by: Charles Hicks Ever since the dawn of The United States, the country has been built with freedom in mind as the central, most important right, as well as the only reason it exists in the first place. Luckily, all rights pertaining to freedom are nicely packaged in the first amendment. One of these rights is freedom of the press, guaranteeing that news publications can report freely on events without persecution.
Bergen Community College believes that right is important, and also believes students should be able to inform the entire school as a whole of events or happenings. Born from these beliefs is the Bergen Torch, Bergen Community College’s #1 news source. But what’s it like working there? How would you join? And most importantly, why is it called the Torch in the first place? Here to answer two of those questions and more is Erin McAnany, editor-in-chief of The Bergen Torch.
Erin, you’re super important to The Torch. Could you explain what you do for us?
I come up with different stories for our writers to write about. And I make a story budget and that’s where all the stories are together. And people can choose the stories they want to write about or even mention stories that they’re interested in. And I’m always open to hearing what the writers want to write about. And for the Torch itself, what it’s like being a part of it, it’s a leadership responsibility. As I’m the editor-in-chief, I’m in charge of the paper— editing the articles and also posting them. And it’s really cool to see everyone’s writing style and how much of a passion there is for journalism.
Why do you think students should join The Torch?
I definitely think more students should be interested in joining the Torch. Honestly, journalism is one of the most, not talked about, I guess, majors on campus. There’s not a lot of journalism majors. But anybody who’s interested in even writing for the Torch or just writing anything in general should definitely just try to come to the meetings and just see what it’s about. They don’t always have to write a particular story, but maybe they know somebody who is interested in writing about it. And I also think it’s also a great opportunity to meet new people. And if you’re interested in writing, you know other people who like to write as well.
Let’s say I wanted to sign up. How would I go about that?
If you wanted to sign up, you could always contact me or our advisor, Sue Toth. She’s a teacher, so her email, obviously, you can find anywhere. Or you can either join our Discord as well. I’m really good at responding to at least text messages. But if somebody is interested in joining the Torch, the first person they should contact is probably Sue. Sue would give me their information, and I would contact them myself.
This question is less general and more personal. How did you first get into journalism? Did your reasons for doing so change over time?
I want to be in the more broadcast journalism side of journalism. I want to be more of an on-screen personality for sports specifically. And it’s always kind of been a passion of mine–sports. So ever since I was probably in middle school, I’ve wanted to be in the broadcast journalism side of journalism.
Do you remember the first story you published?
I think the first story I published was about a gas leak on campus. It happened real suddenly, and we needed someone to write about it ASAP. And I was on campus at the time, so I was able to contact somebody who was higher up than me, a PR rep for the school, and I was able to get all the information and write a story even if it was a little short about that situation.
Here’s more of a deeper one— what do you think of modern day journalism?
I think modern journalism is cool. I think it’s really interesting to hear different sides of different stories or different events that are happening around the world, even in the United States. And I think, and I hope that journalism continues to flourish, and it becomes more popular with the younger generation, I would say.
Bonus question— who’s the most trusted name in news in your opinion? As in, where do you get your news from?
So for me, I usually get my news from multiple sources, I would say mostly I follow a lot of basketball, a lot of sports. So I would look on ESPN for that or Bleacher report, but for my regular everyday news, I like to look at all different news outlets. I get my news mostly on Twitter, from Apple News, it’s called. And it just kind of pops up. And sometimes I’ll see on social media, Snapchat, I think it’s Daily Mail. Sometimes I’ll look at that. It’s more like a celebrity thing, but sometimes it does have regular news in there.
Thanks, Erin! Any closing words of advice?
Honestly, I would just say, if you have a passion for something, just strive for it, go for it. Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do it. And we would love more writers on the Torch and more writers to be involved in journalism.
Erin McAnany is just one of The Torch’s dedicated members. To join or for inquiries, simply email Professor Sue Toth at email@example.com. Students can also join by taking her Print Journalism Production (COM-110) class, however participation will be mandatory for a grade. Meetings take place Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30 to 2:30.
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