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Online News Day or Knight - Official news site of North Penn High School - 1340 Valley Forge Rd. Lansdale, PA

The Knight Crier

Online News Day or Knight - Official news site of North Penn High School - 1340 Valley Forge Rd. Lansdale, PA

The Knight Crier

Alumni Spotlight: Connor Niszczak to be Editor in Chief at Shippensburg

Submitted Photo
DEFUND/DEFEND THE SLATE: Seen above are editors Connor Niszcak (left) and Elizabeth Peters (right) and their design of the “Defund/Defend The Slate” t-shirts which served as a response to some on-campus backlash for reporting on fraternity hazing at Shippensburg University.

North Penn High School Alumni Connor Niszczak is soon to officially step into the role of Editor-in-Chief of Shippensburg University The Slate newspaper, and his spark for journalism started way back in middle school.

“I remember hearing that there was a News Journalism course while I was still at Penndale, so I thought it sounded cool and should try it out,” Niszczak recounted. “I had always had an above-average interest in the news, so I loved learning about the basics in my first year at the KC and then taking on bigger stories. When my college search process began, I never considered any major other than Journalism.”

Niszczak’s experience as a part of the Knight Crier undoubtedly prepared him for his journalistic endeavors at Shippensburg. “North Penn really does have a solid foundation of student journalism. Working on any high school newspaper or yearbook does not automatically mean you are graduating with a leg up, but if you take advantage of opportunities like The Knight Crier, it certainly gave me a leg up,” Niszczak said. 

While North Penn does indeed offer an immense amount of opportunities to learn and prepare for Niszczak’s major (Communications, Journalism, and Media or CJM) there were certainly a few nuances he did not learn while he was a part of The Knight Crier, particularly AP style (journalistic guidelines set forth by the Associated Press). “But I came to Ship with experience of writing personality profiles, covering campus events and knowing how to cover school board meetings,” Niszczak recounted. “I had my first story published in Ship’s student newspaper, The Slate, within my first month on campus.”

Despite the slight learning curve, Niszczak has still done an impressive job leveling up in the ranks throughout his time with The Slate. “I started working as a Staff Contributor during my first year. As a sophomore, I started copy editing, which meant I would verify facts and grammar in our stories before they were published. At the end of last year, I was asked to apply for the position of Managing Editor, which is second-in-command to our Editor-in-Chief,” Niszczak added. “Starting in a few weeks, I will step into the position of Editor-in-Chief for my senior year and will lead our staff of 45.” 

Student life after North Penn High has been an enjoyable yet very educational experience for Niszczak up at Shippensburg. “The benefit of how Ship’s program is set up is that because we are a small department – 5 faculty members – it is very easy to get involved right away. As I was learning the basics in the classroom, I could start to apply those lessons to stories I was writing,” Niszczak said.

Even outside of the classroom, Niszczak stays connected with his peers on campus whilst balancing his journalistic endeavors. “My involvement in various aspects of Campus Life has broadened my network and given me opportunities to report on things I otherwise would not have known about,” Niszczak stated. Connor has been a Student Ambassador at Ship ever since his first semester back in the fall of 2021, and he is currently wrapping up his second year of being a Resident Assistant (R.A.) at a first-year residence hall and looks forward to leading a team during his third year of Summer Orientation starting this June.

While his climbing up the ranks at Ship can be summed up quickly, Niszczak’s rise of expertise was no overnight process. “Every so often, I go to and look at some of my old work. Much of it is incredibly soft news if news at all, and I definitely do not write things like that these days. I am most excited by writing hard news, which is what I have focused on at The Slate, especially as Managing Editor,” Niszczak stated. 

Hard news, by definition, refers to journalistic coverage of significant real-world events that have a significant impact. “We have had a lot of breaking news this year, including a water main break, multiple gas leaks, an electric scooter ban, vandalism, and more. I have led the coverage for many of those stories and pride myself on the fact that we have gotten some of those stories up within 3 hours or less of the news breaking,” Niszczak stated. 

Another very important nuance within journalism is the speed at which news can be released. Whenever an important event takes place, or an impactful decision is made, it is paramount to get the accurate information out as soon as possible. Within a journalism staff, it takes a coherent team of staff and advisors to help achieve this goal of fast coverage. “Every story we publish is read by our advisor, Dr. Michael Drager, so we manage the hectic daily schedules of college life while also prioritizing getting news up as soon as possible,” Niszczak said.

In closing, Connor explained that it is important for any high school student who is interested in pursuing a career in journalism to genuinely have a passion for it. “For me, that takes shape in my visible excitement whenever we have breaking news on campus – I can not wait to get a story up and share it on social media. If you do not have a genuine passion for news, that will come through in your work ethic and your writing,” Niszczak claimed. 

Connor concluded with a final piece of advice for aspiring young journalists: “It is essential to have a thick skin. College journalists often ruffle feathers and are not always the most liked around campus, and that is a good thing. What’s the point of being a journalist if we’re only writing things people like?”

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