The Black & White experience

By Julia Pearl-Schwartz

The Black & White: famous for empanadas at flat nights and long hours of copy editing.  Since the beginning of this year, I have been lucky enough to experience being a member of the newspaper. 

Like many writers, my Black & White career began when I was choosing classes for sophomore year.  I was skeptical about taking journalism because I had heard that writing for the newspaper is rigorous and difficult.

In retrospect, I couldn’t be happier that I circled journalism on my pink registration sheet.

Writing for the Black & White is, most definitely, a lot of work.  It can also be frustrating due to lost drafts or miscommunications.  But these petty issues are insignificant when compared to the innumerable lessons I have learned.

For example, because timeliness is often imperative when covering an event for the online newspaper, I can now write quickly and efficiently.  This ability helps me with in-class essays and other school projects.

But I’m also certain this skill will serve me throughout my entire life.  Communication is crucial in every profession, and writing, by definition, is a form of communication.  The more efficiently I’m able to portray my ideas, the better.

There’s another aspect to writing for the newspaper that is often overlooked: interviewing.
Despite months of covering events, I still get nervous every time I conduct an interview.  Strangers can be incredibly intimidating, and ironically, so can people I’ve known since kindergarten.

Now that I’m forced to talk to people with whom I’m not acquainted, I must overcome my anxiety about approaching strangers—a skill that I will use my whole life.

Interviewing is also a fantastic way to meet new and interesting people.  Occasionally (and this happens more frequently with adults, I’ve noticed) the interviewee will spark a conversation after I’ve asked all my questions.  I’ve met some fascinating people by simply approaching them at various markets, arts displays and Whitman events.

Another benefit to writing for the Black & White is that I’m able to write whatever I desire.  Unlike in English class where I’m required to follow a prompt, for the Black & White, I’m allowed to choose the topics of my stories (with some guidance from my editors, of course).

I couldn’t be more grateful for this freedom.

Despite the constant practice, I’m certain that my writing still needs improvement.  Grammar rules still confuse me and my writing is far from flawless.

But without writing a minimum of two stories per month, I’m certain that I would be much further behind in my quest for ideal communication.  The Black & White has provided me with a productive and enjoyable way to both improve my writing and have fun at flat nights—and not just because of the empanadas.