Kitty Corner: Being a college journalist is just glorified navel-gazing

Kitty Guo | Daily Trojan

Here’s a helpful test to determine your suitability for the Daily Trojan: Do you enjoy getting recognized for your achievements? Do you wish for your accomplishments to be acknowledged? Do you want others to credit you for your hard work? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then college journalism may not be right for you.

It’s no secret — indeed, it’s become kind of a running joke — that, other than the poor fools who slave over it day in and day out, no one with an ounce of sense or a semblance of a social life pays any attention to the school newspaper. I’d be forced to deploy both hands in order to count the number of times someone has asked me, “Does anyone actually read the Daily Trojan?”

No. No one reads the Daily Trojan. Every article is just an exercise in navel-gazing. We produce content for the void.

OK, so I’m a drama queen. But it’s true that it’s hard to imagine anyone logging into our site on the daily except us, our sweetly supportive parents (Hi, Mom and Dad) and a handful of disgruntled middle-aged white men who have dedicated their lives to single-handedly tearing down the liberal college bubble in the comments section.

Art by Effren Villanueva | Daily Trojan

Five nights a week, I am hunched over in the newsroom, erasing a comma here, inserting an em dash there, laboring over minutiae, the reason being, I can only assume, to preempt an especially astute reader from sending in an angry manifesto lamenting the sloppiness of student journalists these days and that the quality of this paper has gone to seed. This commitment to excellence and conscientious attention to detail recently won the DT a Newspaper Pacemaker Award. It is, I promise, very prestigious.

If I’m being totally honest, if the test was a real gauge of fitness, I am fundamentally unsuited for the newspaper. I crave validation, absolutely live for the moments when people tell me they enjoyed my writing. I get unduly excited when someone reads my column of their own volition, without me shoving the link in their face. I’ve yet to resort to promoting my pieces on Facebook, but that’s mostly because my aversion to sharing on social media overpowers my hankering for “likes” and “great job!”s.

Yet, despite my bellyaching, here I am. It’s a thankless job, sure, but a gratifying one as well; the two are not mutually exclusive. Labor-intensive as it is, I am proud of my exertion of effort, proud that the finished product is clear, concise and Oxford comma-free. And an audience is nice, but not requisite, for me to derive meaning from the process of coaxing my thoughts out of my brain and onto the page. But it’s nice.

If you’ve made it this far, then you must understand: My continued insistence on churning out content is made possible by readers like you. Thank you.

Kitty Guo is a sophomore majoring in journalism and computational linguistics.  She is also the lifestyle editor of the Daily Trojan. Her column, “Kitty Corner,” runs every other Wednesday.

2 replies
  1. Kiana Van Vlack
    Kiana Van Vlack says:

    I am not a journalist myself (archaeology major), but I do pick up a copy of the paper every day to see what is going on. I appreciate the hard work you all put in and I can definitely see how you feel you are yelling into an empty well. I have heard this from many journalism friends of mine but if it makes you feel better- thank you for all the work you put in and I am proud of you girlie!

  2. Samantha Diaz
    Samantha Diaz says:

    If it’s any small consolation, I too am a college journalist who spends night after night working on a paper I’m almost positive no one reads. I related to this article more than I can put into words, as I’m sure many student journalists can, down to the constant erasing and inputting of commas and endless berating of middle-aged white men ruling the comments section.

    Yet here I am, lying in my bed on my laptop and checking the Daily Trojan just for the Lifestyle section and, of course, the Kitty Corner (I’m a sucker for cats and for columns, so you got me twice).

    From one Lifestyle Editor to another, you’re doing great.
    (But who listens to journalists anyway?)

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