Being a journalism major, I tend to eavesdrop on conversations.
My ears especially perk up when I hear the words “Alligator” and “burn that place down” in the same breath.
I was finishing up a project for my design class in one of the journalism school labs today when I heard a group of students start discussing the Alligator.
Then one of them said: “I hate the Alligator. I would burn that place down. Seriously, watch me.”
I wasn’t really offended, and I definitely didn’t take the arson threat seriously. But I did wonder what inspired this passion in a fellow UF student. I figured he was probably a student in reporting class who had been turned down for publication.
So, I finished up my design project and walked over to the group.
“Hi,” I said. “Mind if I ask you a question? I heard you all talking about the Alligator, and I was wondering what makes you hate it so much.”
One of the students, a friend of our freelance editor Jen, said she loved the Alligator. Then again, she’s in reporting class and had gotten published.
The student who hated the Alligator with such a burning passion turned out not to be a reporting student at all. He was a journalism student who wanted a letter to the editor published and didn’t understand the system.
We had a good 15-minute conversation about it. I found out that he was a member of Tau Epsilon Phi Fraternity and had been offended by an editorial about a recent hazing incident. I got a chance to explain how our editorial system works — and he found out that we don’t publish anonymous letters to the editor.
It’s part of my job to to be a PR rep for the Alligator. One of the students told me she thought it was cool that I had come up to them because it showed that I cared.
And I do care about what students think. After all, they’re our readership as well as the people we’re trying to recruit. Being a top editor at the Alligator extends past the newsroom; it’s more of a public position than I sometimes realize.