The Current's Year in Review
by The Current
Hardship---that’s the only way to describe the semester. There were so many trials to overcome and it felt like every morning came with a daily damage report. For me it was important to keep my priorities straight, and to maintain a level of responsibility so I could flow with the constant waves of bad news.
Being a leader isn’t easy. Throughout my college career I was happy with being a loner, not belonging to a group, but constantly improving myself. This year was different. The newspaper needed someone to take over. It was a ship that had nearly sank in the water as the storm raged on. Luckily I was able to gather an excellent crew, and we built up on what we had to where we had a functional, hard-working machine that could accomplish its tasks. I believe we accomplished this goal.
Like everyone else, my personal life went through the ringer in this global crisis. I had a broken living arrangement and for a while I wandered trying to find a place to stay. Eventually I shacked up with two amazing friends, and I continued my work from there. I have no family in the city, and often that sense of being alone can be overwhelming. Even still, I worked hard to maintain myself, and I’ve since overcome these challenges and have soared above them.
As the semester winds down and I reflect back, I realize how much I’ve learned. My team, God, what would I do without them? They were so driven, and so happy to be a part of an organization that needed serious repair, they gave me a purpose throughout all of this, and I’m all the better for it. It saddens me to see some members go and graduate, but I’m confident that they’ll accomplish all of their dreams, and their goals are now even closer than ever. We here at The Current will continue our drive for excellence. All the folks at UMSL deserve a place for independent news, and we will carry that torch for as long as we can. Thank you to everyone who read the stories and appreciated our content. I hope that you continue to follow the paper, as we sail further into uncharted waters.
Taylor Meyer---Features Editor and Head of Design
Although 2020 has been a difficult year for me, as it has for so many others, I can also say that this past year was one of exploration. With everything moving to the virtual world, by summer I had shifted my daily routine to working and learning from home. The fall semester was entirely new territory for me; I was working 100% remotely, beginning my MFA in creative writing, and I had taken on the position of features editor for The Current at UMSL. From my at-home office space, I set out on new adventures and made the most of these unfamiliar experiences.
Navigating through my first semester as a graduate student was different than I anticipated, but this is often how life goes. Taking online courses has been difficult for me in the past, seeing that time management is not one of assets, but it became clear to me early on that between my fiction writing workshop and Speculative Fiction course, it was extremely difficult to fall behind on things I already do frequently: read and write! Where I struggled came as a surprise. Although we had Zoom meetings once a week for each course, I found myself craving the in-person socialization I became accustomed to during my undergraduate studies. Working with people solely online forced me to learn an entirely new way of reading others and communicating with them. Feedback is different when there is not an active group discussion, but more of a taking turns contributing to the whole of a conversation. Even with this obstacle, I made it through my first semester and have to say that I enjoyed it.
Another new experience came with writing and editing for The Current at UMSL as features editor. Not only had I never worked on an online publication like The Current, but I was also traversing this role under abnormal circumstances. There were limited in-person meetings with the staff, and all of my communication with sources for stories had to be held primarily online. These conditions were different, but they were not impossible to work around. We held virtual weekly staff meetings and I performed interviews and correspondences through Zoom and email. In the end, I had all the resources I needed, it just took open-mindedness and flexibility to pull them together.
As a member of The Current, I also took on the project of reworking our new online platform. The website, which was less than a year old, was already drawing attention, but the group had even more ideas for where we wanted to take our publication. Using the Wix host site was not brand new to me, but I had limited experience. By combining our team’s collection of ideas with inspiration taken from similar online publications, I came up with the current design, in which this story can be found. One element our group knew we wanted to incorporate was the movement of the river. Not only are we situated among an intersection of some of the largest rivers in the U.S., we also consider our stories to be true to the current times. We strive to provide the most relevant content to our readers.
There is hope that someday in the near future I will once again be sitting in a classroom or lecture hall, or get to walk from one building to the next with a friend, but until then I plan on continuing to take what life brings me. In every new adventure there are skills to learn. There are aspects of this last year that I would have changed if I could, but I wouldn’t trade the knowledge I’ve gained for anything.
Tori Thoele---Opinions Editor & Head of Social Media
Before I knew what The Current was, I was writing for them. After taking Ryan Krull’s news writing class my junior year, and having articles published in The Current, I found a new love of mine: newswriting. I know how to creatively write, how to write essays for class and have even written an entire play, but news writing was like learning to swim, foreign and wet at first, but thrilling once I learned how to tread.
At the first meeting, I’m not going to lie, I had no idea how the inner workings of a newspaper went, or really what was even going on. But, like most things, I was thrown into my role as first an Entertainment editor and staff writer, and later when the opportunity presented itself, an opinion’s editor. Anyone who knows me knows I have something to say, and when I tell you I found my home as an opinion’s editor, I often look back and wonder what took me so long to find my way there.
