Want to make a difference? Write for The Gazette

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

After completing my first year at Western, I seriously considered transferring schools. That was before I started volunteering at The Gazette.

The beauty of a student paper is it constantly changes from every year, as new writers and new editors replace those who graduate. Each year, a new front office staff " each with different ideas about what the paper should be " takes the paper’s reigns.

Gaining experience or building a portfolio for any career is tough, especially in the field of journalism. The Gazette lets you gain journalistic experience and actually get a feel for what the daily grind of working at a newspaper. But unlike other jobs, at The Gazette you don’t need a resumé bursting with past experiences and glowing reference letters.

Never written anything in your life? Come to The Gazette " we’ll teach you how. You won’t be turned away. Treat The Gazette like a classroom where you can learn how to make your work printable and improve your writing and editing skills.

Few Western students seem to realize how easy working for The Gazette is. Any Western student can write for the paper, as long as they’re dedicated, open to criticism, patient and willing to learn. It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white, male or female, left-wing or right-wing, Christian or Muslim, a science kid or an arts kid

When I first volunteered, I didn’t think one student could profoundly affect the paper. I was wrong. In my four years at the paper, I’ve seen a massive shift in the type of content it prints, drastic changes in the way it looks and even a significant change in the office’s atmosphere.

In high school, all I ever heard was people bitch and complain about issues. They’d post blogs ranting about social issues or just complain about them in the cafeteria. But they never did anything to incite change.

However, in my years at Western, I’ve seen people upset by problems on campus, in Canada and overseas, but instead of complaining, these students took action by organizing a club, starting a petition or writing an article.

I respect and admire these people " particularly the ones I met while working at The Gazette.

One of the most important things about journalism is learning to put your emotions aside and approach topics rationally, objectively and with an open mind.

While journalism may not be the career path I follow, I don’t regret being a student journalist for four years. Working for The Gazette has taught me so many things applicable in all aspects of life.

I’ve always been vocal about my opinions, and I’ll admit, when I was a little kid, I was very hot-headed. I used to argue about issues irrationally and emotionally.

Working at The Gazette exposed me to so many different people with different opinions and viewpoints. Sitting down every day with these people and debating various contentious issues in a civilized fashion helped me learn to be more open-minded. More importantly, it taught me how to be a better listener.

Want to make a difference? Change the world? Better society? I do. Always have. Working at The Gazette proved to me that making a difference isn’t hard " but that making a positive and progressive impact is. Not only do you need to learn how to open your mind to different viewpoints, you need to understand the importance of hearing a story’s every side and exploring its every angle before making a decision or taking action.

Having an effective impact on society involves looking at issues critically as well as analyzing your own views and ideas critically.

I learned a lot in my classes at Western. But I learned just as much, if not more, from working at The Gazette. If you want to make a difference on campus or have a great learning experience while at Western, I highly recommend " you guessed it " volunteering at The Gazette.

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