The Oberlin Stories Project

On the lessons learned working for the Oberlin Review

Ben Newhouse ’04

“[I’ve taken] with me the grinding productivity, invention of necessity, and constant grace under constant pressure that I acquired down in Burton basement.”

A dozen people pose by an indoor brick wall

Everyone hears about the liberal arts students that change horses in midstream, chasing some newfound passion, but no one ever thinks it’ll happen to them. Having already completed my Environmental Studies major, senior year was supposed to be one long debaucherous coast. Instead I joined the Oberlin Review and became a frazzled cliche.

A career in journalism was never my intent--I was just looking for an easy credit. Next thing I know I’m investigating everything from a controversial bonus for our outgoing college president, to allegations of athletics department attempts at censoring our hockey team’s phallic mascot, to the implosion of a student-run support hotline for sexual assault victims, all while scrambling to finish the chapters for tomorrow’s Public Policy class.

It’s hard to believe enough stuff happens in a small town like Oberlin to fill a newspaper each week. As News Editors, we weren’t even convinced of this ourselves. But a little follow-up here, some feature fluff there, catch a cool lecture or two, and each Thursday night we managed to scrape together something sufficient to stick ads between, as students still do.

And there’s nothing like stumbling groggily into the Feve on Friday to find your finished product: Reading and re-reading the ledes you crafted from a reporter’s rambling verbosity, filling with tingly pride at your byline over a story people will discuss all week, commiserating with friends over the question you forgot to ask or the giant typo no one noticed in the headline at 2am that morning.

You can enjoy a job well done with any given study group or improv troupe, but I promise it won’t match the satisfaction of putting out a newspaper. Nowhere else on campus will jocks, hipsters, wonks, artists, creative writing majors, people with a predisposition for sales, and that creepy guy always eating alone in the cafeteria not only associate with each other willingly but sweat, scream and scratch their heads together each week towards a common goal. And as soon as it’s achieved, turn around and do it again. And again, and again, and again.

I wouldn’t be working in newspapers today if it wasn’t for my time at the Oberlin Review. But even if I were to come to come to my senses someday and find a real 9-5, I’d take with me the grinding productivity, invention of necessity, and constant grace under constant pressure that I acquired down in Burton basement.