Ballad of a teenage editor

Becoming a newspaper editor had been a dream of mine since age 15. 

I had no understanding of journalism, but I had my sights set on writing for a paper and eventually becoming the boss. 

Now, as a 17-year-old senior in high school, I’m nearing the end of my first semester as Agora editor. 

Stepping into such a big position as a teenager has been so rewarding. I’ve gotten chances I never would’ve imagined if I hadn’t joined the paper.

Maggie Sandefur

At the same time, it’s also incredibly intimidating and to be truthful, difficult. 

While I get to meet other student journalists at conferences and share experiences with them, I worry about how they’ll perceive my age. 

I get great experience in journalism and being a boss since I’m running the newsroom, but there’s also a strong awareness that I am younger than everyone, with a staff of ages 20-52. 

It’s also a lot of work. Between the four college classes I’m in, the two high school classes I go to and my outside job, there’s a lot to manage. I’ve had many nights where I complete assignments minutes before they’re due. I even completed a high school assignment at 11:30 p.m. in Chinatown with my phone at 2%. 

I’ve also gone out with friends and simultaneously edited papers or helped my staff with their assignments, whether from a restaurant, a store or even a car. I try to create a good balance between my teenage and work life, but they don’t always go together well. 

I knew what I was getting myself into when I applied to the Middle College. I had already been told how much work it would be, how hard I’d have to study and the level of maturity I’d need. However, I had no clue this is where I’d end up. 

More often than not, I find myself forgetting I’m still in high school. I’ll always be mentally aware of my age and I’m part of a few clubs, but I neglect the thought of doing “normal” high school things since mine is so unconventional. When we do have events like spirit week, it feels almost unreal to remember that at the end of the day, I’m just a high school student who got lucky enough to fit into a space with a ragtag group of adults who love to write about the news. 

It can be hard to remember where I came from when I’m always holed up in the newsroom. Even during high school, I have to think about which story needs to be published next. 

Despite all the stress, caffeine and anxiety, being a teenage editor has been the greatest chance of my life so far. I’ve known this group less than a year, but wholeheartedly consider everyone family. Growing up I always wanted a conventional friend group like the ones you see in coming of age films, but I think I’m perfectly content with the one I ended up in.