I am the advisor to The Panther, Chapman University’s weekly student newspaper.
I’ve been doing for four years. The pay is shit (I think I get $2,000), the work can be a bit irksome, the hours have (from time to time) been somewhat ambiguous and annoying.
I friggin’ love it.
I was about to write, “I don’t know why”—but, actually, I do know why. I love advising the Panther because I love journalism, and I want up-and-comers to love it to. I want them to grasp the rush of a scoop; the fear of an approaching deadline; the terror of having to make a call to someone who won’t be happy to receive it. I want them to know what it is to check a fact, then check it again. I want them to feel the buzz of, “Hey, I read your column …” or “Hey, that was a wonderful piece …” or, “Hey, we’re hiring interns and you …”
I had that as a University of Delaware undergrad, and I desperate seek it out for my Chapman students, too.
This year has been—for Panther staffers and advisor alike—pure awfulness. The newspaper holds all its meetings via Zoom, and has printed a grand total of zero copies on actual paper. During the staff sessions, I see eyes watering, yawns stifled. It’s brutally tough to care about a paper when you’re not physically present; to care when you can’t witness the acknowledgment of receipt.
But here’s the crazy part: The 2020-21 Panther has been absolutely, positively, 100-percent, no-holds-barred awesome. Just this evening, the Society of Professional Journalists bequeathed seven different awards upon the Panther—and, for my money, it could have been more. Week after week, the product has shined. From this outstanding profile via Angelina Hicks (a freshman!) to this work of art from the magnificent Micaela Bastianelli to one Katie Reul blockbuster after another to Luca Evans and Mady Dever and … and …
It’s blown me away.
Of all the highs, the one that has done me the most proud … or, really, the person who has done me the most proud is Jasmin Sani, the editor in chief.
Entering the fall, I knew little of Jasmin. She’d been on staff before, but we weren’t particularly close. She seemed sorta shy, sorta reclusive. Talented, but … I dunno. I didn’t view her as the editor in chief type.
Well, I was wrong.
Were I an editor at a newspaper or magazine, and I had a slot available for one graduating college senior, the job would go to Jasmin. I don’t care if there are more experienced people at Syracuse, at Northwestern, at Florida, at Missouri. I don’t care if Jim was a New York Times intern and Sally was a Washington Post intern. I don’t care about swagger, mojo, strut. Over the past eight months, Jasmin has handled (what has to be) the most difficult year in Panther history with calm, with smarts, with precision. Being an editor doesn’t mean you need to be an excellent writer (Jasmin is an excellent writer) or quick on deadline (she’s quick on deadline). Nope–it means you need to be a leader. You need to know where you want to take the newspaper, and how to guide your staff to get it there.
This year, Jasmin has guided her staff to produce what I truly believe to be the best weekly college newspaper in America.
It’s an honor to be there for the ride.