My No. 1 love language is words of affirmation. So, being tasked to write an article reflecting on my time at The Daily Free Press sounds right up my alley. But some things in life are just too great and too big for words, and if you’ve ever had the opportunity to cross paths with the FreeP, then you know this paper is one of those things.
Coming to Boston University as a freshman, my eyes weren’t set on FreeP. In fact, once I discovered we had a paper on campus that had reporters frantically covering stories while balancing classes and others editing 45-50 hours a week, I wasn’t sure it would be the gig for me.
I told myself I wouldn’t be a “FreePer” because I wanted more to my identity. College is a time to explore as much as you can, not funnel all of your energy into one activity. But what I didn’t know at the time was how special this paper is. There’s a reason we’re all so dedicated — it just took me a bit longer to find out.
My journey to the top of this paper was something I never saw coming. I was a columnist for a semester my freshman year, and somehow I found myself getting an offer for the opinion editor position toward the end of last Spring. About three weeks into the job, I assessed the super late nights and heavy workload, and I prematurely told myself I was retiring from the paper.
I figured one semester on the editorial board of The Daily Free Press was sufficient. I had dipped my toes in the water and gotten a taste of what the paper was all about. But soon after, I slowly realized the shallow end wasn’t enough — I needed to keep diving in.
There’s something electric about this paper that I just can’t quite put my finger on. I don’t know if it’s the sleep deprivation or the burn from the blue light of my computer, but at the end of the day, nothing feels better than having a Google Drive filled with “final” stories.
So, when I got the call informing me I would be the next editor-in-chief in November, I screamed. Out of fear? Maybe. Out of excitement? Yes. Out of disbelief? Absolutely.
This Spring, we have felt burnout like no other. Another semester of online classes and online FreeP has left me at times feeling like I couldn’t bear the work anymore.
My mental health has certainly taken a dip, and my circadian rhythm has been shattered. Once you reach a certain level of stress and sleep deprivation, you can lose sight of your passion.
Everything is only good in moderation. But you don’t have the privilege of moderation as a section editor for the FreeP. You’re all the way in. Often, I wondered if I was floundering due to my own inadequacies or the fact that I was working a full-time position during the unprecedented — sorry I had to use it — times I am in.
Then, I would hop on Zoom to be greeted with a screen full of faces who made me laugh until I couldn’t breathe. Being surrounded by supportive, talented and loving people has made me realize why I adore this paper and journalism so much.
I’ve been so humbled, grateful and honored to lead the FreeP. Coming into this semester, I wondered what our big story was going to be. What news would we break? Which politician would we interview? What beat was going to be ours?
I quickly realized that every story is a big story. Although editing articles about Grubhub outages at 3 a.m. on a Tuesday night isn’t always so glamorous, I now understand the impact our reporting can have. Regardless of how many read it, our work means something to our communities.
We have reported on the Fenway vaccination site opening and the University’s plans for mandated student vaccinations this Fall. We’ve spoken with movie stars Daniel Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield at a roundtable discussion and covered the many protests in Boston demanding justice for Black people killed by police and collective action against anti-Asian hate.
We spoke to students about their experiences with racism, reported on the student protest and activism in response to the University’s handling of sexual assault and covered a story on library staff who were denied workplace accommodations for the Spring. All the while, we had photos and podcasts accompanying our articles and expanding our reporting.
I’m also thankful this paper has allowed us to spark discussions about mental health and the lack of diversity in student newsrooms as we continue the work to improve our operations. With all of my praises, I know this paper is not perfect. We must critique the things we love to make them better, and I hope even lighting the candle was enough to make some change.
To Abbie, Alexia, Andrew, Charles, Daniel, Emma, Hannah, Jackson, Lily and Nick: Thank you. The universe knew the laughs would be too loud and the energy would be too strong for us to be in the newsroom together and complete our work, so we were forced to take our assignments virtually this semester. But I know in another lifetime we got to sit in the office and laugh at Charles’ water jug in person and make so many of the memories we missed out on.
And Cammy, we did it. Don’t be surprised if I continue to text you to read over my tweets before hitting send. They may not be breaking news, but I don’t know what my life will be like without consulting you for everything. Thank you for being by my side this semester — I hope you stay there forever.
I will always be indebted to this paper and the people here who have supported me and given me a space to grow. It hasn’t been easy — at all — but knowing how much work we put into the stories we got to share has made this experience rewarding and rather life-changing.
I hope this paper continues to trailblaze. I’ll sit on the sidelines and cheer you all on as you remain objective and steadfast in the principles that make this paper what it is.
Spring 2021 Editor-in-Chief, The Daily Free Press