The Harbinger Online

Senior Column: Aubrey Leiter, A&E Section Editor

Aubrey Leiter

Position: A&E Section Editor

College: University of Missouri

Major: Journalism




To this day, I can remember year how reluctant my confidence-lacking freshman-self was to spend fourth hour in room 521. The J-room legitimately scared me. Playing the “name game” even made me nervous. I was terrified of the upperclassmen, I didn’t speak and the thought of writing a real story with real sources to actually be published scared the hell out of me.

Fast forward three and a half years later, and I have no idea where I would be without the journalism program. It has changed me more than I expected and I am so thankful that I was able to be a part of such a great group of people.

Socially, my progression in the journalism room is enormous. I used to sit alone after school doing all of the circulation work, which entailed sending over 300 copies of the Harbinger to schools around the country, until 5 p.m. because I was too scared to ask for help. This task could have taken me 30 minutes as opposed to three hours if I wasn’t so terrified of talking.  Now, I am probably one of the most talkative people in the room and have taken on the unofficially official position of Co-Social Coordinator where I plan bonding activities for the Harbies.

My actual work in journalism has definitely grown throughout the years. Due to my lack of initiative and confidence, I had three stories fall through my first semester and I was only assigned four. I’m proud to say that hasn’t happened since and my writing has improved. I was able to write a story about a teenage mother and make her struggles come alive through my writing, and also do investigate-reporting on students abusing Adderall.

In design, I sure hope I have grown because I might’ve been the worst “Mixed Page Editor” the Harbinger has ever seen. My second page was on the Farmer’s Market and was absolutely heinous. I individually cut out vegetables and put them on a table. Needless to say, it looked nothing like the Farmer’s Market. Now, design comes easy and I find myself critiquing other magazine’s and newspaper’s design as I read them.

Being a part of this program has definitely come with some very stressful and awful times like the time my page was completely deleted at 7p.m. on deadline night. I broke out in my nervous rash (my friends call it Angelica) and the editors thought I was going to explode. Looking back on those times, it’s funny now but at the time I was about ready to quit.

Even though being apart of the Harbinger comes with tons of stress, if I wasn’t a part of the staff I wouldn’t have been able explore Washington D.C., walk the streets of Portland or go to a baseball game in Arizona. The journalism conventions were always a blast because people from the other schools would treat you like celebrities. Oh my gosh, you’re on the Harbinger? I love your paper! How could you possibly publish every two weeks? Your paper is 32 pages, how do you do it? Complete strangers saying stuff like this makes all of the stress worthwhile.

I know a large part of my growth in this program has to do with our advisor Dow Tate. He is absolutely the best teacher I’ve ever had and the most dedicated one as well. In Journalism 1 he gave me a 45 percent on my first story. Getting this grade absolutely freaked me out but I know it helped me in the long run because it pushed me to get more sources on my next story. He treats his job as more than a job, not very many teachers would stay up at school until 10 p.m. because we all procrastinated too long and were behind in the issue.

He has always made sure to let me know that he liked or didn’t like something I had designed or wrote. If he didn’t like it, he told me what I needed to do different and I kept that in mind for the next story. And when I would ask for a critique on my page he always gave it to me, and his sentence usually started with “I don’t hate it…” Getting an “I don’t hate it” from Tate is a kind of a compliment. I know when he completely rips up my story and there is more red pen than actual type, he does it with the best intentions. Most of us will walk out of here as hard as rocks and can handle critique. I know that will help us so much in life.

The fact that I believe that being a part of a school program can make me grow as much as I did, you might find a little clichéd. But I was lucky enough to a part of the best. I can strongly and confidently say that I wouldn’t be who I am without it.

View some of Aubrey’s work during her time on The Harbinger here.

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