Columns / Discourse / May 3, 2018

Do not take your freedoms for granted; write for TKS

I feel like most of my peers return from study abroad with an audible groan; the United States is terrible, Knox is boring and taking a class in Old Main isn’t the same as taking one halfway across the world.

In a way, I get it. But if anything, the three and a half months I’ve spent in Morocco have made me appreciate some things about the United States that I’ve never really had to think about.

I’ve also realized how ridiculously cool Knox College is and how wonderful the opportunities I’ve been afforded here are.

A journalist came to speak to my class here about the danger he’s faced in this country: having to use encryption apps on his phone when communicating with sources, operating under fake names and having to leave the country for a year to protect his identity. And all of this because he was writing about the government.

In Morocco, it’s a crime to speak out against the King. It’s also a crime to have sex outside of marriage, or to have any homosexual relations. There are “red lines” here that people, nevertheless journalists, don’t cross: the monarchy, the Western Sahara and religion. If you cross those lines, you might as well pack your bags..

By comparison, it’s easy to do journalism in the United States, at Knox. We want to dig into what the administration is doing? They can’t stop us. We want to tell stories about people who live their lives in the margins? Go right ahead. If you want to tell a story, TKS will probably make room for you. It makes me proud of the work that we do, but also motivated to do more. Because we can and we can do so much good with the freedoms that we do have. We shouldn’t take them for granted.

I’ve spent the last five weeks in Casablanca reporting on a large feature story. It’s been exhilarating, exciting and also exhausting. A part of me wants to go back to Knox, set up interviews over email, not have to worry about language or cultural barriers and make a really amazing paper. It’s not always easy, but it’s doable and powerful and incredibly important.

I want to extend an invitation to anybody who’s interested in journalism to write for TKS. While you might not want to become a journalist in the future, getting published clips and experience working on a weekly deadline is incredibly valuable and transferable to a variety of careers. If you care about truth, journalism and Knox, I would really suggest you get involved. I know that the year is winding down, but you can still come to a writers meeting at 5:30 p.m. in the Publications Office in Seymour Union. Or shoot me an email at and we can talk about next year.

I hope you join us!


Erika Riley, Editor-in-Chief
Erika Riley is a junior majoring in creative writing and minoring in journalism. During her sophomore year, she worked as a news editor, and during her freshman year, she worked as a layout editor. She is the winner of the 2017 Ida M. Tarbell Prize for Investigative Reporting and the recipient of First Place Front Page Layout from the Illinois Press Association in 2016. Twitter: @ej_riley

Tags:  journalism study abroad tks

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