Editor Carin Houser and her service dog Ata pose with a few of the Decaturian’s awards.
Editor Carin Houser and her service dog Ata pose with a few of the Decaturian’s awards.

Editorial: The Role of a Journalist

April 6, 2022

Over spring break, the Decaturian was recognized by the Illinois College Press Association for our reporting, photography, layout, and website. We took home 17 awards, including third place in general excellence. It was a happy, motivating day for our staff.

But under that rush of pride was a reminder that this is important work.

As students, the past year has been tumultuous for all of us. We’ve had to adjust to a post-pandemic world while still living through said pandemic. It’s been amazing to be back on campus, but it also feels like everything has changed—because it has. 

The Dec wasn’t spared this change. When I look around at the people I work with, I don’t recognize them as the writers and editors I used to know. We have all become completely different people over the past few years. 

But while the circumstances that prompted these changes might be sad, the end result is a team of people who are more thoughtful, proactive, and resilient. They are writers and editors who see what’s happening in their communities and choose to name it, to put it into words and help other people find a way to talk about it.

That’s the goal of a reporter. People at the Dec abide by a classic journalistic motto: Comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable. Notice when things aren’t right, notice when people are suffering, notice when programs and systems could be better…and articulate it. 

Over the past year, our journalists have done exactly that. And there are more stories like this in the works, articles that speak to the problems that students face on Millikin’s campus and beyond. We’re so excited for you to read them.

Let’s be honest: It’s easy to look away from bad things. The news is already dominated by tragedy and pain. When you take that, plus the stress of college, plus whatever is happening in your personal life, it’s exhausting sometimes.  

But I’m proud of my colleagues at the Dec who have seen these bad things and chosen to be motivated instead of discouraged. They’ve chosen to engage with the bad and use ink to make an impact.

It’s an honor to work with people like that.

And if you relate to any of this, then it would be an honor to work with you, too. Reach out to us. There’s always room at the Dec for people who care about other people. And, to sweeten the pot, we also throw a pretty mean pizza party at the end of the semester.)

As we prepare to wrap up the school year, we’re taking the lessons we’ve learned and using them to push us forward. The Dec is growing and changing, and these changes are making us a better team of reporters, students and human beings.

Millikin is a theater school, so let me end with a quote from a musical. It’ll come as a surprise to no one that Newsies is one of my favorite shows. (Have I mentioned I’m a journalist?) In the show, a reporter reflects on the story she needs to write and the daunting effects it’ll have. She ultimately declares, “Give life’s little guys some ink, and when it dries, just watch what happens!” 

We’re proud of who we are at the Dec. We’re honored to be the student voice. And we’re excited to see what comes next.

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