At 22 years old, I am faced with a grand, yet vague question. What is my legacy; more specifically, what is my legacy at UNCG’s student newspaper, “The Carolinian”? With a question like that, it is easy to understand why this is such a difficult assignment – maybe even the most difficult one.
There is no right answer and there is no wrong answer, but there is still an answer, and with that being said, I hope I can do some justice for myself.
Let’s clarify something – I don’t think the person who wants to establish a legacy really has much of a say in their legacy at all. I think a legacy is defined by those left behind; those who perceived certain qualities in me or those who either felt improvement or dismissal as writers or humans because of the way I chose to lead. I’d like to say this legacy thing is all up to me, but to be frank, it’s not. All I can really say is what I “hope” people took away from my work as the arts and entertainment editor, and what I personally took away from the experience.
As for the former point, I must say as a disclaimer that what I’m going to say is probably far off from what my staff writers actually learned from me – a novice leader. I always thought I never had much to give my writers but a hard work ethic and a constant slew of texts about deadline.
Yet, I do hope my staff writers learned more about real-world journalism, from the need to hear out another’s point of view through interviews, to the necessity of keeping one’s voice in between the objectivity. More importantly, however, I hope my writers felt my editing faithfully represented themselves as college journalists. My biggest fear is that I didn’t represent my writers fairly or accurately – that my editing hijacked their own hard work.
In addition to that, I hope my writers remember me as an editor who cared about them, whether that be my need to find stories they were excited to cover or about their personal lives outside of the newspaper. We are all students, just trying to complete our school work while trying to stick to our priorities, such as part-time jobs, friends and family. I understand that. Hell, I have a life of my own outside of the paper.
Yet, worrying about my writers’ personal lives placed me in a civil ultimatum – do I please my writers or do I become an uncaring, hateful boss? I’m not sure I ever decided on either, but I’m not sure I had to. All I know is that I didn’t find the happy medium I wanted to find, now, a year after taking the position.
I am filled with gratitude for my staff writers’ tireless work, especially when every word was written voluntarily. I think, together, we continuously put out an interesting and diverse section. Thank you for all your stunning minds, words and thoughts.
As for the community, I hope they were informed and entertained. I hope they were intrigued by my writers’ commentary – their candid reviews. I hope one person picked up a paper and decided from then on, that they wanted to continue reading it religiously. But, then again, that is quite a monstrous-sized hope.
Print media is dying; not a soul would disagree – I’m sure of it, but whether the stories were read in print or online would not be an issue, just that they were read in some capacity. I’d hope the work and time my writers and I put forth was appreciated by the UNCG community because I know we put forth more than most students would want to for limited to no pay.
However, being the newspaper’s Arts and Entertainment Editor for a year has taught me more about myself than anything else. So far in my short life, this leadership position became the most important one yet.
Reflecting on the youthful girl who loved reading “Teen Vogue” and “Seventeen,” I know she would be proud of me today. She used to spend lazy summer days Googling ways to acquire a job in print media, outlining the steps involved in “breaking into” a dying field. I can recall reading repeatedly the need for numerous internships and collating stories into a single portfolio. Luckily, being an editor has allowed me to do that on a grander scale than just being a staff writer.
I have gained internships solely because of my work at The Carolinian. And through my experiences, I have gained more passion for a news medium that most people question its continued existence.
But, I have also learned that being a boss is one of the most challenging roles for me to play. Not only did I struggle with my authority over staff writers who were all nearly my age, but I struggled with how to keep mental lists and constant email communication with public relations workers, community members and my writers.
I have experienced my share of faults in the position, and I will not deny them. I’ve had a few moments where I had to work on the cuff to get a minimum of six articles in the drive, resulting with me taking on the responsibility to write three articles for a single week. I have allowed misinformation to print, and then have proceeded to edit those mistakes and patch any harm felt by the UNCG and Greensboro community. For an entire year, I have forfeited my weekends and traded them in sometimes for a series of meltdowns while editing for hours on end.
Though I handled these moments with what I think was a kind of grace, I continue to believe I’m not the best boss. After months of holding the position, I realized I am better suited to be the busy reporter, who only takes care of her own work. Fortunately, I will be doing just that after graduation, while I work as a reporter at a community newspaper in Maine.
In the end, though, making a legacy requires the work of many others – those others, in my case, are my writers, fellow newspaper staffers and our loyal readers. So, thank you; without everyone’s involvement, there would be no legacy to share.