The Daily Northwestern published seven stories this year from six cherubs.
The articles covered a scavenger hunt competition, stained glass windows in Alice Millar Chapel, Willie the Wildcat, musicals in Evanston, samba dancers, businesses on Fourth of July and board games in a local cafe.
This year marked the most cherub stories published in The Daily, said Marissa Martinez, summer editor. Martinez is a cherub alum and was a community associate in the program in 2018.
To be considered, cherubs pitched their ideas to community associate Emma Edmund, who has also served as the assistant city editor for The Daily.
“What I look for when I listen to the pitches is something that is relevant now, something we haven’t reported before and if the story is fully reported,” Edmund said.
Avani Kalra of Chicago wrote about the surge at local businesses on the Fourth of July.
“This is not necessarily the typical article I would’ve written, because I am not somebody who’s super into business,” she said. “I would say step outside your comfort zone and learn something interesting.”
Cherubs also used their background to report stories.
Sarah Strubbe of Riverside, Illinois, wrote about the stained glass windows in Alice Millar Chapel, the same chapel where her parents got married.
Isabella Werneck of Rio de Janeiro was glad to find a piece of her own culture when she heard samba music in the July Fourth parade.
“It felt a bit like home,” she said. “It just got me interested, and I wanted to show my culture to Evanston and to my peers here.”
The editing is a challenge not only for cherubs but also for editors at The Daily, including two managing editors, two copy editors and a web editor, Martinez said.
Editors suggest changes and add comments on the cherubs’ stories, Edmund said. Besides making the changes and replying to comments, cherubs had to prove their stories were accurate.
“Emma wanted me to prove that some of the things are correct, which was a bit challenging because my interview was mostly in Portuguese,” Werneck said. “I had to translate exactly what the person was saying in my recording to her.”
Editors sometimes search the interviewees’ Facebook pages to make sure the spelling of their names are correct, said Isabel Funk of Mercer Island, Washington.
For more timely stories, cherubs, instructors and other editors stayed up late to collaborate on Google Docs.
“Emma knocked on my door at about 11:30 at night,” Strubbe said. “I thought I was in trouble.”
Despite all the extra work, Martinez said she enjoys the process.
“It was really fun to edit them,” Martinez said.
Other cherubs would repost their friends’ articles online to show their support.
“All my friends were very supportive and happy for me when they found out,” said Martha Lewand of Scotch Plains, New Jersey.
Ultimately, journalists write because they are passionate about something, not to get their articles published, Martinez said.
“As much as I enjoyed being published in The Daily Northwestern, it is important to remember the bigger picture,” Werneck said. “The most important thing for me was to go back to Brazil and say, ‘OK, I learned all these things. Let’s put them into practice.’”