Why I Love Student Media


Audrey Johnson, Editor-in-Chief

“Audrey, what made you want to be a journalist?”
Nothing. I ran from this job kicking and screaming. I never wanted to be a journalist.
As a child, I wanted to wear a lab coat and do anything with the -ologies: I wanted to be a meteorologist, paleontologist or zoologist. Quickly, I realized I was more of a language arts brain than a math whiz, and I traded my imaginary lab coat for a real pair of black and pink glasses.
When I applied for the newspaper at Pope High School, I did it to try and get out of Drawing III.
“Audrey, you have so much artistic talent,” my high school art teacher said. “But absolutely none of it extends into your hands.”
Needless to say, I didn’t sign up for newspaper because I thought it would change my life. I thought it would be an easy A. But two years of serving as Editor-in-Chief of the Greyhound Tracks, covering everything from the 2018 school walkouts in response to the Parkland High School shooting to the new roundabout everyone hated at our campus’ entrance, springboarded me to The Flor-Ala.
But not at first.
“Audrey, you have to go talk to the newspaper people,” my mom said through the phone my freshman year. “You’re not going to adjust to college if you don’t try something.”
Begrudgingly, I walked to the Pubs Building. I took whatever news stories then News Editor Chandler Mordecai pitched me. I walked miles in the heat to interview strangers so I didn’t lose my precious on campus parking spot. I smiled when my name was printed in the paper on Thursdays. But it was a lot of work so I wanted to do something easier.
I decided to apply to manage The Flor-Ala’s social media pages: it came with a scholarship, and I wouldn’t have to do “real work” a.k.a interviewing sources, doing research, writing articles and editing my sentences meticulously.
“Audrey, you have to start taking stories,” said the new Student Media Adviser Dr. Justin Bergh. “I read your opinion in the last issue. Why aren’t you writing more?”
Then I enjoyed a semester as News Editor. A semester as Managing Editor. Two years as the Editor-in-Chief of “Flow,” which we created (from scratch!) in 2021 and placed top ten in the nation on its first issue.
I acted like I hated it, but I loved it. All of it. Even the moments I actually hated, I secretly loved. Every set back was a set up. Every closed door had a more exciting window. Every story was an opportunity to learn, practice and grow.
I wrote stories about COVID-19, and homelessness in Florence, and the fountain’s collapse. I spent hours in the Pubs Building on the weekends. And over and over I became totally obsessed with the rush of a good story and the right turn of phrase and laying out pages until they were aligned to perfection. It never got old.
“Dr. Bergh, I’m changing my major,” I said pacing in the cold grass days after Christmas. “I’m gonna change to journalism. I don’t know why I haven’t been doing it this whole time.”
But I did know why. I had run from it on purpose. I knew I would make waves, enemies and change. I knew I would be hated, criticized and misunderstood. (I did not know I would be called a two faced-narcissistic-sociopath or a tyrant, but hey, points for creativity!)
I was not afraid to attach my name to stories, causes and principles that I believe in. I knew I was not afraid to speak truth to power.