As the spring semester ends, so does my undergraduate career and employment with the Reveille. My hope is that there will be a politically-minded writer to take my place. With that hope, I would like to write an open letter to future political communicators on what I have learned from my time at the Reveille.
Foremost, relish the opportunity to be an outsider. The health of a republic relies on the input and debate of different ideas and the questioning of establishments. I was brought to the Reveille to be a conservative voice in a liberal-leaning platform. While initially I was uncertain if I even wanted this job, I knew that there was a conservative population at the University that needed representation, and I had the opportunity to represent them. At times, being the dissenting voice will seem futile, but a political communicator must never let that opportunity go to waste.
Secondly, a political communicator will lose people they thought were friends. The sad reality is that less people are willing to look past minor political differences and will cut others out of their lives because of such disagreements. Quite frankly, such people were never true friends to begin with, and are not worth the heartache. Personally, I am not an avid Twitter user, but there were multiple times when people I considered my brothers attacked me purely because we did not agree on matters such as microaggressions. Although not all of my friends agree with my beliefs, we still respect each other. As a political communicator, one will learn who their real friends are.
A political communicator should always have an open mind. Political issues are complex and ever-changing. One should be ready to debate and digest the facts on both sides of any issue. A truly persuasive argument will be willing to address the concerns and points on both sides, and then capitalize on a resolution of an issue. Moreover, as new facts present themselves, a communicator may change their stance on an issue they seemed certain of. In my time at the Reveille, I found the most benefit came from debating pitch ideas at the weekly budget meeting, because it helped me see an issue from different perspectives before my work got published. Furthermore, as issues develop, there have been times where I have changed my mind about certain issues I have written about the week before.
Finally, and maybe the most important piece of advice I can impart on a future communicator, is to take critics with a grain of salt. Certainly, it is special when somebody goes out of their way to leave a nice comment on a story, particularly when it is much easier to just click a like button or move on altogether. But it is much easier to use the comment section to ridicule an author and preach, which many people do. A political communicator should not let nasty comments affect them. In my own experience, I have been called everything from a Nazi to a snowflake in the Facebook comments section. But if these bullies who slander others on social media were so smart, they would have their own column. If a communicator has done their research and is confident in their beliefs, then they have all the assurance they need to publish their opinions. Simply put, a communicator should be brave.
I write this down not to scare any communicators away from engaging in politics, but as a fair warning that it is not always comfortable. I myself am only a beginner, but I know that the skill of debate and persuasion will be needed to secure a better tomorrow for communities across the U.S.
As I said previously, I hope someone takes my place and I cannot wait to see what they contribute to the newspaper that I love.
Brett Landry is a 21-year-old political communications senior from Bayou Petit Caillou, Louisiana.