The School Newspaper: The Best Place to Start?

Did you — or do you — write for your school newspaper?

I did. My first feature, back in 1991 (if I recall correctly), was a two-page spread on the intersection of faith and art, in which I discussed the work of Sam Phillips, U2, and Peter Gabriel. I did movie reviews, music reviews (I wrote my Achtung Baby review after visiting Tower Records for the album’s  midnight release), and interviews. Eventually I reviewed new CDs in a weekly column called “The Hills Are Alive.”

And here I am, writing about the same subjects today.

It’s a joy to work at Seattle Pacific University today and meet up and coming writers who are already engaging journalists, shaping the campus newspaper – The Falcon – into a worthwhile read. (And it’s very strange to find myself a subject in the paper, instead of a contributor.) Even though newspapers are disappearing and journalism is changing, the school paper isn’t just practice. It’s a tough job. You have to learn to report with some degree of objectivity, excellence, and passion. In editorials, you want to stir things up, inspire conversation, challenge the status quo. You have to learn how to speak the truth about the administration and the faculty, even if they threaten to pull the plug on your paper. You struggle to avoid sensationalism, arresting readers with relevance, creativity, and solid research.

I’m a bit embarrassed when I look back at the photo I used for my school paper editorials.

But then, I suspect anybody who’s publishing today who got their start in the school paper probably has an embarrassing photo in the archives somewhere.

Look who else got started writing for the school paper!

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet has two passions: writing fiction, and celebrating art — music, cinema, photography, literature — through writing and teaching. He is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” — Through a Screen Darkly. And his four-novel fantasy series, The Auralia Thread, which begins with Auralia's Colors, was published by Random House. He speaks at universities and conferences around the world about understanding art through eyes of faith. He is earning his MFA in Creative Writing at Seattle Pacific University, where he has worked for 11 years as an editor, writer, and communications project manager. His work has been recognized in The New Yorker, TIME, The Seattle Times, IMAGE, Ravi Zacharias International — and Christianity Today, where he served as a film journalist for more than a decade. He recently began a weekly column called "Listening Closer" for Christ and Pop Culture.