The Butler Collegian is not just an award-winning college newspaper. It’s a learning experience for student journalists at all levels, which junior Hayleigh Colombo wants to emphasize as editor-in-chief next year.
“In my experience, I have learned the most about journalism through student media,” Colombo said. “The Collegian is a huge learning experience for students, so if we can foster an environment where people learn from every story and work together on every design, then that will be the goal for the year.”
Colombo has been involved in Butler student media for the past three years. She started as a staff writer for Dawgnet—Butler’s online news site that merged with The Collegian last year—and moved up to assistant news editor by the spring of her freshman year. Colombo spent her sophomore year as a co-news editor for The Collegian.
This past year, Colombo served as online managing editor and was instrumental in the development of The Collegian’s new website. She helped plan online news coverage and uploaded all content to the site, even while interning in Washington, D.C., throughout the fall semester.
Colombo participated in the Washington Learning Program, which matches students with full-time, semester-long internships. Colombo spent hers with The Hill, a congressional daily newspaper.
She said it was here that she learned the importance of accuracy.
“On the first day, the editor said, ‘I’m putting our name in your hands and you can’t screw it up,’” Colombo remembers.
She also took a class on Tuesday evenings, the same night The Collegian goes to print and the website needs to be updated. The print deadline is 1 a.m., but stories are often not uploaded to the web until later.
“Tuesdays were really hard nights,” Colombo said, “but they always were anyway. In my entire college career, Tuesday just means you’re not sleeping.”
That is the kind of dedication that drove Colombo to apply for editor-in-chief.
But she hasn’t always harbored such a passion for journalism.
“I took a journalism class my freshman year of high school on a whim,” Colombo said.
What started as a filler class for an aspiring teacher became a life-changing experience.
“From that first class period of journalism, something just clicked,” she said. “I knew this was going to be it.”
When it came time to pick a college, it was again a spur-of-the-moment decision that led her to Butler.
“I had decided on Marquette, but Butler came to visit our high school and I heard the announcement over the intercom,” she said. “I went to the session on a whim, but after visiting the campus and meeting everyone in the journalism school I was pretty set on going here.”
Before taking her post in the fall, Colombo will work as a copy and design desk intern at the Wisconsin State Journal over the summer—a position she said will help her prepare for her job as Collegian editor.
“I feel like my strengths are in macro-editing,” she said. “I’m a good micro-editor but those skills could be refined.”
Perhaps awaiting another chance encounter, Colombo—a double major in journalism and political science—has not decided what exactly she wants to do after Butler.
“Obviously I want to pursue a career in journalism,” Colombo said, “but when I’m older I’d love to come back and be the adviser for The Collegian. I can see myself loving that because student media has impacted my life so much and I’ve seen so many people blossom because of their involvement on The Collegian.”