Blog: Meanwhile…we thrive on criticism

Linda Wilkins
Linda Wilkins | Editor-in-Chief

By Linda Wilkins

Welcome to the world of a Lariat staffer, where the pressure is always on and the world is your critic.

No matter what your job is – editor, designer, photographer, cartoonist or videographer – you have deadlines and expectations.

Our deadline to have the paper published is 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday. If we don’t meet that deadline, our paper, which is printed in Austin, doesn’t get printed at the right time and who knows when it’d finally make it to campus. This is bad for both our readers who expect to see a paper and our advertisers who paid for space in our paper.

Usually the Lariat has around six pages, but on special occasions and issues, we publish more – sometimes up to 38 pages.

So when I hear we have a last-minute story switch or that an entire page needs to be redesigned, my pulse jumps up a few beats.

It’s most often when we push deadline that mistakes happen. Every story goes through about three editors before it’s published. Even then, mistakes still get through. Computers are imperfect machines and do not catch all our human errors.

Anyone reading this would probably think, “Don’t push deadline. Get your content in sooner. Problem fixed.”

It’s not that simple. See, it’s easy for someone who’s never seen the inner workings of the newsroom to say, “Do better.”

To quote an old, tired phrase – it’s easier said than done. You see, as a daily newspaper, our stories come in daily. Most often, our stories come in the same day they’re published. The same day we design the paper, it goes to print. Sometimes we can’t help but push deadline.

I like to hang around the newsroom even when my work is finished so I can help where I can. Whether it’s editing a story or stepping in to design a page or simply being an encourager, I consider it my job to be available for the staff when they need me.

In doing so, I see the work the staff puts into every story that’s written, every page that’s designed, every video that’s produced and every photo that’s taken.

That being said, I tend to be protective of the Lariat. I’ve seen it grow over the past three years. I’ve experienced successes. I’ve seen major failures. I’ve made mistakes.

Something you should know about me is that I take criticism very seriously. Being unable to adjust when someone criticizes is, in my opinion, a fault.

To be completely transparent, I sometimes take emails or words critical of the Lariat very personally. After all, this paper, this staff and the work I’ve done here have taken up a big part of my college career.

When someone tells me that all that’s been a waste or calls the Lariat trash, I cringe.

But then, I take a few steps back to see the bigger picture. Sometimes complaints are valid. Like I said, everyone makes mistakes. Where things need fixing, we fix them.

One thing people should realize is that the Lariat is a student publication made up of people who want to learn the job. Their work is published for the world to see – and criticize.

It’s possible your student work is made up of test scores that no one else will ever see. You might have a research paper that you’d rather never see the light of day again. If that’s the case, then imagine that all of your work is published, mistakes and all.

So, mistakes are happening at the Lariat. It’s not something we hide or ignore. When mistakes happen, we learn from them and move on. In that regard, I hope we continue making mistakes. Not the same ones, of course – that’d be annoying. But, in order to grow as people, we have to make mistakes.

Otherwise, we’re stuck where we’ve always been.