May 25, 2019

SNABES | Writing in the Sunlight

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One evening, while editing at The Sun’s office, a fellow editor walked into the building and informed us that a car had hit an elderly woman a few blocks away from the office. The other news editor in the room was busy writing an article, which meant that I was the only one available to go outside and check out the scene. I was used to timidly playing a secondary role and relying on other news editors to step up to solve a problem in the newsroom. But, at this moment, I was the one who had to cover the task at hand. I walked out of The Sun’s office, excited for this chance to cover breaking news.

I walked to the street corner where the accident took place, and saw numerous police cars parked there. I felt as if I was intruding onto a scene where I was not supposed to be. I approached a police officer and he told me to talk to one of his colleagues. The colleague then told me that the woman had been taken to the hospital but that she was “fine.” I returned to the office to write a short article about the car accident. I felt rushed while writing, but adrenaline helped me finish.

I have written and edited for The Sun’s news department since freshman year. The Sun has not just taught me how to write a news story — it has made me more courageous. I have learned to walk up to random people and say that I write for The Sun and that I have some questions. This may be easy for some people, but it was not always easy for me. I sometimes would get a nervous pinch in my stomach before approaching a person. I have learned to ignore this pinch and just walk up to the individual. They often are willing to talk with me. Journalism has taught me to not be timid because you can’t be timid when you’re chasing a story.

The Sun has also taught me about my university and the people in it. I have interviewed computer science professors in Gates Hall, an Asian studies professor in Rockefeller Hall and students in Temple of Zeus. Reporting for The Sun has introduced me to academic departments that I am not part of and areas of campus that I do not frequent. Reading my fellow writers’ and editors’ articles about topics ranging from the recent student-elected trustee election to the long wait times for CS office hours has alerted me on what’s happening on campus. The Sun has made me a more informed Cornellian.

One of my favorite parts of The Sun, though, is that my peers challenge me to be a better journalist. Sometimes, when I was an underclassman, my editors would rearrange my article and re-write much of it. This was disappointing, as I felt as if my writing was not good enough. Over time, as I became more experienced, my editors made fewer changes to my work. I also learned to defend my writing when it was necessary to do so, such as when my editor’s edit was factually incorrect.

My editors have also made me a more persistent reporter. After reading the first draft of a feature story I wrote two years ago, an editor told me to contact more Arts and Sciences professors. I then called and emailed at least 10 department chairs, but no one picked up or answered that day, which was frustrating. The next few days, though, responses came flooding in. By making me carry out additional reporting, this editor allowed me to publish an in-depth story.

The Sun has convinced me to pursue journalism as a career, but I plan to try something new — science journalism. As I move to a new city, I can’t wait to keep reading The Sun’s articles from afar.

Anne Snabes is graduating from the College of Arts and Sciences. She was an assistant news editor on The Sun’s 136th editorial board. She can be reached at asnabes@cornellsun.com.