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The Antelope

The Antelope

The Antelope

The Antelope provides real life reporting experience

By Jesus Marfileño

I’m a senior majoring in advertising/public relations, with a minor in marketing. And I am a non-traditional student.  

The last time I took any class that had to do with news writing was back in 2008-09.  I’ve been out of school for some time. I expected this to be a difficult class — and it was — but it was also fun. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me improve several skills that would be beneficial not only in this line of work, but for life in general.  

My first take-away was learning to take constructive criticism from my peers. After I wrote my first story, I knew it needed some work. I was rusty. My classmates looked it over, then the editors would look it over — and they marked that thing up. We’re talking circles, rewrite this and that, lines and arrows, abbreviations and editing terms that they assumed I understood. I sometimes got some sarcastic comedy on the side from one of the editors (thanks Mitch). As for AP style, we have to go by the book. I accepted that AP style may say one thing this year and another next year.

Almost every time I had to be involved in group work, it felt as if we were doing our part only to get by. This is the first time I felt that the class interaction achieved its goal. Conversations and feedback during class time were usually helpful and productive and occasionally entertaining.  

On the reporting end, I learned that finding sources and taking interviews takes solid planning, and having multiple contacts. For my first two stories, I thought, “This isn’t too hard.”  

Then on my third story I had two sources. I got no response. I waited two days, and still nothing.  First draft is due the following day and I reluctantly sent one of my editors an email at 10 p.m. The end result was a bad first draft. I learned the more sources, the better. 

Sometimes sources fall through. People may be too busy, out of town or share the exact same email address as someone from UNL.  

While working on the current story for the week, we were editing last week’s story and brainstorming for the next. Turning in files to Canvas on time in the right format while learning to navigate and edit on Google Drive took some getting used to.  

As a minority, I would often gravitate towards interviewing other minorities. In the case of interviewing international students who were learning to speak English, having a conversation with masks in a noisy environment made reporting very difficult. A better option may have been simply asking the interviewee to move to a quieter location.  

The pandemic did have some positive effects on me in regard to this course. Wearing a mask strangely gave me some confidence and a sense of connection with my sources. Even if we were sick of hearing about the pandemic, there was plenty to report on.

There will often be things that are out of our control. I found it’s important to step back and get a good sense of the opportunities and limitations of the environment I was working in and tried to turn those things into an advantage.  

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