Sharon Pruitt, editor-in-chief of The Current, UMSL's student newspaper

Sharon Pruitt is a senior English major, student in the Pierre Laclede Honors College and editor-in-chief of The Current, the student newspaper at UMSL. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Sharon Pruitt’s love affair with writing dates to her childhood obsession with science fiction and fantasy books. Inspired by classic novels like “Ender’s Game” and “The Hobbit,” Pruitt began writing her own stories. As a fifth grader, she edited her school newspaper and later developed a fondness for zines, independent publications with a limited circulation.

This year, Pruitt, a senior English major and Pierre Laclede Honors College student at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, is the editor-in-chief of the university’s student newspaper, The Current. The St. Louis native took time out of her busy schedule to discuss with UMSL Daily her role at The Current, thoughts on student newspapers and plans after graduation.

What attracted you the field of journalism and working for The Current?

Before joining The Current a few years ago, I stuck mostly to creative writing. I applied to be a staff writer because I wanted to try something new. Initially, I was wary of writing for the paper because I had little interest in traditional news writing and reporting. Obviously, I’m glad I gave it a chance. It gave me the opportunity to try out different kinds of writing. Being a staff writer at the paper isn’t just about news writing – I had the opportunity to practice writing features, editorials, and reviews as well. It also gave me the chance to network and sharpen my interviewing skills. Trying out my hand as a staff writer is what nurtured my growing interest in journalism, which inspired me to pursue classes on the subject later on in my academic career. Last spring, I took an honors course taught by Tony D’Souza that really cemented my love for narrative journalism. What I love about narrative journalism is that it allows the writer to be creative in their writing while still reporting the facts. I think that, so often, people think that creative writing and journalism have to exist on two opposite sides of the spectrum and that doesn’t have to be the case.

As editor-in-chief, what’s your editorial vision for the newspaper this year?

This year, we want The Current to move beyond being just a print publication and become a multifaceted news source for the campus community. We’ve always had online content that runs concurrently with our print edition, but we’re beefing up our website with more exclusive content. We’re also teaming up with The U, UMSL’s online campus radio station, to host a weekly radio spot and also just work together to increase campus involvement with independent student media. We always want to hear from our readers and find out what issues are most important to them, so we’ve revived our Facebook and Twitter pages. Our readers can find us on a variety of platforms for access to everything from breaking campus news to early access to giveaways. We’re working on expanding into video as well, which will result in more opportunities for those who may want to get involved with The Current but don’t have an interest in writing or photography. There are opportunities for everyone, no matter what they’re interested in.

During your time with The Current, what’s one of your favorite or most memorable stories you’ve reported on, edited or been involved with?

I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of things that were completely new to me. My first interview was with comedian Tony Roberts before he performed at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center with Damon Williams and B-Phlat. As a staff writer just starting out, it was really cool for me to interview someone I had seen on TV, but at the same time, kind of nerve-wracking and bizarre. I’ve also really enjoyed the way that it forces you to learn as much as you can about this university. There are so many great organizations and programs that I may not have known existed had I not joined The Current.

Why do you feel student newspapers are important?

Student newspapers provide students with easily accessible news that’s relevant to their daily lives. While they can count on national publications to inform them about current events, student newspapers exist to let students know about what’s going on at their universities, a place where, it’s safe to say, they spend a large amount of their time. Student newspapers also function as training grounds for students interested in journalism, photography, and/or business/advertising. The Current has an editorial, photography, and business/advertising department that can offer students hands-on experience in their field of choice.

What are your plans after you graduate from UMSL?

After I graduate, I’d like to pursue journalism and/or social work, since those two areas are where my passions lie. I enjoy writing about social issues and view community-based reporting as a type of community service.

Ryan Heinz

Ryan Heinz

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