In response to “The Horizon may be changing for the worse”

How the Horizon paywall may affect job searches

Wesley Stenzel, Journalism student at USC and Westmont Alumnus

The following letter was written in response to the article “The Horizon may be changing for the worse.” Opinions expressed in letters and other editorials, unless otherwise stated, are those of the writers and not of The Horizon staff or the college collectively.

Hello! I recently learned of the possibility of the Horizon being placed behind a paywall, and while I understand the reasoning behind that impulse, I strongly implore those with deciding power to reconsider. 

There are numerous sensible reasons to leave the Horizon’s structure and accessibility intact, as you so eloquently articulated in his piece last week. I hope to highlight one that would impact me personally, as well as those with similar experiences.

I wrote for the Horizon for three of my four years at Westmont, and the work I produced was enough to impress the admissions team at USC’s journalism school. I’m a few weeks away from obtaining my Master’s in Specialized Journalism there, and I would not have been able to be considered for this program (or others like it) without unlimited access to the Horizon’s website. 

Maintaining public access to the online newspaper is absolutely essential for students and alumni who hope to pursue journalism and writing in their post-Westmont careers, so blocking all (or even just a portion) of the Horizon’s contents from public view would effectively prevent past, present, and future Warriors from pursuing work and further education in this field. It’s immensely difficult to find publications and institutions that will employ or educate writers if their writing isn’t published on a public platform like the Horizon––social media, personal blogs, and unpublished material never hold a sufficient sense of legitimacy in the eyes of employers, editors, and admissions teams. 

As I’m starting to apply for journalism jobs, I’m repeatedly linking to some of my Horizon pieces as writing samples so editors can get a sense of my writing style. I produced some of my strongest work at Westmont, and a paywall would limit my personal ability to share the writing of which I’m proudest. 

In sum, blocking the Horizon from public access would prevent Westmont alumni from further writerly pursuits, and it would break my heart if future writers were unable to follow the path that I’ve been so lucky to take. If Westmont seeks to foster a community of people who can engage with the world in thoughtful, informed dialogue, it’s absolutely imperative to keep the Horizon free for all.

Wesley Stenzel ‘20

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