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Making Makayla Mad: Living a rough life as a student-journalist

<p>Cars maneuver past construction in front of The Gather Apartments on Southern Avenue.</p>
Cars maneuver past construction in front of The Gather Apartments on Southern Avenue.

I decided to park in the general parking lot in front of the library Thursday morning. I pulled onto Southern Avenue and had to turn down another road because the area in front of The Gather on Southern was blocked. I went all the way to Central Avenue to get to the lot, so my two-minute drive turned into 15 minutes.

The construction in front of The Gather is blocked to reroute power lines for a land bridge — a land bridge that we do not need. While the idea is cool, the headache of months of traffic is not worth it. Traffic is already a pain as it is, and worse, we don’t have a plan for all this traffic.

Helmsman reporter William Sanders wrote a piece on traffic delays in Thursday’s paper. Tony Poteet, assistant vice president of planning and development, said the university will “do our best to minimize the impact to Southern Avenue traffic during the project.”

So what is the plan for when roads are completely shut down to work on the bridge? We could not get a straight answer from anyone.

This leads me into the fact that some administration and important people who we need to talk to for stories make it almost impossible to get our stories done. We work on a deadline.

While I understand that some days you may not have five, 10, 20 minutes to talk to a reporter, at least respond to an email and say that. It is especially annoying when we have simple questions with simple answers that for some reason go unanswered.

Another thing, if you get mad or upset about an inaccuracy in our story, but you did not talk to us, how are we supposed to get it right? If you have a high-ranking position at this university, you may have to talk to a reporter about something that you are overseeing or something that happened — it is part of your job. And we have our own job to do.  

Like every other student on this campus, we are studying and practicing the career we want to pursue for the rest of our lives. Our jobs at The Helmsman as media are to inform the campus community of what they have the right to know.

While some may disagree with the choices we make, we consult professors, many of whom spent years in a newsroom, for input and guidance. We have to trust our instincts and use the knowledge we gain in our classes that prepare us for this career.

As journalists, we are taught to be unbiased in news writing (but this story isn’t news writing — it’s an opinion piece). We have an agenda to tell the truth, no matter how much people try to hide it.

Journalists do great things. For example, former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced Wednesday to 40 to 175 years for multiple sex crimes. Over 150 women relived their sexual abuse at his trial. It was a time of hurt and healing for these women, and it possibly saved hundreds more from Nassar’s abuse.

All this began with an investigative story from the Indianapolis Star, the only daily newspaper in Indianapolis. After an article about USA Gymnastics and sexual abuse claims in August 2016, victim Rachael Denhollander contacted the Star and told her story — one that lead to over 150 victim statements and Nassar’s sentencing. Michigan Assistant Attorney General Angela Povilaitis praised the Star for its investigative work and for stopping Nassar’s abuse, according to CNN.

Speaking of CNN, earlier this week, a man called CNN headquarters in Atlanta with death threats. While CNN made some mistakes — and owned up to many of them — do they deserve death threats? Absolutely not.

We live in a violent world where our own president calls media “the enemy of the American people.” It’s a scary world for people studying journalism. But we are not the enemy. We are simply trying to do our jobs. 

So while some people may think everything we do is unnecessary or “fake news,” it’s my future, and I will continue doing my job no matter what. 

Cars maneuver past construction in front of The Gather Apartments on Southern Avenue.

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