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From the Editor's Desk: Being a student and a journalist when news breaks

Over the past few years, The Post reporters have covered a wide array of breaking news events. 

Ohio University has been well-known for students expressing their rights through activism in rallies and protests about many different topics over the years. The university and the city of Athens is not unfamiliar with being in the spotlight when it comes to both good and bad news. 

Some examples of breaking news stories over the past few years include the Carriage Hill Apartments fire, the Baker 70 protest, an increase in sexual assault reports and a student death. Most recently, it included the coverage of the large crowd caused by the “Kent State gun girl” in Baker Center. 

Our audience only sees the result of our work. In any breaking news story, there is a lot that goes on in the newsroom to get that story out. 

There are many layers to each Post staff member, which can put us in tough positions. We are both journalists and students, which leaves us to answer a lot of questions when it comes to how we want to go about covering any breaking news. 

Behind the scenes of every story, there are questions to be asked about how to cover an event and to make sure all sides of the story are being told. As journalists, we have to set aside any biases we have to give a fair and balanced report of the events. 

We have a lot of questions to ask ourselves: Does the story need to be rushed out so we can be the first media outlet to report it? Do we want to take our time to see how the story can be developed to be the most accurate when reporting the events?

Breaking news disrupts the everyday life of OU students. Students are texting friends and checking social media and news outlets for updates on what is going on. Meanwhile, our reporters are missing class, setting aside assignments and skipping meals to get the story published online. 

We want to inform students on what is going on as quickly and accurately as we can. We also have to try not to let our emotions and opinions get the best of us since we are students affected by these events as well. 

At the end of the day, we are just normal people. A breaking news day is filled with a wide array of emotions. We spend the day covering events, contemplating ethics and writing and editing stories. We are both physically and emotionally exhausted. 

Once the main breaking news story is reported, we can catch a breath and go back to being students. We get calls and messages from our friends and family to get the story on what happened for the day. We have assignments to finish, exams to study for and classes to wake up for the next day. We have to eat a meal and get some sleep. 

As journalists, however, it’s still not over. In the days to come, there are follow-ups on the breaking news events. The Post follows up on other angles and see how it affects the people on campus and in Athens. We have to find ways to handle the responses on social media and our email inboxes from our audience, both positive and negative. 

This does not mean The Post covers every breaking news story perfectly every time. We have made mistakes and learned from them. Every breaking news story is an opportunity to find ways to be better journalists. 

As students, journalists and normal people, we are going to continue to work hard to do what we can to learn and be the best we can be. 

Ellen Wagner is a senior studying journalism at Ohio University and the editor-in-chief of The Post. Have questions? Email Ellen at ew047615@ohio.edu or tweet her @ewagner19.

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