Journalism & Public Relations

Orion FAQs

Some basic philosophy about The Orion

There are not cut and dried criteria for acceptance onto The Orion staff, nor should there be. Such factors as experience, work ethic, desire, motivation and faculty recommendations and evaluations come into play when the advisers and editors make staffing decisions. The Orion’s staffing needs, which vary from semester to semester, also come into play when considering the suitability of applicants.

Despite its great success in winning college journalism’s top awards, The Orion has been an inclusive, rather than exclusive, place in terms of accepting people onto its staff. The reason for that is educational. The only way to learn journalism is to do journalism, and there is no better way to learn writing and reporting and editing and photography than to do those things for an actual publication. The level of effort increases when students know their work will be read and scrutinized by real readers.

It is better for students to begin working “a little too early” on The Orion than “a little too late” in their undergraduate careers. As a practical matter, it is difficult if not impossible to obtain the internships at which students learn so much without any “clips.”  Our students’ first clips usually come from their Orion work, and their first internships lead to better internships and better jobs. So, to put unnecessary hurdles in the way of joining The Orion staff is to restrict students’ growth and development as journalists.

What does it mean when people say that The Orion is a “student-run” newspaper?

The Orion is entirely produced and supervised by students. The writing, editing and content decisions are made by the student editors. The adviser critiques the newspaper after publication and is available to advise students when they have questions either before or after publication.

Is The Orion a class?

The Orion is offered to majors and non-majors for 3 units of academic credit. Work on The Orion for at least one semester is required for News Option students, but many students take the class more than once.

When can I be on The Orion? Are there prerequisites?

The university catalog says that to work on the news side editing or reporting, students need to have completed JOUR 327, “Copyediting.” The department also recommends that some students complete JOUR 321, “Public Affairs Reporting,” before working on The Orion. With permission of The Orion adviser, students who have adequate experience on a high school or community college newspaper may work on the staff. Non-majors should meet with The Orion adviser.

How do I know if my skills are strong enough for The Orion?

If you have completed JOUR 327, you are ready to work on The Orion. If you have not completed the course, you should meet with The Orion adviser and bring your work samples.

How do I apply?

The application form(opens in new window) is available on The Orion website. Typically applications are considered three or four weeks before the end of the spring and fall semesters as student editors plan for the next semester. Orion students start work a week before classes begin so the first issue hits the campus on the first Wednesday of classes. 

What kinds of things can I do?

Students report, write opinion columns and reviews, copyedit, design pages, take photos, video and audio, post on the website and social media, or sell advertising. The Orion also has a PR team each semester to promote the news brand across multiple channels.

How are staff members chosen?

All qualified applicants are accepted. Student editors make assignments, often based on the preferences of the applicant. But not everyone can write music reviews.

What is the time commitment?

Time commitment varies greatly from a few hours per week to nearly 30 hours a week. It depends on the student’s assignment and commitment to the learning experience.

What’s the best thing about working for The Orion?

The Orion is a learning experience that prepares students for their careers in and out of journalism. It is an exciting experience and plays an important role in informing the campus about key issues, events and people.

Will the stories I write for The Orion be edited?

Everyone needs an editor, and all stories are reviewed and edited by student editors.

How do I become an editor?

Student editors typically have worked on The Orion for more than one semester and completed numerous courses in the journalism curriculum. They apply for the job and are selected by The Orion editor-in=chief, who consults with the adviser. The editor-in-chief applies for the position and final choice rests with The Orion adviser and a journalism faculty committee.

How many semesters can I take The Orion for credit?

Non-majors may earn up to 12 units of credit. Journalism majors in the News Option may apply up to six units in the major. Other units earned on The Orion may apply as general electives for graduation.

Why is the newspaper always referred to as “the award-winning Orion”?

The Orion is a 10-time winner of the National Pacemaker award for general excellence, considered by many to be the top prize in college journalism, and was inducted into the Associated Collegiate Press Hall of Fame in 2005 for its record of achievement. The California Newspaper Publishers Association has named The Orion the state's best university newspaper a record eight times since 1994.

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