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.
A few days before school started last August, I recall nervously looking around the conference room to a group of freshmen and sophomore journalism students, staring blankly and quietly back at me at our first news desk meeting.
Last week, I could barely get through a sentence in a terrible attempt to communicate how proud I was of them before I started crying (Sorry, words of affirmation are not, and will probably never be, my love language).
This year, the Collegian’s news team carried the weight of a discourse unlike what many student journalists will ever have to face: This year was the year of protests, petitions and fake news. This year had nasty women, bad hombres and red hats. There were angry social media comments – sometimes directed towards us, and sometimes directed towards the story we were reporting on – and occasionally we cried, but most times we tried to laugh.
Journalists all over the nation struggled with how to maintain the trust of their audience in the midst of a political discourse that was attempting to silence press from all sides. The responses I was getting from the community was so extreme that I began to tell my reporters that if both sides weren’t mad at us about a political story, we probably weren’t doing our job right.
As the election season progressed, our jobs became more difficult. Protest attendees did not want to be quoted in a newspaper. We sat in the back of an auditorium in July when Donald Trump gestured the press tables with snide remarks about how we would spin the story. Local organizations would not work with us except under strict conditions. On Election Day, we started working at 7 a.m. and did not stop until 2 a.m. that night.
Reporting during the 2016 election was some of the most trying reporting I have ever done, and I cringed at the thought of putting the emotional burden of covering these high-intensity stories on my freshman reporters for fear of burning them out. It takes time to build a political journalist’s thick skin. But we didn’t have a choice. Looking back, I don’t know why I was nervous. I truly believe I have worked with some of the brightest, most motivated and fearless students on this campus, and I am lucky to have been a part of teaching them.
Despite the challenges our desk faced, I do not believe we ever missed a major story. We pressed on, and for that, I am extremely humbled. I was blessed to work on this team during an election year, even though it required a few too many curses in the newsroom.
To my reporters, I am sorry if I was harsh – the Collegian was going through some growing pains, and sometimes that took priority. Know that I am incredibly proud of you, and we need each and every one of you to publish this paper every day.
I am incredibly proud of the team of reporters that finished this year with their heads held high – higher than I saw them when I first met you all last fall. Thank you for allowing me the privilege of editing your headlines, teaching you AP style and hearing your jokes. I promise I like puns – just not in a news story.
To our community, thank you to the many students, community members, University and City officials who worked with us this year. You contributed to purpose of this newspaper: to tell our community’s stories and start conversations.
So, here’s to a crazy year, for the Collegian, and the world. I suppose the two things are not mutually exclusive. And, don’t worry, I’m not going away. At heart, I’m always a news reporter.