Senior reflection: Why I write

Opinion by Jacob Nierenberg
June 17, 2017, 1:38 a.m.

Joining the Stanford Daily was one of the best decisions I made in my time at Stanford. Sometimes you join a group or a club and find that it’s fun for a while, only to lose your passion for it as time goes on. But since the day I joined the Daily, I knew: This is what I want to do, not just for the rest of my time at Stanford, but for the rest of my life.

Admittedly, I haven’t been the most regular presence at the Daily. As if trying to be a good student and a functioning person at the same time wasn’t hard enough, trying to be a writer on top of all that is a real balancing act. (I’ll always be amazed at some of my colleagues’ abilities to crank out columns on a weekly basis.) I’m hard on myself for not being able to do as much for the Daily as I would have liked, and for every piece I did write, I’m guessing there were ten that I had to pass on or was too busy to take. All the same, I’m very proud of what I did get to do.

I’m a storyteller, really. In my time at the Daily, I’ve loved being able to learn about the things that my fellow students are doing and hear what drives them to do it. I’ve gotten to know the ASSU Executives for the last two years. I’ve run in the same circles as some of the most forward-thinking rappers in Stanford’s hip-hop scene. I’ve even helped orchestrate a lightsaber duel in which a brave ASSU senator defeated Emperor Palpatine and restored balance to the Force. I like to think of these stories as character studies, where someone lets me into their life and allows me to share it with others. I’m always grateful when people trust me to do that.

Sometimes I have to write morality plays. When things happen on the Stanford campus that affect students, it’s been my duty to call attention to them. When the CS department discriminated against a student for their gender identity, I broke the story. When the Stanford Review tried to reinstate a controversial Western Civilization program into the curriculum, I wrote about that. And when a tenured professor said that she was pushed out of Stanford in retaliation for reporting sexual harassment, I shed light on that—and spent another month and a half writing a follow-up when an administrator challenged what I had written. A lot of my friends put a great deal of their time and energy towards activism while at Stanford; writing about issues such as these made me feel as though I was fighting for something, too. In writing these wrongs, I was hoping that they could be made right.

I’m going to be returning to Stanford in the fall to pursue a master’s degree in Communication on the Journalism track, but I don’t know if I would if it hadn’t been for the Daily. My writing is such an important part of what I do and who I am, and I’m always proud to tell people, “I’m a journalist.” It can be an underappreciated and undervalued profession, but it’s more important now than it’s ever been. The Daily will always be the place where I began as a writer, and I hope they’ll keep a place for me in the next volume.


Contact Jacob Nierenberg at jhn2017 ‘at’

Jacob Nierenberg '17 is a coterm pursuing an M.A. in Communication on the Journalism track. The program is very busy and often precludes him from writing for The Daily, but he enjoys contributing stories and music reviews when he is able to. Prior to beginning the program, he completed a B.A. in American Studies. His hobbies include spending time with friends and listening to music, and he is always delighted to meet people as enthusiastic about music as he is.

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