To be honest, I do not really remember the first time I stepped in the Vidette building during my freshman year very well, but I do remember exactly how I felt.

Walking in for my interview for a job as a sports reporter, I remember feeling a rush of mixed emotions. Nervousness yet some assuredness hit me at the same time. I remember my heart pounding so hard in my ears that I could barely focus on the questions being asked by then-Sports Editor Jon Barlas.

But walking out I felt a serene sense of calmness flood over me.

Soon after that interview I was brought on as a sports reporter and began my career with The Vidette.

I had the opportunity to cover college sports for the first time, the chance to take over a beat for the first time and made my first appearance on a podcast.

Soon my freshman year was nearing the end and sub-editor applications were up. I kind of half-heartedly submitted my application for sports editor, thinking I had a slim chance. But by some small miracle, the job was mine and a whole new world opened once again for me.

For the first time, I was able to get a taste of what a reporter’s weekly grind was like. More opportunity quickly arose out of the sports editor job, from covering a deep playoff run by the Illinois State University football team to traveling to Bradley to experience the ISU vs. BU rivalry, to getting the opportunity to feel the rush of wining No. 1 in General Excellence at the Illinois College Press Association conference with my coworkers and friends.

Without The Vidette I surely do not think I would be at this point in my short career. In my nearly two years at the paper I have learned how to cover beats, the importance of social media, how to design and much more.

Little did I know in August of my freshman year how important that little building on the corner of Locust and University would become. Little did I know the hours that would be spent in the sports corner and the podcast room or the connections that would come out of it.

So, when I heard that there would be changes coming to The Vidette, that same sense of nervousness came over me the day of my interview. A nervousness that the whole landscape of The Vidette will change too drastically.

This comes as interesting timing for a paper that has taken home first place in general excellence two out of the last three years at ICPA. If the content has been on a strong level what is the issue?

Even though The Vidette has continued to produce great content, waning support and funds have forced Illinois State’s hand.

While some have suggested that we have failed to adapt, that actually could not further from the truth. In all reality, The Vidette has made — perhaps underappreciated — strides in making us more than just a newspaper. Advertising support and funding, or lack of, has really been the issue.

Not that the news had come as much of a surprise. Changes have been gradually coming in recent years as we have cut back the number of newspapers per week. The writing has been on the wall for some time that more changes would be made. It can be seen all over the country in college and professional newspapers struggling for funding and being forced to continuously make changes.

Changes are coming, but those changes will not be known in the coming days, weeks or possibly even months. And when these uncertain changes come, I am confident the staff will take them in stride and continue adapting.

JAKE SERMERSHEIM is a Sports Editor for The Vidette. He can be contacted at vidette_jrserme@ilstu.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @JakeSermersheim


IF YOU SUPPORT THE VIDETTE MISSION of providing a training laboratory for Illinois State University student journalists to learn and sharpen viable, valuable and marketable skills in all phases of print and digital media, please consider contributing to this most important cause. Thank you.

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