Diary of…a journalist

Li Cohen is a sophomore communication studies major and a news editor at The Current. She is also a member of Sigma Delta Tau, Razor’s Edge and the president of the NSU chapter of Society for Professional Journalists.

When I was in high school, I imagined that college would be this amazing place where I could express my independence by sleeping in, going to class a few times a week and maybe a working a small job on the side if it wouldn’t get in the way of my “me time.”

Boy, oh boy, was I wrong. My day begins at 5 a.m. every day with the same routine: wake up, drink coffee, get ready, drink more coffee, go to work and write articles, have another cup of joe, go home and write some more, rehydrate to even out the coffee, go to class, and finish the day with one final brew and some edits.

This routine is not what I expected, but it just so happens to be a routine that I stumbled upon and that I have a passion for. Being a journalist is so much more than early mornings, late nights and hours upon hours spent at the office. It’s a career that can never get old because new things are always occurring — 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Every time a news story pops up on my phone or online, the first thought I have is, “How does this apply to me and my peers?” and then almost immediately after, I’m sending an e-mail to the editor-in-chief of NSU’s newspaper to see if I can write about it for the next weekly issue of the paper.

When a story gets approved, there’re a lot of steps that go into finalizing the article.

The first step is to find all the background information available to get an idea of who needs to be interviewed for more information and what they need to be asked. Interviews have to be set up as soon as possible because people don’t generally respond to emails or phone calls right away and we have a tight deadline to meet.

After three to four interviews are finally conducted for an article, it is time for the best part — writing the story. The article is generally between 500-700 words and includes all the “meat” to the story. The story must consist of all the current and background information, quotes and any other facts that may positively contribute to the story.

Once the first draft is complete, it is submitted for three rounds of edits by the copy editor, editor-in-chief and the newspaper’s advisers. The editing process is also known as the “stress the writer out until all of her hair is pulled out” phase because once the article comes back with comments and edits, all of the relief and happiness felt after its original submission is completely gone. This is the time when we have to take a step back and refocus because, in all honesty, it really sucks when there’s a lot more work to be done; however, we fight through the disappointment and conquer the article every time.

The writing cycle is completed about four times per writer for every issue of the paper. That means four times as many edits, four times as many interviews and four times as many mixed emotions each week. As stressful as it is, the end result is worth all of the hours spent in the office because when the paper comes out and you see your name under a headline, all you can think is, “Wow, I actually did it.”

The best part of being in this field is that every day is something new. I never walk into the office with the same exact task as the day before. Every day I meet someone different; I hear an interesting story; I learn about something new and I fall more and more in love with my job.

Journalism has taught me so many things since I started on this path, but the most important thing is that I have a purpose. Writing has gone beyond being my greatest passion into being my home. I can’t imagine myself in another field and, when that alarm goes off every morning, I can’t wait to get to the office, coffee in hand, so I can fulfill another perfectly imperfect day.

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