I was never supposed to be the editor-in-chief of a student newspaper.
I was supposed to be a famous concert pianist who would tour the world and empower the disenfranchised masses with my art. Then, I was supposed to be a music theorist who would electrify scholars with my aptitude for academic brilliance.
Then, I was supposed to be an author who would pen the great American novel and inspire generations of wordsmiths to come.Then, I was supposed to be a journalist who would put Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein to shame. Then, I was supposed to be a politico who would mend a moribund political system and rehabilitate a wanting political culture
Then, I wasn’t sure at all what I was supposed to be.
I’m still not, in fact. But my confusion assuredly should make for some hysterical future columns that will put you at ease about your own life choices, and make me wonder if I should be committed.
This is my first column as editor-in-chief of The Carolinian. This is the first column I was never supposed to write. It is one of 29 columns— one might even say letters to my community— that I will write over the course of this academic year before I graduate and then proceed to jump off of something very tall because the real world is terrifying and the idea of paying taxes makes me want to vomit.
This column is special. Not because all new things are inherently special, but because it is a column that marks new beginnings. This is an invocation for new beginnings.
This newspaper isn’t perfect. But it is improving. We got the wacky idea to make the leap back to broadsheet format. That’s why we look a whole lot taller than last year, and, I argue, a whole lot sleeker and more professional.
We’ve rewritten governing documents and budgets. We’ve established stricter deadlines. We’ve committed to running edgier content. We’ve promised ourselves to prioritize our website (www.carolinianuncg.com) first but never to stop worshipping our print form. We’ve decided to publish formal editorials each week, finally giving a voice to this newspaper.
We’ve attempted to change, and have debated changing, countless things since I officially took my place at the helm of The Carolinian last May. It’s happening now, though. Words are becoming actions; ideas are becoming realities.
I’m scared as hell. And I should be.
I’m going to fail you sometimes, readers. I’m going to barely meet deadlines. I’m going to miss typos. I’m going to run stories with which you don’t agree and that enrage you so much you want to duct tape me to a chair and force me to endure five hours of Justin Bieber music.
At the heart, however, of my future failures is not malice— it’s commitment. As the year passes, and as I await the glorious arrival of May 6 when I’ll finally hold that coveted degree, I will fail you, but I will be committed to this newspaper, to its staff and to the community it serves.
A failure is really just the ninja mask hiding the face of success, and my failures are what will make this newspaper human. My editors’ failures are what will make this newspaper human. And that’s why people read newspapers. Because newspapers are human. That’s why the institution of journalism will survive this harrowing time it faces as it navigates a technologic age redefining everything. Humans like human things.
I believe if a newspaper staff is doing what it is supposed to do, then a newspaper will satisfy all readers. It will be everything its readers need, even in its failures.
I couldn’t make The Carolinian everything you need it to be without my team. My group of editors are smarter than me, more ambitious than me and better journalists. I’m proud to call them my colleagues. I am also proud of our staffers. Staffers are the lifeblood of any good publication and they don’t get enough credit. I’d roll the closing-credits list right now if I had a projection screen and there weren’t so many of them.
I take seriously my leadership role over this newspaper. I understand I play a part in training the next generation of journalists and thinkers. But I also understand we are informing the next generation of citizens, both through the lessons we teach our staffers and through the services we offer our readers.
This is a partnership between you and our newspaper.
We’re here for you and you’re here for us. That’s just how it works.
A newspaper is what its readers make of it just as much as it is what its staff makes of it.
So, let’s do this, readers. Let’s make the best of this newspaper.
I’m ready. Are you?
One down, 28 more columns I was never supposed to write to go.