Opinion, Staff Editorial

An open letter to Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ student journalists

This weekend was the start of your spring break – and you spent it marching.

Last month, when tragedy befell you, it might have forced you to change your plans. But it didn’t force you to lead the charge in such a loud, courageous, impossible-to-ignore way. That was all you.

But you didn’t need to be told that. We just wanted to say you’re making us proud – as journalists, as students, as people – and your commitment to telling your story has not gone unnoticed.

You student journalists – whether you’re on the staff of The Aerie or The Eagle Eye, or picked up the habit in the last month and a half – are in the difficult position of wearing two hats, those of subject and reporter. And you’re wearing them well, though we’re sure at times it is painful, infuriating and confusing.

The future of journalism doesn’t lie solely in a few famous papers, full-time newsrooms and big names telling people what they need to know. It’s a more immersive world of on-the-fly reporting and, often, telling your own stories as they happen – not waiting for a bigger outlet to catch wind and report. You’re embracing that future by getting information out via Twitter, Snapchat and long-form Facebook posts that tell us more about this tragedy than any evening broadcast ever could.

More than that, though, you’re teaching us how to do our job in the midst of tragedy. It’s a lot to ask of any journalist to remain composed when reporting on a story like this – much less a student who lived through it. But there you are, embodying the importance of journalism as you show your community ways it can help and tell the stories that matter.

This role of a journalist is especially important in dark times, when people are searching for answers, information – anything they can cling to and understand. Instead of adding to that darkness with the sort of voyeuristic, culprit-focused coverage so many news organizations are prone to do, you continue to uplift your community with stories of courage, healing and hope.

In the last six weeks, The Eagle Eye has written about means of remembrance, activism and selflessness – and you were living those ideals, too.

Your journalism embodies what we hope becomes common practice in the field: that of emphasizing the human side of your school, the names you remember and the people who won’t stop fighting for a better tomorrow.

We hope you don’t underestimate the impact of the work you’re doing, at every level of the storytelling process.

To trolls and haters, you’ve responded with a loud, resounding “no” – no to the gun lobby, to those who say you’re too young to get it, to the possibility of this ever happening again. From one team of journalists to another, we’re grateful to you for helming this revolution.

We sincerely welcome you into our newsroom, any day, and we are here to support you in whatever way you need most. You can find us @MiamiHurricane or at editor@themiamihurricane.com.

To donate to the cause, visit https://www.gofundme.com/stoneman-douglas-yearbooks.

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.

March 26, 2018

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.