February 10, 2023 | OPINION | By Zeke Lloyd
No adjective could describe the way I felt. The closest would be “stagnant.” Even that seems like underselling it.
It was Oct. 27, 2022. It was a Thursday. Tomorrow, The Catalyst would be distributed around campus. Today, it was our job to proofread, edit, and format the entire thing.
So, outside of the occasional trip to the bathroom, my day was spent sitting in the same rickety, broken office chair. For seven hours, I sat in front of a 17-inch monitor and stared at articles, photographs, illustrations, headlines, bylines, and Sam Treat’s elaborate food descriptions.
It was a mixed blessing.
The true agony came from the tedium of the Cutler Publications House, the small red building behind Sigma Chi where The Catalyst gets constructed every week. The walls were undecorated. The hum of monitors went uninterrupted. The fluorescent overhead bulb was unbridled.
Active Life adventures, sporting triumphs, cultural insights, newsworthy events, and opinionated essays came and went before my eyes. The sun went down around 6:00 p.m. – I wouldn’t leave for another two hours. At some moments, sitting there felt like a curse.
And now here I am writing an article about why you should read a newspaper. Candidly, as listless as I came to feel each day, I loved the work. I was never frustrated with the actual task at hand. After all, the list of reasons to read a newspaper is lacking neither length nor depth. I’m a journalism minor. I’ve sat through enough classes; I think newspapers are good things to have in the world.
So when I got past the panic of having to write an article in defense of newspapers, an industry potentially on the brink of absolute obscurity, I came up with my own list of rationale for why we should keep them around. Here are three reasons newspapers are worth your time: to stay informed, to be entertained, and to improve your writing.
I won’t spend long defending the idea that staying informed is an important part of citizenry. Instead, here’s a famous quote by Winston Churchill on the matter: “The best argument against Democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” Don’t be the average voter. Read a newspaper.
Setting newspapers apart from independent journalists, news organizations hold their reporters to a high level of objectivity. When it comes to deciphering the news, you can turn to political talk shows, podcasts, and Twitter. But for staying up to date on recent happenings as they really did happen, don’t overlook The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal.
And while it’s your civic duty to keep up with the nitty-gritty of politics from week-to-week, you don’t have to do it day-to-day. Fortunately, on the days when you’re taking a break from the terrifying, unrelenting spew of current events, just flip to another section of the newspaper. Almost all newspapers contain media reviews and narrative nonfiction pieces.
Nine times out of 10, there is also a crossword. In this newspaper, the puzzle section is on the back page. You can find sudoku in addition to a mini crossword and a full crossword. Unfortunately for puzzles, science declared they do not have a measurable positive impact on the brain. But what fun things really do? Watching “Community” again for the fifth time isn’t going to make you smarter, either. And if you’re looking for comedy, The Catalyst also has a section devoted to satirical headlines about life on campus. That’s called The Fish Wrapper.
And reading a newspaper isn’t a net-zero impact on personal ability. Reading is the best way to get better at writing. A host of great writers found their start, and continue to produce, in the field of journalism. Nonfiction authors publish frequently in newspapers, adding to the long list of content which readers can find and use to better understand the craft of writing.
When I was Co Editor-in-Chief, I’ll admit it was nice to read the news first. I got to chuckle at the jokes before anyone else. And while I can only hope that combing through all those articles made me better at writing, none of those reasons really account for why I sat so long in that beige room inundated with harsh fluorescent light.
The Catalyst isn’t just any publication. The Catalyst is our publication.
In one month, over 100 students contribute to The Catalyst. In addition, an average of around 40 people are interviewed each month. Flipping through, it’s not hard to see that the writing inside The Catalyst is by your peers, about your peers.
For me, those articles brought campus experiences into my itty-bitty office space. The writing kept me smiling. I read satisfying stories, odd observations, and wild journeys. I came to need those articles each week. The newspaper in front of me was an almanac of adventure.
So, for however long it takes you to read 500 to 1,000 words, you get to live a writer’s journey and feel their pathos right alongside them.
Then you’re onto the next piece.