Several organisations offer the opportunity for students to write articles about specific topics. However, we did feel as though we belonged anywhere. There was no place for creative students who wanted to explore journalism in a free but organised way. The Amsterdammer was a necessity for those who wanted to explore practical journalism. Student journalism is necessary on many levels.
“We strongly believe that one can only make a change in a macro level if we know how to make a change in a micro level”
Often covering the atrocities and misfortune of some citizens, journalists are considered pessimists. However, we believe that this is what makes journalists optimists. They hope to make a change in society by covering the inequalities and injustices around the world. And here is where The Amsterdammer strongly believes that one can only make a change at a macro level, if they know how to make a change at a micro level. As exciting as covering international news may seem, we can only learn how to report these events if we have prior experience of covering local news. When covering local news, we learn how to dig into a topic in order to find the real story behind its appearance. We learn how to approach and engage with people, and more importantly: we learn how a newsroom works. Small newspapers offer the opportunity for the staff to explore different areas of the journalistic profession by letting them write columns, articles, take photographs, edit and produce media content.
We are optimists. We believe that The Amsterdammer will allow students to enhance their writing skills and become more curious about their surroundings. We have faith that our staff is the future of journalism: they are learning the workings of the profession at an early stage of their lives. They are determined and curious. They joined The Amsterdammer when it was nothing but an idea, or maybe a dream that seemed too ambitious.
Students have a different perspective on the events covered by the media. We are sensible, curious, and willing to put the work in for free. As awful as this can sound, it makes a big difference in comparison to professionals in the field: Intrinsic motivation, and the drive to gain experience can lead students to be more truthful in their coverage in comparison to paid journalists. They are not looking to be published, but simply to learn and discover new areas of journalism. They are not yet jaded, their curiosities are still piqued by ordinary things: everything is story-worthy.
As student journalists, we should always feel like there is something new to learn, and be curious enough to pay attention to every detail, and rediscover the world every time. There is always a new story waiting to be told.
Indeed, student journalism allows students to immerse themselves in the body of media professionals early in their life. Working on a short deadline encourages them to actively seek out and write stories, an exercise that improves their writing skills. Students create content for the students. This not only allows them to better understand their audience, but also challenges them to step out of their comfort zone: while covering an event, they are not students anymore, but journalists.
“We want to connect with students and be their voice”
Nowadays, people can share news instantly through social media, which has increased the spread of fake news. People don’t read printed newspapers as much as they used to, and they would rather share articles based only on their headlines. We aim to encourage students to dedicate some of their social-media-time to The Amsterdammer by looking at our audiovisual and written content, and encourage them to write small articles about the city or the university themselves. We want to connect with students and be their voice. We want them to interact with our writers or editors, tell us the issues that bother them, and we will send a reporter to have a look at it and investigate the issue. We want to be the voice of those who cannot be heard.
Isabel Bonnet, Founder of The Amsterdammer.