Why I Joined The News-Letter, and Why You Should Too

By ROLLIN HU | August 31, 2017

My pursuit in journalism began with a romantic pursuit of the editor-in-chief of my high school newspaper.

Both pursuits ended on mediocre terms at that time.

My copy-editing skills were so bad that I was only allowed to edit articles “under supervision.” All of my articles were factually inaccurate, which I guess made sense as I was the satire editor. Regarding the other pursuit, I won’t divulge any details to spare her the embarrassment of being associated with me.

Once at Hopkins, I figured I would try working for their newspaper. Out of either low journalistic standards or a genuine desire to support aspiring reporters, The News-Letter’s editors let me write articles my freshman year.

They must have liked my work, so I served as a News & Features editor the next year. I learned quite a bit about Hopkins, the people in it and how to copy-edit (sort of). Now I’m one of the two editors-in-chief, leading this 122-year-old institution through the swamp and rabble known as the “media.”

Past editors-in-chief of The News-Letter include Alger Hiss, (probable) Soviet spy, and Caleb Deschanel, father of actress and singer-songwriter Zooey Deschanel. And now I have joined the ranks of such figures in producing this weekly 24-page newspaper that records the events, ideas and people of this University.

Such work is not easy. It involves tediously transcribing audio, cobbling together newspaper layouts and deleting Oxford commas. It means critically thinking about the problems that confront our peers and neighbors while confronting our own innate biases. And it involves doing all that with midterms, essays and other club meetings heaped upon us every week. But still, this work is entirely worth it.

We are now in a time where reliable, fact-based news is essential to understanding what is going on in our society. Over the course of the last year, we saw norms, institutions and people change.

Some of our coverage fit into a larger national story, such as students joining in the Women’s March, or a graduate student detained at Dulles airport simply because he was born in Iran.

Some of our other coverage was more Hopkins-specific. We reported on everything from the trials of a department struggling to stay open to the rise of our Facebook meme page. We take a snapshot of what’s going on, what people are thinking and who we fundamentally are as Hopkins students.

The News-Letter is an editorially and financially independent institution. That means we, the editors alone, are the sole gatekeepers of what can appear on our pages. The content we produce can only be as good as the people making it, and I believe we have some damn good people on our staff. We will not be perfect. I can only hope that our greatest mistakes will be missing a couple of commas.

So it is up to you, reader, to actually read this newspaper. Keep us accountable. Keep us humble. We make this newspaper specifically for you. And, if you are so inclined, write for us. The only way to keep The News-Letter a student-run paper is if students actually run it.

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