Smith: ‘Every day is News Engagement Day in my world’


Editor-in-Chief Sage Smith is a junior in journalism and mass communication with a minor in women’s and gender studies.

Sage Smith

Every day I engage with the news and those behind the scenes of journalism. Every day is News Engagement Day in my world.

Before even starting my own news engagement column, I read all the words of my staff, and I have thought of a million things to include in this but it’s so simple. I love journalism, I love the people I work with – and for – and I love the path the Iowa State Daily has taken me on.

I’ve been a journalist since I was 16, with one semester off because I got a little lost in life and started out with a different college major. Once I changed my major to journalism, my whole life changed. The second semester of my freshman year of college, I stepped into the Daily newsroom with both fear and excitement.

Mark “Spoon” Witherspoon, my editorial adviser, gave me a tour and asked me where I was and where I wanted to be in the “great scheme of things.” I can’t remember what I told him, but as of right now, I’m exactly where I want to be.

During that first semester at the Daily, Spoon suggested the idea of being Editor-in-Chief to me and I think I quite literally laughed. Now a little over a year later, here I am being the Editor-in-Chief of this amazing newspaper. Spoon is now much more than my mentor, but a great friend with endless guidance.

For the fall 2019 to spring 2020 semester, I was the news editor of academics and while it was stressful and so time consuming, it was easily one of the best things I have ever done. All of the literal blood, sweat and tears were well worth it. It has prepared me so much for my current role.

I learned so much. I was given high expectations and I wouldn’t change anything about it. Shout out to Madelyn Ostendorf for scaring me into being so good at what I do. But really, thank you. High expectations equal high quality.

Also, a huge shout out and thank you to my mom. She is one of the strongest people I have literally ever met. She has a whole life of her own but centers it around me and my brother. She always believes in me and knew journalism was where I belong.

Another shout out and thank you to my best friend Emma Wiebke. She has listened to countless hours of me ranting, yelling, crying and laughing. And she’s been by my side for all of it. She is so understanding and gets me through my worst of days.

A common theme of these News Engagement Day stories is shoutouts. This is because behind good journalists are good people who support them through everything we go through. And journalists are some of the most grateful people I know.

Now I get to put in everything I’ve learned and experienced to be the best I can for my amazing staff. I have such a lovely group of hard-working and dedicated humans. They are all going far in life and if I can be even just a little part of that, I’m happy. I literally live for them.

I’ve been on phone calls that last hours with editors to arrange an article perfectly and write a great lede. I text them all the time (they probably get annoyed) just to check in on the progress of content and see how I can help. I get genuinely excited to work with them on putting together their portfolios and resumes. There is nothing I’d rather do.

They are much more than just people I work with. They are friends and a support system. They thank me for helping them and I thank them right back. Now I would go on and give them each an individual shoutout, but I’ll be tweeting each of their News Engagement Day pieces individually with why I love them. Surprise!

So, what does journalism mean to me? It means sharing invaluable information and giving a platform for people to speak their truth. It means I get to constantly interact with unique and fascinating people. It means I am making a difference, providing the greatest public service.

No matter what life throws at me, no matter how many potholes in the path I hit, journalism is always my lifeline. I am so fortunate to be in this career and am so unbelievably thankful for all the opportunities it has presented.

Journalism matters and journalists everywhere put in so much energy and effort into what they do. Please read and respect the work I and all of the Daily’s editors, reporters, columnists and photographers put in. Not just today on News Engagement Day, but every day.