Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Misdemeanor charges dropped against NU faculty for activity during pro-Palestinian encampment
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Funk: Keep sight of why student journalism matters

In late April of my senior spring, I reported on Northwestern’s campus for the first time in a year and a half. As the pro-Palestinian encampment launched and the University gained national attention, media swarmed Deering Meadow. 

I was in the odd role of being part of the outside media as a freelancer for the Chicago Sun-Times, yet still a part of the NU community. I felt a strange sense of disconnect at the same time, watching as The Daily’s staff maintained 24 hour coverage, while my job did not require the same level of nonstop reporting. 

From my unique position, I could see and appreciate the vitality of student media’s work, while covering the same exact circumstances myself for a broader audience. I haven’t written for The Daily since fall of my junior year, and that distance has given me some perspective.

Being a student journalist can feel like trivial and small work. When you’re covering a campus event with fewer than 10 attendees and you know the only people guaranteed to read the article are your parents, it can start to feel pointless. When you’re navigating complex situations with no guidance, you can feel isolated and in over your head. And when you’re dedicating 40+ hours a week to that job without significant compensation or credit, it gets easy to lose sight of why it matters. 

On those late nights working until the early hours of the morning, there are certain things that keep you going. It’s not money, or a line on your resume or masochism. It’s the friends you make, the only ones who will fully relate to your experiences — and who (I promise) won’t go away when your time at The Daily ends. It’s the pressure of the deadline to get the paper to press. It’s the responsibility of making sure the whole Evanston and Northwestern community will be reflected in the pages. 

And it’s the knowledge that if you aren’t there for the little events, for the day to day stories with small audiences, you won’t be ready when the University starts making national headlines and outside media descends. We all know that local news is a crucial part of the media ecosystem, and so is student journalism. It’s not only the training ground for future professionals, it offers crucial coverage of our generation. Journalism is at its best when reporters know and care about their communities, and that is where student journalism excels.

When journalism starts to feel like a slog and the fear of burn out creeps in, I think of my sources and I think of my audience. If I can make my sources feel heard, even if only by me, or reach one reader that needs to see my story, then I’ve done my job.

When I look back on my time at The Daily, yes I remember every crisis that felt like the end of the world. But I also remember how we always got back up and kept going, how we celebrated the big moments, and how we finished every quarter by staying up all night to watch the sunrise together on the Lakefill.

So to all current and future Daily staffers, here’s my advice: trust yourself but be prepared to grow, hold your friendships close but make sure to live a life outside of the Holly and John Madigan Newsroom, and always remember the responsibility and power of your words.

Email: [email protected]

X: @isabeldfunk

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