May 102009
 
Authors: Sean Reed

It’s all happened so fast.

The end of the semester is upon us, which means that I am only two classes away from escaping Fort Collins. More importantly, however, it means my time at the Collegian has come to a close.

While I have certainly learned much within my formal CSU classes, it has been my affiliation with the rag-tag journalists of student media that has taught me some of the most valuable lessons I have learned in the last five years.

Perhaps the most striking of these lessons, however, has been the true importance of journalism.

Contrary to what Sarah Palin and John McCain think, journalism is not about sensationalism and celebrity gossip. Despite what corporate types and media critics may say, it’s not about money and pleasing advertising. At least, it’s not supposed to be.

At its core, journalism is meant to be the glue that holds our republic together.

Our nation is built on the foundation of popular sovereignty. However, an implicit requirement of this system is an informed public. This is where journalists come in.

These hard-working men and women are charged with a thankless task: to cover all events and uncover all the facts that members of the public need to be informed citizens, even if it means making a few enemies along the way. And journalists are certainly good at making enemies.

A good friend of mine at the paper put it best: “If you’re a journalist and you’re not making enemies, you’re not doing your job.”

It’s certainly true. There’s that old saying — you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. Well, you can’t hold a few public officials accountable without pissing off a few people, and I’m sure my coworkers have done their fair share of that.

During my time at the paper, Collegian journalists have held the university powers accountable at every possible opportunity, often before other local media were even aware there was an issue.

In the past year alone, however, student journalists have been particularly active in discovering and exposing information important to students and faculty.

As former President Larry Penley set out his vision for the future of the university, Collegian reporters poured over university documents and uncovered spending trends that favored administrative expenditures over academics.

When former CSU Police Chief Dexter Yarbrough became the subject of a university investigation aided by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, this paper discovered evidence of some of the chief’s more outrageous classroom antics, in which he advocated paying informants off with drugs and then lying about it if the informant ended up in the hospital.

Without the Collegian, it’s likely much of this information would never have come to light. In this way, the paper has proven its worth beyond just the ability to move advertisements and RamTalk.

These stories have highlighted something that has been clear to me since the day I stepped into the student media office to apply for a gig as a columnist: The folks at student media know how to find a good story, and they pull no punches if the facts are there. To put it bluntly — when it comes to serving the CSU community, they don’t screw around.

It has been my distinct pleasure to serve alongside these wily journalists and to be part of the well-established tradition of excellence at The Rocky Mountain Collegian. I hope my column has added to that tradition and has been of some use to all you loyal readers out there.

Take care CSU.

Sean Reed is a senior political science major. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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