I’ve written more ledes than I can count for The Daily Free Press, but I’m at a loss for this one.
This year has been about exploration. As Managing Editor this past fall and Editor-in-Chief this spring, I was fortunate enough to be a part of two of the most talented, inspiring and dedicated teams of journalists that I could ever dream up.
I entered the semester knowing it would be a challenge. While we were still trying to find our footing as a digital-first publication, I wanted to push ourselves to go beyond the “transition year” mindset and find places for innovation. It was scary — while our predecessors were there for support every step of the way, the dreams we had were unlike anything that had been done at the FreeP. For every question we had, it was up to us to find the answers.
We were all taking a shot in the darkness, and we had to put trust in each other that whatever came as a result, we would work through it together.
And if I sat here and told you the result was a perfect publication, filled with the best of the best every single day, I’d be lying.
But those moments of failure or those times when we opened the paper and thought, “Wow, we could’ve done better,” that’s when we stepped out of our comfort zones and became professional journalists. It was in those moments that I realized all the FreeP was teaching us.
Immersing myself in the world of college journalism — and an independent student newspaper at that — has been the most challenging and rewarding thing I’ve ever done. Five nights a week, a group of college students willingly spends 8 or more hours in a smelly, dark office to create something beautiful. We don’t have a faculty advisor. We don’t have a university endowment. All we have is each other.
This semester, I’ve watched our organization grow in so many ways. Digitally, our multimedia presence grew with the introduction of our podcast section, BU’s first and only medium for long-form audio journalism. We also expanded our video department and redefined our social media goals. Mike and Sam, I have none other than you to thank you this. You came to me at the end of last semester, bursting with ideas, and between the two of you, I was constantly in awe with the work you helped us produce.
We covered the trial of admitted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, and published a story daily, with reporters at the courthouse every single day of the trial. Lexie, thank you for your perseverance and your dedication to this ongoing story. You maintained a strong city section while finding 28-hour-a-week trial coverage, and that in and of itself, is a remarkable feat.
And most recently, we’ve found our place in the sexual assault conversation on campus. After publishing a letter to the editor this week that broke viewing records on our website within hours, we have found ourselves in the spotlight, inspiring advocates from across campus to demand answers from the administration. Casey, you’ve always had a touch for finding the stories that matter most to students and allowing the editorial board to make a difference with our opinion. Thank you for bringing this story to the forefront of BU conversation.
From one section to the next this semester, we challenged the systems we had been taught. We strived for better and pushed ourselves to create content that we knew we’d be proud of. Serving as Editor-in-Chief is a bizarre thing — you’re aware that you’re in charge, but sometimes, you can’t help but look around the room at all the talented people creating content and realize that you’re the least important person there. The passion and momentum of the editors, associates editors, writers, photographers, videographers and bloggers keep this paper going. I couldn’t do this without them.
And now for a few other important thank you’s. Mina, thank you for being a journalism superstar. You push yourself harder than anyone I know, and it showed in the quality of the campus section this semester. Katie, thank you for your unmatched creativity and innovation and for restructuring our blog from the ground up, without any fear of the unknown. Joe, thank you for your puns and your wisdom. You inspire me with your calm, cool and collected attitude, and we all secretly want to be as cool as you. Allie, thank you for your smile and your jokes and your ability to tackle breaking news faster than anyone I know. Judy, thank you for the dance parties, the Disney tunes, the giggles and your friendship. Oh, and thank you for your patience in explaining really obvious sports terminology to me. Sam, I’ve already thanked you for your remarkable work with multimedia, but thank you for being our everything-girl this semester. You contributed to nearly every section at some point, and your love for this newspaper is unlike anything I’ve seen before.
And to Jackie, this semester’s managing editor who endured every single late night with me and never objected, thank you for your existence. Whether it was encouraging me to just make that UBurger run because you knew it would make me feel better (it always did) or interrupting my editing to show me a ridiculous meme, you always brought a smile to my face this semester, and I wouldn’t have been the editor-in-chief I was without you as managing editor.
As I look around the newsroom, writing this final word, I leave with pride for what we’ve accomplished and nothing but hope for the future. This semester, I had the pleasure of working with a group of people who became my mentors, my second family and my best friends. They inspired me to be better than I thought I could be, and we all pushed each other to our limits for the sake of this newspaper.
Being a college journalist isn’t always fun. It’s filled with 20-hour days, a lot of fast food and more deadlines than one mind can keep straight. But when you walk out of the office at 7 a.m. and look around in the light of day, there’s something amazing about knowing that you just spent the night creating a newspaper with your best friends. There’s something amazing about watching someone in class reading your work.
It’s a reminder that college journalism is one of the most powerful tools we have. It lets us experiment across sections and try things we never thought we could do. And more importantly, it lets us challenge the world around us.
When we step outside this office, we may just be college students. But when we’re here, we’re professional journalists. And I have no one but the FreeP to thank for giving me that experience.