cardinal rule to writing reviews: People love other peoples' opinions on media. Any form of media. Entertainment reviews are easily the most relevant, important pieces in any given newspaper, and the pressure can be great.
Don’t freak out, though! Remember, before you took this job there were certain movies and music that you liked? Remember that R. Kelley CD you listened to for a whole summer because you lost your virginity on the third track after prom? Who cares if it's like three years old now? Review it, give it five stars, and send it on its way. You can be sure at least one person was hanging on the fence about the album until you gave them the go-ahead.
Movies are a little less subjective. As a student journalist you are required to dislike many forms of film, i.e. anything you could easily find at the movie theater. Unless you had to dig through a flea market bargain bin to find a copy of the movie you're reviewing, it isn't worth the time of day!
To help keep your reviews on track, please clip this list of terms and tape it to your monitor. Be sure to use at least three every review:
- "Mainstream trash"
- "Pointless Hollywood trash"
- "Heartless trash"
- "Soulless trash"
- "I liked it better when the Japanese made it and it was called 'Princess Mononoke'"
With these phrases in mind, as well as a philosophy that a movie isn't good unless it's subtitled, you should be just fine.
This is the last, and arguably the most important, part of our lesson. No writer is perfect. We believe in a spirit of free learning and that spirit can't be reached through any kind of Ouija board! That's why we have peer editing instead!
To Take Is To Learn: There is a right way and a wrong way to react to criticism. Some people sit quietly and thank whoever is critiquing them when they are done. We like to call those people boring and stupid! A real journalist's job is to defend his points at all time, even if he is wrong. We're talking integrity here, people!
For instance, here are two possible responses to a harsh (but fair) critique. Which would you choose?
Option One: Bob, I don’t agree with every point you made, but there was some valid stuff there and I will keep it in mind. Thanks for reading my work.
Option Two: You know what? I think it's bullshit that you have to single me out every fucking time you read my stuff. You're not the goddamn editor, and you don't have the tits to be my mom. Next time you get snippy with me over some dumb shit like not capitalizing at the start of sentences I'm going to leave a period on your forehead with my cigarette. Then you'll look like the goddamn Hadji you are.
Of course, the second option is the only logical one. Not only does it show a fierce spirit of independence, it also demonstrates an edgy, in-your-face attitude that the involved journalist needs when he feels he's being singled out. Which leads us to our next point:
Critique time is politics time: As we mentioned above, being popular in the newsroom is second only to, as our senior editor puts it, writing good. This means that one should cast a slightly softer light on the work of his friends, while giving those newsroom rivals a bit of a tussle. We at the NDS believe this philosophy fosters a competitive, fun environment for all students involved.
Here are two more examples. Both are considered the "right way" to do things – it's your job to figure out who gets what critique.
Option One: You know, this piece may have switched verb tense halfway through, and I think half of it may just be a copy-paste from a press release, but it really shows some promise. I think if you go through and put some punctuation marks in (all the different keys are hard to remember, I know), you could have something special here.
Option Two: This is going to take a lot of work but I think it may look like something a real newspaper could possibly shit out on a bad day if I totally rewrite it. I mean, I know you characterized the main source and all, but do we ever see her walk across a forest? Do we really know her? That and I think you might have misspelled something in your submission notes. No, I know readers don't see it, but it's unprofessional to turn in crap like this to your peer editors, too. Get to work and don’t come back until you pass elementary comp.
Who gets what? Well, if you said anything about "a girl with big boobs" for the first one, you're right! And if your second answer was "advanced placement freshman with a GPA twice as high as mine," you are on the right track!
Well, we have run out of paper and as such our orientation has to end. Still, welcome to the College State University National Daily Student! We look forward to working with you, and we hope your time with us is productive! Remember, you are a unique snowflake and none of the other fifty thousand students here could totally replace you or your unique opinions on the legalization of abortion.
I know that sometimes we at SA can seem like sarcastic, unhelpful jerks, and a lot of that time it may be true. However, when it comes to helping one of our own, we're always glad to offer a Cheeto-stained hand. If you like helping people and you like Crystal Pepsi even more, click here to become part of the solution!