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The following article on the advantage of the training received in a Crimson news competition was written by R. H. Field '26, president of the Crimson last year.
The difficulty of the CRIMSON news competition has been well advertised. It had been called the hardest of college competitions, and it probably is. At any rate, the editors take rather a pride in thinking so and saying so. The incipient candidate is deluded with no fond fairy tales, he is not told that it really isn't so hard after all when you actually get into it. He is warned that he is selling his body and soul into an eleven weeks' bondage; yet he comes out just the same and is idiot enough to tell his roommates, at the rare times when he sees them, that he likes it.
Why do people try for the CRIMSON anyway? And having tried, why do they keep on trying once they learn the difficulties and pitfalls that await them. They try, in the first place, for any number of reasons. They may be brought out by a hangover of the preparatory school nation of being a Big Man around College. They may find that curricular work does not demand enough of their time to keep them busy. They may be bored. They may just wander in because they have formed the habit of wandering. But once he has started, one of two things happens to the CRIMSON candidate. He may drop in after two or three days, tell the Managing Editor that his studies are getting a bit harder and he won't have time for the CRIMSON, shakes hands and departs. Or he may cancel his social engagements for the next eleven weeks, say good-bye to his roommates, and start working Surprisingly few, once they have safely passed the first few trying days, ever quit. They keep on trying until they either make the board or get cut; and if they get cut, they are more apt than not to come out for the next competition. Why?
The answer probably lies in the contagious thrill which all newspaper work holds. Most of us, at one time or another, after deciding that we didn't after all want to be a policeman or drive the rear end of a hook and ladder truck, evolve the theory that we are natural born newspaper men. And there is a bit of the journalist in many of us. A CRIMSON competition helps to show how much.
The CRIMSON candidate serves no apprenticeship of disagreeable routine. He has no soiled laundry to count, no water to carry. He starts his competition Wednesday night, and Thursday morning he is a full fledged reporter. The writer, when he had been a candidate for the CRIMSON less than twenty-four hours was interviewing George M. Cohan in his dressing room at a Boston theatre. and, Mr. Cohan had no idea that he wasn't a veteran of many such interviews. Or if he did, he politely made no comment about it. A day or two later came an interview with Senator Underwood, and a few days thereafter one with Jane Cowl. In each case, the lowly candidate was a representative of the Harvard CRIMSON, the University daily, the only daily newspaper in a city of over a hundred thousand (Advt.). He was on an equal footing with veteran papers, and he was treated with as much consideration.
Much of the work is not as unusual as that I have described, but even in the daily routine there is a fascination which keeps one going through leg-weary days when stories just will not break, through disheartening evenings when one sees the products of a day's endeavors tossed in the waste basket with perhaps a caustic word from the assistant managing editor. There is the thought of other days when one will stumble on a big bit of news ahead of his fellows, ahead perhaps of the Boston papers, when his story will lead the paper with a double column headline and his rivals' offerings will be forced into the waste basket instead. There is a thrill of finding out things other people do not know, things perhaps told you, a newspaper man, in confidence and not for publication. There is the feeling of being on the inside and learning just why the wheels go round. There is the fun of sitting at the press box at a football or baseball game and exchanging opinions with the other sports writers. Above all, there is the inevitable mental heave out of seeing in print the things that one has written.
In return for all this, you must renounce theatres, dances, and bildge. You must content yourself with some less studying and some less sleeping. In fact, you will hardly dare to go to sleep for fear something will happen before you wake up and one of your fellow competitors will beat you to it. And for what are you competing? You are competing for the opportunity to give up still other theatres, dances, and bridge, while you go on in the effort to be assistant managing editor, managing editor, and president. You are competing for the opportunity to give up still other theatres, dances, and bridge, while you so on in the effort to be assistant managing editor, managing editor, and president. You are competing for the chance to write headlines, to try and fit 15 letters into a space meant for 14, a chance to edit copy, to rate the news value of stories; a chance to go downstairs and make up the next day's issue, to take the type in your hands and but in the forms, to lop off a bit here and another bit there so a column may be compressed into a half column space; a chance to grab with ink-stained fingers the first copy to come off the press and eagerly look for mistakes, mistakes which you are all too apt to find and which you are all too apt to find and which you must open the forms and correct.
All this may take on an unnatural glamour when one looks back. The rough spots may seem smoother from the distance; the adventure of journalism may seem more dramatic and thrilling than actually justified, the social side--the CRIMSON dances, admitted by Lampoon men to be the best in college, the bridge, the teas, the hours of idle conversation in the Sanctum--may assume an unwanted glow. The ex-editor may, in short, be a sentimental idiot. But there are many such idiots, enough to have filled the CRIMSON ranks in the past; enough po doubt, to fill them in the future. It is not necessary to exhort undergraduates to try for the CRIMSON; those with a taste for the sort of adventure which CRIMSON work offers will appear at the meeting Wednesday night as matter of course. Others will do better to stay away.
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