Student Career Spotlight: Being a Journalist at The Daily Gamecock
The Daily Gamecock, out of the University of South Carolina, has a daily circulation of over 10,000 copies, and claims a readership of more than 30,000 people a day. Recognized as a top ten college newspaper by the Princeton review, The Daily Gamecock has collected dozens of regional awards for outstanding journalism.
Bio: I’m a fourth-year political science student at the University of South Carolina and was editor-in-chief of The Daily Gamecock for the spring semester. This fall, I’ll work as a freelance reporter in Columbia, S.C.
1. Tell me a little bit about yourself outside of journalism.
I’m in my last year at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, S.C., which is my hometown. I’d be lying if I said journalism hasn’t consumed my life over the last three years, between internships and The Daily Gamecock. I’m a big fan of NPR and podcasts, sweet tea made right and reporting that merges storytelling and in-depth reporting.
2. Why do you work in journalism?
There’s not one reason in particular. I really enjoy having the chance to press leaders on their decisions and to explain what’s going on — which is often complicated and seemingly boring — in a way that I hope is compelling. Keeping readers abreast of what’s happening around them is important, but telling them what it means to them and in a broader context can be really fulfilling.
3. What kind of stories do you look for from your writers?
The way I evaluate stories is to think about how interested a freshman who’s new to campus and out of the loop would be. He might want to read a profile of a new club on campus, but why? What makes it unique? And he might care about changes the university’s administration are making, but how will it affect him day-to-day? If we can’t come up with a compelling answer, that’s not a story we want to run.
4. What do you think The Daily Gamecock does differently from the rest of college newspapers?
The Daily Gamecock has changed a lot over the last few years: We’ve created (and reinvented) a training program for new staff, and we’ve overhauled our website. This year, for the first time, we had two managing editors — one for print and one for Web — as we work toward building a dedicated Web staff. And because The Daily Gamecock is part of the office of Student Media at the University of South Carolina, we work closely with our sister organizations, including a TV station and a radio station, to produce a daily radio segment and multimedia content.
Bio: Hannah Jeffrey is a rising junior at the University of South Carolina, where she studies journalism and works for the editorially independent student newspaper The Daily Gamecock. After serving as news editor this past semester, Hannah will take over as editor-in-chief in the fall. When she isn’t reporting or writing, Hannah watches copious amounts of Netflix and listens to Beyonce.
1. Tell me about yourself outside of journalism.
It’s weird to talk about myself outside of journalism because journalism pretty much touches every part of my life. When I’m not reporting for a story, I’m asking people questions about their lives, so I can figure out what they’re about. At school, I go to class, I’m in a sorority, I watch a ton of Netflix and I eat pesto pasta at least three times a week. In my free time, I like doing anything that puts me around other people, even if it’s just watching Jeopardy! with my roommates.
2. What typically inspires you to write a story?
I love to tell other people’s stories. For me, just meeting someone is often enough to inspire a story. My favorite stories I’ve written are ones about people, but I feel strange taking the credit when someone says they like one of those stories. To me, it’s just putting words around what others say. I’ll sit with profile subjects for at least an hour before I write a story, so I can figure out the best way to tell it. Sometimes, you’ll go in to an interview with one angle, but something the person says or a face they make or their body language can inspire a whole new story.
3. How do you maintain an objective viewpoint when you are passionate about a subject?
I try to separate myself as much as possible when it comes to writing about a subject. The best stories come from passionate writing, but bias can easily ruin those stories. I’d much rather write a story that’s fair than one that I agree with personally, so I’ll analyze everything I write to make sure that it’s unbiased and representative of any and all sides.
4. What story has gained the biggest response?
For the last paper of the semester, I wrote a story about a student who was paralyzed after she was struck by a stray bullet near campus. After the incident, there were several stories about the course of events, her condition and safety around our school. But I wrote a story six months after all of that happened. The student is coming back to school in the fall, so I focused my story on what was next for her, as opposed to rehashing what had happened last year. I posted the link to the story on Facebook, and over 100 people liked it. It got hundreds of hits on our website, and tweets with the link got several retweets and favorites. I think the story got some buzz because it was different from the stories that had been done in the past and instead focused on what was upcoming.