After navigating how to even write versatile news, I wrote my first official piece for a Taylor Swift album review, and as the semester progressed, an important story landed in my lap almost by accident. Along with being an opinions editor, I also ran The Current’s social media. It is through there and through my personal social media accounts that I ran across a story that I was passionate about, and thought the students of UMSL deserved to know. With the help of my Editor-in-Chief, we put a story out that I can say I’m the most proud of.
I believe the most important thing I’ve learned this semester, and with The Current’s help, is that, and as cliché as this sounds, you can achieve and accomplish what you set your mind to. No matter if I was behind on a few deadlines, or just needed professional advice, the staff from The Current was there for me, and during these trying times, that is needed more than ever.
So as I say my finals goodbyes as I graduate this semester with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, I want to say thank you to The Current’s staff and Ryan Krull. You guys never stopped believing in me and it didn’t go unnoticed. Thank you and good luck on The Current’s future endeavors. I know someone will find their niche like I did.
James Reid---Film Editor and Movie Aficionado
As someone who longs to write about cinema and media professionals I have never even given much of a platform to that. When I joined the UMSL Current for my practicum I was given an opportunity to write for an actual audience. It was here I began to find and change as a writer.
After I graduated I decided to pursue a second degree and signed on to continue with the Current as the film editor. It was a job that I have always wanted somewhere and has provided me with the experience I need to finally begin looking for a job in the outside world. There are many such ways I gained experience but the primary one was in learning to write for actual audiences and not just the non existent blog following I have.
It was just writing for an audience that was important. It was how that audience forced me to do better with my writing. When you represent a group of people you need to make sure you do the best to make sure they are represented well. It was in this semester that I learned empathy and concern for other people, at least in the work place. It was this empathy that made me concerned about certain articles I wrote and how it would come down upon the group.
Before writing for The Current my entire catalog of work was just list based posts on Facebook and the occasional review for my blog. Where this semester came in handy was in pushing me to write about things that are more in depth and nuanced. My election article forced me to do a piece that didn't focus on film at all. That is another lesson I needed to learn. I found that I have so much more potential to write about a broad range of topics that don't shoehorn me into lists and reviews.
This semester also taught me the value of meeting new people and finding a team. As someone who isn't very personable I don't really do well with others because of the anxiety. The Zoom meetings helped me conquer this fear and learn to deal with new faces in my life. I think the single hardest part about being a writer is how you interact with your subjects when interviewing them. This is why I am glad I was able to connect with all those on the Current Staff.
There is a bit more. For example learning to post for other people, as well as edit, helped me learn the skills necessary to lead other people, or at the very least help them as a leader. I learned to appreciate and dive deeper into other people's work and the passion they put into it. For me that is important because a team can't function without knowing and understanding each other and an editor at Variety or Hollywood Reporter doesn't gain that experience without starting somewhere.
In conclusion I had a great semester working on the Current and plan to stay with them as long as I'm a student and they will have me. They helped me in many different aspects of my growth and I am forever appreciative.
Jordan Francis---Staff Writer
Life on life's terms.
2020 brought bouts of despair and challenges for so many in the world. These came in small or life-changing sizes. I was no stranger to this. The internship that I needed to fulfill a requirement for my degree was canceled. The store that I had spent the last four years of my life working at (leading to a management position) was closed with only 60 days' notice to find a new job. While I had gotten engaged (that was amazing and unexpected) I had to plan and cancel multiple parties and plan a wedding without a reception.
I had plans for how this year was going to play out. I had expectations. After all, I had spent the last four years going to school full-time online and working a full-time job; I had earned for things to go my way. I felt like I had paid the piper and each accomplishment was knocked down in size. I spent so much of my life truly believing that if I worked hard "x" would happen, so I continuously worked hard.
2020 has been a testament to the phrase "living life on life's terms". This is a phrase I had first heard regarding a 12-step program, but it echoed in my mind when I sat down to reflect on the year. The phrase means to accept the challenges that life throws your way. Let's face it; life moves on after it trips you up. To live life on life's terms is not a way to avoid the falling, but to let go of the frustration of falling.
I had to let go of all these expectations because it was not going to happen the way I had envisioned it. Even if these events did not unfold the way I thought I had deserved for them to, I had to accept it and keep rolling. I had to stop taking these hits so personally. I had to release many of my expectations. I want to clarify and say that I do not mean that I let go of any goals, I let go of the frustration when these paths had to be walked a different way than I had planned.
For me, 2020 has been a year of life's terms and not my terms. The last nine months of 2020 have been filled with many frustrations but also learning to let go of them and let them roll off my shoulders.