I’ve been on staff at the Famuan for almost two years, and every semester we dread the day we’ll see them: Capstone seniors. Wild-eyed and desperate, they knock down the doors of the Famuan and stalk editors, begging for stories to complete their Capstone requirements.
For those of you outside of the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication, here’s the definition of Capstone (n.): A mock interview all graduating seniors must complete before being permitted to graduate at the end of their final semester; includes an assessment of all work completed throughout the student’s duration in the school.
The experience is often described as emasculating, torturous, stress inducing, physically painful and mentally destructive. For those who come out alive, they also describe it as one of the most important tests in their entire career as a student journalist. Panelists tear apart each and every clip broadcast, public relations, graphic design and print students have ever produced to decide if the student is adequately prepared to compete in their specific field.
You would think, when preparing for an interview that determines whether or not a student will walk across the stage and receive a diploma on April 30, the student would take every precaution to ensure he is prepared well in advance.
Students will blindly bump through their sequence right until two weeks before their Capstone, then suddenly wake up from their coma and realize they need to complete 10 stories in 14 days.
They come with every excuse in the book: I’ve been busy with my classes and internships; I tried a couple of times but my stories were rejected; I’ve never written an article before and I was nervous I couldn’t do it; I could never get in contact with an editor.
Not once, though, have I heard a senior admit the real reason he/she is approaching Capstone without clips: I just didn’t care; I had other things on my mind, other things were more important, and taking the time to talk to an editor and put together 10 decent clips that showcase my writing abilities simply was not a priority to me.
The worst part about it? They will beg for stories, insisting they “just want to get their clips and graduate,” and then turn in sloppily written articles that they obviously invested little time and effort into. That leaves the editor with an incomplete article that they must transform into something readable and usable.
We see this situation over and over and over again, and, by God, we are tired of it. We’re tired of being set up and screwed over by students who “just want to graduate” and care nothing about putting in the time, effort and work, and then want to get angry when we either won’t publish their story or put a double-byline on a story that they barely wrote.
I’m a sophomore, a full two years away from graduation and my own Capstone evaluation, and I have almost 100 clips.
So basically there is no excuse for the frantic begging for “any old story” to write to go up online and the frustration at editors when we don’t have random stories lying around to satisfy 50 seniors at once. Come Capstone time, it’s every procrastinator, writer and especially editor for him or herself.
To all Capstone seniors out there, next time your story isn’t run or sent back, just know that a lack of planning on your part does not count for an emergency on ours.