‘Almost 35 years later I still rely on what I learned in the College Heights Herald newsroom’

Save Student Newsrooms

Mike Collins

The newsroom has changed a lot since my days at Western Kentucky University—indeed, the entire communications industry has changed. Radically.

But despite those changes, almost 35 years later I still rely on what I learned in the College Heights Herald newsroom, then a glass-walled “fishbowl” in the basement of Downing University Center.

There my fellow students and I learned teamwork, responsibility, accountability and the value—and rewards—of hard work.

We struggled to master the technology of the day, without the benefit of Google or YouTube videos to troubleshoot recalcitrant typesetting equipment. Our first “personal computers” were amazing, marked the beginning of a major change in sea state, and had only a tiny fraction of the processing power of the smartphone in your back pocket right now.

That experience prepared me for internships, and then a career in the newspaper industry—which I left years ago (“before getting out of newspapers became fashionable,” I tell people) to help launch an aviation magazine.

And although it’s a different kind of publication, it’s still publishing, and the same community journalism skills come into play. Seldom does a day go by that I don’t hear an instructor’s or advisor’s voice in my head.

Could I be doing what I do today, without my collegiate publication experience? Perhaps, but I would not be nearly as proficient at it.

This letter is part of the #SaveStudentNewsrooms movement. A student-led campaign designed to bring attention to the challenges student newsrooms face.

Mike Collins is a former Herald staff photographer.