FINAL WORD: Letter from the editor

As a freshman staff writer and eventual editor, one of my favorite indulgences included rifling through old issues of the FreeP and seeing what that day’s surprise would be. I would laugh at some of the ridiculous advertisements, scoff at the outdated political cartoons and try to find bylines of my esteemed FreeP role models.

But mostly, I would read for striking headlines and scan for ways the work of my predecessors made changes on campus. To me, no journalism is more noble than the kind that stirs up conversation, makes a difference and changes policy — all of which FreeP has successfully accomplished in its 46 years. As I leafed through these shining examples, I pledged that someday, I had to become the editor-in-chief.

When I took my position this semester, my outlook on the history aspect took a turn. In spending 50-plus hours with the editorial board each week, I soon learned that our daily duty and semester-long goal was not to fit into the pre-existing history.

It was to make our own.

I stopped living in the past and made sure I was present at all times. I curbed my habit of obsessively creeping on FreeP alumni’s LinkedIn profiles and took to interacting with the editorial board, who inspired and impressed me with each passing day. My hands-on, often skeptical nature faded when I realized what sort of magic can happen if you let others surprise you. As the weeks went by, I realized that with the energy and excitement the editors brought into the office each week, we were writing our own story. Discarded UBurger cups and an army of empty iced coffee bottles became our vernacular, and it felt like our mark on 648 Beacon St. wasn’t just matching prior FreeP history, but adding to it.

It wasn’t easy. Oh, it wasn’t easy. And there were times when I came to the office early, crawled behind my desk and cried. There were times when being the “Face of the FreeP” took its toll. But like I tell every angry emailer, caller and carrier pigeon: I stand by our work, because sometimes, the best stories aren’t the nice ones. We carried on the tradition of fearless journalism, which is one part of the FreeP story I like to say we furthered.

Like I said, this semester was no cakewalk. But those sleepless nights and hours of self-doubt have nothing on the feeling of working with the brightest bunch of journalists BU has to offer. We’ve faced some of the most dire situations BU has seen in years, but our news editors and staff writers produced work at the fastest speeds and highest quality. Our sports section soared above and beyond with coverage, highlighting less-featured players in elegant profiles and even long-form articles. The photos this year never fail to make me audibly gasp in awe, and the designs our freshman (!) layout editor produces are nothing less than perfection. The features section also pushed barriers, sending writers out in search of best acai bowl in Boston or even to New York for the Tribeca Film Festival. Our opinion section brought us to debate topics we didn’t even realize need to be debated, and the blog often kept us giggling at the writer’s zany pitch topics. Who knew I would learn so much about “Real Housewives?”

All silliness aside, I’ve seen this group of people rise to the occasion in the worst of circumstances, look critically at the world and guzzle down coffee the next day just to do it all over again. To make history again.

But I couldn’t have done it without my other half. As much as I love to come into the office each afternoon to see the editors’ smiling faces, Sonia, my managing editor and best friend, is the reason I get up in the morning. She’s been there through the hard decisions, the late nights and the early mornings (we have every class together, ironically enough). She’s caught my mistakes, applauded me on my accomplishments and helped me through everything this semester has thrown our way. She’s exceeded the role of the managing editor and truly became the “Mom B” to my “Mom A,” as the editors lovingly call us. We’re a package deal, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We’ve made our mark here at the FreeP with silly laughs, coffee spills and an “Entourage” poster that will (hopefully) stand the test of time.

I’ve read my favorite editors’ notes dozens of times through (Saba, Annie, Vivian — I’m looking at you), I can soundly say that I’ve finally moved past that point. I’ve written my own letter, lived my own FreeP history and am happy to turn the page onto a new chapter, led by new editors, staff and boatloads of talent. I’ll have a pang in my heart to leave the office that feels more like a dorm than my own dorm does, but goodbye is never forever. The history book that is the FreeP will carry on. And this time, I’ll be reading for pleasure.

As for now, I’m going to get some of that thing you people call sleep.

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Editor-in-Chief. Bostonian by way of Indiana. Excessive Instagrammer. Seltzer addict. Journalism junkie, storytelling fiend.

One Comment

  1. This letter reminded me of something written about newspapering a very long time ago, which we read in History of Journalism in about 1970, and which Jean Weinshel, the FreeP’s first cartoonist, did for me in her fine calligraphy after a long string of all-nighters:

    “The sparkle, the vivacity, the drive, and the power of The Republican [a paper in Springfield, Mass.] cost life. We did not know when we tasted it and found it so charged with zest that we were tasting heart’s blood, but that was the priceless element that commended it to our appetites. A pale man, weary and nervous, crept home at three o’clock in the morning, and while all nature was fresh and the birds were singing and thousands of eyes were bending eagerly over the results of his night’s labors, he was tossing and trying to sleep.”

    by Josiah Gilbert Holland, a writer for the paper