The Gustavian Weekly

What’s your headline?

By Chelsea Johnson Editor-in-Chief | August 30, 2013 | Opinion

chelsea-headshotThis past summer, I attended a convention filled with dozens of enthusiastic journalists and young writers who were eager to learn about what it takes to lead a college newsroom.

Being one of those people, I prepared myself for a weekend of fast-talking social media gurus, old-fashioned print-obsessed professors, and possibly a couple of quirky students looking to “network.”

The speaker of our first seminar instructed us to pair up with a stranger, talk for three minutes, and subsequently come up with a headline for “their story.” His voice boomed over the classroom as he drilled into our brains— everyone has a story.

I could see the flurry and confusion of fellow classmates as they searched through the files of their brains for something that could possibly be exciting enough to write a headline about.

Telling our presumably uninteresting life stories to strangers our own age seemed like a ridiculous task. As we were paired up with our equally confused partners for this task, we were all thinking the same thing: what could I say that’s interesting enough for other people to hear?

Sitting across from me in the crowded room was an incoming first-year who would be working as an editor for his college newspaper in the fall.

As expected, my partner was a prodigy—an incoming first year who had single-handedly built his high school newspaper’s website from scratch—during a blizzard.

Of course, I accepted my fate of having a completely and utterly boring headline amongst a group of what I thought was a combination of George Orwells and J.D. Salingers. As our conversation came to a close, I wrote my partner’s headline in my head, ready to share it with the class but hoping I wouldn’t be called on.

Suddenly, hands popped up. Classmates shared their partner’s headlines, each more ordinary than the next. I realized that I only had myself to blame for feeling intimidated.

In reality, we all really do have our own stories that are worth telling. A headline that is unique to our lives is worth sharing whether we think it exciting or not.

With this message resonating, I encourage every student on this campus to get involved in telling your story—or at least make your life a story you’d like to tell.

This isn’t a “make your life count” message or a “you’re unique” spiel. It’s simply a call to action to participate in one of the oldest and most established means of storytelling we have left on this campus:The Weekly.

So why, especially when you already have a group of professors telling you to read entirely too much in the first place, would you want to dive into something like The Weekly?

I can’t speak for the others on staff, but I know there is great value in a student-run newspaper, made completely for and by students, that has an ability to create an open discussion on campus.

So in considering all of this, why is it that we continue to publish averagely read issues just to break even on cost? Why is it worth spending extra hours writing an article that your fellow students may or may not read, when you could be doing better things like squats or watching the new Die Hard movie?

Because there is value in voice. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you, like we so often do this early in life. Figure out what you have to say, and share it.

Maybe your headline isn’t as boring as you thought after all.