We’ve never really made a big deal out of it, though. That was, until the other day, when a professor asked me: “How many students actually work for you guys?” I did the maths and said we put together about thirty Christmas boxes every year, so thirty. He seemed impressed, and said: “That’s more than some master’s programmes. Maybe you should highlight that a bit more.

So here we are.

For the full-time editorial staff, students are an integral part of our working process. They help us with hands-on editorial work, write stories, create videos, illustrations and take photos. But first and foremost, our student employees are our eyes and ears within the university, on campus and in the student body.

They are the ones in the classrooms, experiencing the education, they are the ones looking for housing and experiencing how difficult that is, and they are living the life we write about.

That means we also require something of them when they sign up to freelance for EM. Journalistic experience is not a must, as gaining that experience is one of the main reasons they come to us. But a journalistic attitude is indispensable, and we also try to instil it – what topical issues are affecting students, has anything happened at the student associations or sports clubs that is worth reporting, and how do you turn these matters into a proper journalistic production, whether it’s an article or video?

A group of student employees during one of EM’s crash courses. Image credit: Elmer Smalig

A group of student employees during one of EM’s crash courses.

The journalism degree programme teaches you that the news can be found on the streets, and that is true. In our case, those streets are the campus, so it was great to see what the students came up with last week during crash course in journalism that the editors regularly teach. This time, the training was about generating good journalistic ideas. From issues around housing, a trend in the night life and problems around study spaces, students came up with all sorts of things.

And while not all ideas were necessarily proper journalistic ideas right away, that is where we as editors can help out. We teach them to examine their ideas critically, hone them and figure out what questions to ask whom in order to make it a journalistic story. Something that will benefit them in their studies.

In short: students belong with the editorial staff like salt on an egg. Every higher education medium has delivered its showpieces to Dutch journalism, and that includes EM. Former student employees can now be found at the desks of national and regional media as reporters or columnists. But many also continue their studies and become doctors, communication staff, civil servants or go into business, which is also fine.

We are proud that EM not only brings news and context to Erasmus University students and staff, but that we have broadened horizons for dozens of students.

Wieneke Gunneweg_2_9.2023

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