MARQUETTE - The office at 123 W. Baraga Ave. doesn't look like something out of a "Dilbert" comic. There are no cubicles, no water coolers, no corner offices. Instead, there are walls that feature paintings of cartoon characters and colorful chairs so vibrant you'd be hard-pressed to accidentally bump into one.
And there's 14-year-old Maggie Guter, who usually starts her work day by standing in front of a story-board and looking for the most alluring news story.
"I look for things that interest me," said Guter, a Marquette Senior High School freshman. "Political stuff, things that sound exciting."
Student journalist Maggie Guter works on an article in the 8-18 Media office. (Journal photo by Jackie Stark)
As a student journalist for 8-18 Media, Guter has had a chance to cover many exciting topics. And there's no such thing as a typical day at the office at 8-18.
A part of Marquette's Children's Museum, 8-18 Media derives its name from the age of students who are allowed to participate in the program - 8 to 18 years old.
Student journalists from 8-18 work in small groups on stories which are then published in Marquette Monthly magazine and broadcast weekly on WMQT-FM Radio and WNMU-FM Public Radio 90 in Marquette. The media outlet has won several state awards, among them a first-place Michigan Association of Broadcasters Awards of Excellence for "special interest programming" in 2003.
Though 8-18 Media tends to focus on events related to young people, student journalists have covered a wide variety of topics since the media outlet's inception, including the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn. That year, four 8-18 student journalists were sent to cover the event. The then 11-year-old Guter was the youngest journalist on the trip.
"There were people there from the (national) news," Guter said. "It was like history was happening. We got to watch some of the speakers. We saw the protests."
Guter found the events around her enthralling, and so did her mother, Mary Doll. Watching CNN coverage of the convention, Doll was filled with pride.
"We were hearing about tear gas going off, and I thought, 'my daughter's there. She's reporting on all this,'" Doll said. "That was a highlight for me. It was like, 'She's 11, and she's there.'"
For Doll, the best part of her daughter's involvement in 8-18 Media has been the exposure to the world, not only for Guter, but for herself as well.
"To me, it's been eye opening about how you can participate in the world on a local and national setting," she said.
Guter began her involvement in 8-18 Media with a little prodding from her father, but hasn't looked back since.
Her first job as a student journalist was to write about about an Indian teacher who came to Marquette as part of an exchange program.
"I found it a fascinating story," Guter said.
She was hooked after that, and went on to collaborate on many stories including one recent article about model rocket launches and one on local youth attending World Youth Day in Spain.
However, written articles are not Guter's chosen form of journalism.
"Radio is my favorite," she said. "I like hearing myself on the radio. I think more people hear it too. They're also shorter (pieces)."
Dennis Whitley, director of 8-18 Media, said he has been looking more and more to Guter as a leader for some of the new recruits.
"She's your utility player in baseball. She writes well, she's professional in an interview, she's becoming a leader," he said. "She'll give you her honest opinion. She's not a yes-person. She has a phenomenal radio voice. She does it all."
And though Guter plans to continue her time as a student journalist at 8-18 until she ages out of the program, she's keeping her options open when it comes to a later career.
"I'm considering a lot of things," she said.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.