COLUMN: Chapter 104 of Central Michigan Life


Chapter 104 of Central Michigan Life has begun. This student newsroom has remained on campus since 1919 with a sole purpose to be the student body’s voice. There have been years where this mission has wavered — not allowing every student’s voice to be heard, or focusing too much on general university issues rather than the impacts they have on each human demographic we have on campus. 

It is with a fulfilled warm heart that I can say last year our Editor-in-Chief Aurora Abraham made sure every individual on campus was seen. From 2022 to 2023, CM Life’s sole purpose was achieved and recognized. I was one of the news editors on staff, so I was there for every meeting, training session and event that CM Life was a part of. 

I say this because I was a witness to the passion our staff had (and has) to ensure our mission was more successful than it had ever been. Aurora continued to spark that fire and all while doing so, she made the newsroom such a beautifully welcoming space for every person that walked through our door, whether they were just a friend of a friend, or someone seeking a place to belong. I saw it all. And I was a part of every moment. 

As you can tell, I grew incredibly close with our editor-in-chief. She’s now in Washington, D.C., and we FaceTime every day talking about our dreams for the future — to one day run a newsroom together again. This dream stems from my personal experience as a reporter, a news editor and now an editor-in-chief

When I first joined CM Life as a sophomore, I had just moved to a city two hours away from home and knew absolutely no one. This was my first college experience. My first year was spent hunched over on my bed joining zoom call after zoom call, so the anxiety of throwing myself into a well-known newsroom without having any real experience… I was more than anxious. 

My first assignment with CM Life was a 200 to 300 word article to preview an event on campus. But this also meant I had to do an interview with a professor that was running the event. I was dreading that interview, pushing it off until I absolutely had to do it before deadline. But then once the conversation was rolling, and it ended in 15 minutes, I felt like I could fly. And then the next assignment came in, and the next. I still ran into those moments, and honestly two years later I feel the butterflies kick in before every interview… but they’re different, much different. 

Before I let myself drone on, I’ll get to the point. I started out as a reporter that didn’t have a clue as to what real journalism looked like. My anxiety was at an all time high, whereas my confidence was at rock bottom. I never truly felt like I belonged in the newsroom. A friendship never kindled, and I felt that I was surrounded by real journalists every time I entered the newsroom, whereas I felt less than. 

Then, the editor-in-chief at the time, Michael Livingston and my editor Makayla Coffee told me to apply to be a news editor. I had been hesitant to do so, but when I felt seen by these two that I highly respected, it felt like I could fly again. 

Once I went into the role of being news editor, I thought, “Who the hell do I think I am?” The doubts began to seep in again, and the anxiety kicked and shoved. But under Aurora’s leadership and with a new director, Regan Foster — a total badass who has seen the world through a reporter’s lens — I began to feel comfortable with the doubt. This was normal, and everything was going to be okay. And it was. 

These women revamped every aspect of the newsroom and I was in awe of them all throughout the year. I had many moments where I thought to myself, “That’s who I want to be.” In no time, the newsroom became one of the only spots on campus I truly felt at home. 

After serving different roles in CM Life, witnessing different leadership and completing my summer internship working at The Alpena News, I have come to realize so much about myself and how I see journalism. I return this fall to CM Life not only with a tan, but with a heart and mind filled with excitement, vision and love. I have had the honor of meeting so many people that have led me to the mindset I have today. 

Some of these individuals, such as Aurora and Regan, as you can tell, have had an incredible impact on me as a woman and as a leader — thank you for every bit of guidance and for simply being the flawlessly amazing leaders you are. 

To Maya Denslow, the owner of Jib-Bob, who has taught me the importance of being a human before a reporter. I have cherished every bit of our relationship, and you have, more than you know, made me want to be a platform for voices that go unheard or ignored. 

To Maryam Blackeagle, the owner of Mashkiki Garden in Hubbard Lake, and Carolina Hernandez-Ruiz, a Central Michigan University student: You have both instilled within me the knowledge of just how much of an impact journalism can make in this world. I cannot thank you both enough for your willingness to share your stories with me. You are some of the most strong, kindhearted women I know. 

With all this being said, I came into this position as editor-in-chief with changed confidence, having many supporters throughout the newsroom and my friends, as well as myself, saying this is what I’m meant to do. I believe this 100%. My dream is cultivated from the many experiences I’ve had, people I’ve met and the world I have seen. 

Journalism today focuses too much on the competitiveness of being the first to tell a story. It focuses too much on simply the conversations and money involved with politics, and not the people impacted by these conversations. Typically, those stories are recycled from other reporting as well. This is prevalent across big named newsrooms in the United States, and this isn’t journalism. 

I have learned that true journalism is when you do a story justice. This means you have done research before just copying what you’ve read from other media. This means you have interviewed and sought out the people that are directly impacted by those conversations. This means you have looked at every other angle you could possibly take with that story and creating something that is your own reporting, not a copy. 

This knowledge has driven me, and Ms. Aurora Abraham to want to change the world of journalism. We will eventually run an international newsroom that is built upon that exact foundation. CM Life has ignited this burning fire within the both of us. 

You saw it in our reporting last year. We steered away from comfortability. We sought out diversity and inclusivity to tell the whole story and make all students feel truly welcome. We looked for guidance from our readers and CMU staff and faculty to see where we lacked. We worked our asses off to re-instill and amplify what CM Life is known for. 

And as the new editor-in-chief alongside such an incredible and driven staff with a similar outlook, I tell you now — just keep reading. 

Zipporah Abarca is Central Michigan Life editor-in-chief.