Past and present Maneater writers and editors write testimonies supporting student-run journalism

The Maneater is joining student-run newspapers in a campaign to save student-run newsrooms.

The Maneater is joining other student-run newspapers across the country to support independent college journalism and #SaveStudentNewsrooms. After Southern Methodist University’s student-run paper, The Daily Campus, was forced to close and re-affiliate with the university, student-run newspapers came together for Support Student Journalism Day on April 25.

Below are testimonies from past and current Maneater writers and editors on the importance of student-run journalism:

"Everything I needed to know to work in journalism, from refining a sentence until it's the right sentence to leading a team with care and consideration to figuring out the beating heart of a story, I learned while writing and editing at The Maneater. The hands-on experience and ability to learn from your peers made writing seem like a challenge I could conquer. I owe everything to that paper. Long may it growl."

-Michael Tedder, Freelance Reporter, Former Maneater Editor, ‘97-’99

“At the Missouri School of Journalism, students are constantly reminded of the importance of the Missouri Method; more simply, learning through real-life experience. Lucky for students, Mizzou provides a myriad of outlets in which students can learn through working at newsrooms. But one of the most unique, and perhaps most invaluable, of these experiences is at The Maneater.

There’s no on-hand faculty to guide you through the process, no course material, no syllabus to determine what students should and should not do. It’s a group of inexperienced journalists throwing themselves into one of the most difficult professions and trying to make important, worthy content for their readers. You learn through experience at The Maneater, through trying and occasionally failing.

That was my experience when I worked as a beat writer in 2013 and then as the Opinion Editor from 2014-2015. Over the course of two school years, I learned more about journalism than I possibly could have in any classroom. I was able to become a better writer and editor by collaborating with my peers and trying to make the best possible product, not because it was for a grade or some personal reward, but merely because it was the job we set out to do.

The independences of student newspapers from their respective universities is vital to the learning environment. Being a paper independent from MU meant not only that we had to learn on our own, but that we had to learn what real, investigative journalism is about. When we wrote investigative stories about university policies and published editorials criticizing the powers that be at the university, we were not faced with a fear that our articles would be censored or removed altogether due to an affiliation to our school. We worked knowing that our responsibility was to our readers, not to any owner.

Support your university’s student newspapers so that students can get the real-time experience they need to learn. #SaveStudentNewsrooms”

-Stephen Daw, Reporter, Billboard, Former Maneater Opinions Editor, 2014-2015

“As a student organization, The Maneater is vitally important on campus. It allows students with even a small interest in journalism to get involved and learn the process of pitching, writing and editing stories. For myself, The Maneater allowed me to give reporting and writing for a newspaper a try. It was something I’d always been interested in, but was afraid I wouldn’t be good at or enjoy. Joining The Maneater helped me get out of my comfort zone and improve as a journalist.

As a publication, The Maneater reports on issues all over campus, from club sports to Missouri Students Association elections to research findings in different academic departments. It’s a paper run by students for students, and it seeks to tell the stories that are important to the campus community or that highlight the work or achievements of classmates.

Student journalism has been a huge part of my life for years. It’s the reason I decided to come to the University of Missouri. It’s what made me realize what I wanted to do as a career. It’s what gives me confidence and fulfillment. It’s a way for students to get a head start in journalism and find what they’re passionate about, and it’s a way for student populations to get news and information that’s focused on them and what they care about.”

-Christina Long, Freshman Journalism Student, Maneater Reporter, 2018

“I can't tell you the story about the grapefruits, but I can tell you this:

'The Maneater' is the stupidest name for a newspaper. Our color is bright green. We've messed up and gotten in trouble with every organization on campus. But there's something that draws young journalists and keeps them knit together as a "mafia" of alumni.

Student media is, on the surface, a farce — college punks masquerading as legitimate journalists. But what defines legitimacy, and who are its arbiters? Certainly not adults in stodgy national media, who themselves were ostensibly once 18. A Pulitzer does not presuppose credibility. The kids at the 'Eater, who haven't yet graduated J-school, are no less capital-J Journalists than grown-ups.

You can teach AP Style conventions, comma rules and the Journalists' Creed. By those metrics, the pros have the punks beat. But the Journalists at the 'Eater have some things you can't teach, things the big kids will never regain. They have heart, grit and every sports cliche every coach ever spouted. The Maneaters have the unique benefit of being young and stupid. They use this to their collective advantage by channeling their youthful audacity into dogged reporting. They turn their naivete into a willingness to learn and learn and learn. They've not yet lost touch with those J1100 ideals they learned, and they haven't yet become jaded or disenchanted by the profession. They balance school and work and LIFE, all while coming together to create an award-winning paper.

I've met some of my best friends (and worst enemies) through The Maneater. I still wear my "Student voice of MU since 1955" sweatshirt with pride. I used my Maneater clips to get my first couple of internships, and even a freelance gig. And I'm not the only one. The Maneater Mafia Facebook group is massive, full of pro journalists and people who've switched careers who remain loyal to this silly little rag that could, the ramshackle band of young journalists just crazy enough to believe their work matters.

Every time I fill out a freelance invoice, I think of my MOVE editor my freshman year. I think of how she encouraged me when I was a scared teenager who didn't know anything. I think of my managing editor, who memorized my Chipotle order and brought it to me in the hospital. I think of all the goofy friends I made those two years. The Maneater is more than a stack of paper drenched in ink. It's a community of punks who are the same kind of wacky as you. Quite simply, for so many, The Maneater is home.

I can't tell you about the improper use of a grapefruit, but I can tell you that.”

-MacKenzie Reagan, Freelance Writer, Former MOVE Editor, 2014-2015

“The Maneater was my first taste of what it was like to do challenging, community-focused journalism. Without the training I had — developing strong news judgement, skepticism and an eye for accuracy — and the friends I made, I certainly wouldn’t be the journalist I am today, if I’d even be one at all."

-Shaina Cavazos, Reporter & Community Editor, Chalkbeat Indiana,Former Maneater Production Manager, 2010

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