Editor’s note: As part of a media transparency initiative, on May 8, 2017, the Collegian spent the last day of publishing of the year telling our readers about us. You can read more about the people behind our publication in the Editor’s Blog.
One of things that readers of the Collegian may not know is that it is tradition for our incoming editorial board to take over production of the paper for the final week of classes. What this means is that as outgoing managing editor for the Collegian, I have stepped back to allow the transition between old board members and new ones. I, along with outgoing editor-in-chief Julia Rentsch have made an effort to let incoming editor-in-chief Erin Douglas, and incoming managing editor, Tatiana Parafinuik-Talesnick take our places while still being available to help them as they step into their new roles here.
Life is about passing the torch. That doesn’t make the transition period any easier however. For the past semester, Julia and I worked together every single night, alongside outgoing design editor Jonathan Garbett to ensure that our daily student newspaper did indeed come out every single day it has been slotted for print. If Julia and I were work wives, then the Collegian was our baby. To us, it is extremely personal.
Because no matter where you are on campus or within the community, when you pick up a copy of the Rocky Mountain Collegian, you hold within your hands a labor of love; one that is the product of reporters, photographers, designers, desk editors and copy editors alike. All of this work leads to the final stages of print production, where the managing editor and editor-in-chief, who have overseen the entire process, approve the paper for publication and we call the presses (hopefully by our 11:30 p.m. deadline, sorry for all the late nights Prairie Mountain Press).
For the last semester, in my role as managing editor, I have been one of the lucky ones to oversee our paper. It has meant working tirelessly night and day. It has meant sacrificing time with my family and friends. And it has meant everything to me. There are so many things that I am thankful for from the past year, but perhaps the thing I most appreciated was working with Julia every night.
Readers of the Collegian do not often get a chance to pull back the curtain and see the internal things that happen within student media, so let me paint you a picture. At the time that I became managing editor last semester, our paper had an identity problem. Our previous editor-in-chief had resigned unexpectedly mid-way through the semester. Our company had massive communication and consistency problems between the different desks. To stop the bleeding and ensure that our daily paper did indeed come out every day, members of our staff like Keegan Pope and Erin Douglas had to step up using the experience that they had from their previous years in student media. But most of all, then managing editor Julia Rentsch needed to step into the role of editor-in-chief gracefully despite the difficulty of the situation.
The Collegian staff had spent the better part of our first semester gearing up for the elections and spent all night that night covering the election of President Donald Trump. We had come together as a staff, only to fall apart in quick succession and Julia had found herself somewhat thrust into the most important role within the company. It was during this tumultuous time that I applied for the position of managing editor while maintaining my previous position of webmaster for all of student media.
Given the circumstances of our paper at the time, no one might have predicted the success we were able to garner this year. To say our paper had a comeback would be putting it lightly. Under Julia’s leadership, we made the most out of an otherwise less than ideal situation. We refined our desk’s processes to make sure there was greater consistency between different teams. We focused more heavily on trans-media storytelling with an emphasis on video and photography. We developed new standards for print design. We broke important news. And most importantly, we changed minds along the way by working harder to reach out to our readers and improve relationships with the community we share and report on.
Good journalists understand that the work is never about the recognition, but I feel it’s important to give credit where credit is due. It was under Julia’s management that we achieved so many things, and she has set the tone for our incoming editors going forward. I will always look up to her.
Knowing Julia as well as I have known her, I also know this transition has been hard for her, and it can be easy to lose sight of what we accomplished when there are new students stepping into our roles and making newer plans, but as incoming editor-in-chief Erin Douglas so graciously pointed out to us: we laid a path at a time when there seemed to be no direction.
Within this issue of the paper readers will find reflections on our top stories, our work, and the experiences that were formative for us as a team. Remember as you read all the hard work that went into every single moment. And for friends of the Collegian, just know that a lot of the credit goes to Julia, for setting the tone so that we could do so much with our student-run publication. And as I step back from my role as managing editor, I wish nothing but the best to incoming editors Erin and Tatiana, I know that you will build off what we accomplished this year and go on to do amazing things and I am so lucky to be here as incoming digital production manager to witness it all.