Here’s the story:

Four years of talking about people, not things

John Francis '18, Co Editor in Chief

At the beginning of this year, I made a personal goal for this newspaper. To write about people, not just things. More importantly, to tell these people’s story in a way that everyone isn’t used to.

This is something I have had a passion for my whole life– telling stories. Getting a group of people locked in and ready for the next detail to unfold right before them was, and is, something I live for. There isn’t one goal to a good story, rather a few and those being that it’s truthful, interesting, and worthwhile for someone to sit through.

The same can be said for journalism, the consumer wants honest reporting that is going to keep their attention until the last sentence. As this year has gone on, I’m delighted to say I’ve seen this goal achieved firsthand on many accounts. Whether in my own reporting or in looking at the work of my fellow staffers, these stories that may not seem obvious on the surface have come to light and have been put on paper in such creative ways.

In this column, I want to tell you some of my story, and how it has been a part of the process of achieving the goal I set this past Fall.

Going into student journalism, I had somewhat of an insider’s view to what being on The Tower staff was like. My older sister by five years, Jacqueline Francis, was the Editor-in-Chief during the 2013-2014 school year. As I was only an awkward middle schooler interested in airsoft guns and hockey, the idea of joining was in my mind, but nowhere near the forefront.

That was until freshman year. I met Rod Satterthwaite, who was our adviser for two years before taking up a job offer on the west coast. ‘Satt,’ as we all called him, instantly became a fixture to my friend group. With the majority of my buddies taking honors journalism in ninth grade, we’d often find ourselves all in The Tower room with Satt cracking jokes and talking about our hopes to one day be a part of this renowned publication.
As I watched how getting sources and finding story ideas worked, I noticed that most articles weren’t about just one person, but many. And in that writing process, there wasn’t just one reporter but many working together to help see the package get to print. This idea of working for something bigger than oneself was new to me, also giving me a sense of identity at South.

Sophomore year, I spent most of my weekdays after school with the deadline crew. This was group was comprised of the leadership team of senior girls who seemed like the coolest and most talented people in my immediate world, and other underclassmen staffers who were key to the paper-making process.

This is where my love for the newsroom was born. Having a set group of individuals who, for seven classes a day, call to their own clicks and work for their own GPA push that all aside and come be a part of something much bigger. Everytime the sun would go down on a Monday night as mouse clicks and keyboard crunching sounded off in room 142, Tower kids were just that– journalists.

And then everything stopped. For a moment. We found out our adviser was leaving us. ‘The patron saint of sophomore boys’ (Satt’s paper plate award) was no more. These setbacks were something I hadn’t dealt with before.

Keeping my mind optimistic, I looked on for my junior year with the dream of Editor-in-Chief becoming more and more of a priority. As a junior, I had reached the leadership level of being on staff, and my responsibilities grew. Staying later at deadline, getting closer with my fellow leaders and starting to help others were all things that I loved and wanted to do more of.

That year, I had the responsibility to write a weekly installment of election 2016 coverage with friend, and fellow Tower staffer, Anton Mikolowski. Having exposure to my own coverage of what was the craziest election cycle in my life and many others was an honor, and my love for this calling grew.

By the end of junior year, I was eager to know if I would be Editor-in-Chief as a senior. Luckily, all of my dreams came true and more. When I first heard that Liz and I would be sharing the position, I was a little annoyed. But about ten minutes after that, my mind started racing with ideas. ‘She is organized, you aren’t’ I thought, or ‘She can design a page twice as fast as you, and you love to do the talking.’ and ‘You like to talk in Mr. Hamka’s office about stories and she doesn’t’. The list goes on and on. So, this Fall, after taking an intense writing course at a MSU journalism camp, I had my eyes set on perfecting storytelling through our weekly newspaper. Both in design and content, our stories were not going to be susceptible to weak sourcing or lack of effort.

I was not let down, and the work this year speaks for itself. This staff really are the noble, aspiring journalists of the 21st century. It has been an honor to call myself its leader.

If there’s a few things I take with me after three years of telling this community’s stories, they would be this: Working with others is never easy, especially after you’ve been in the same building for 13 hours on a Monday. Second, what you put into something usually is what you get out, and on the off chance you’re working for a newspaper, you’re lucky enough to hold that product and cherish it. Finally, always look for the good in people; it is in abundance with everyone you meet.