PARTING SHOT: Another chapter ends

chloeheskettlhornsby

I have been a runner for most of my life, and many don’t understand the kind of joy you get from such a painful pastime. The runner’s high is no myth. In nearly the same way, many can’t imagine what joy could possible be derived from hours upon hours of nitpicky editing, planning and meeting and negotiating, and, usually in the middle of the night, pulling it all together and polishing final products, only to wake up to emails noting corrections or complaining of bias. But there is such a thing as a reporter’s high — when you break a story, send a tweet and watch the page views climb as you walk on air, elated. At the same time, you continue to revise, seek new sources and search out information as though your life depends on it — the cycle never stops. If you’ve found that high, you know why all the work of a reporter is so joyful. There are, of course, other reasons to love the job, and especially the job of a student journalist. The sheer responsibility is itself rewarding.

In the office day in and day out, and through long, long nights, it's imperative we believe in the importance of what we are doing. Without a firm belief that we were reaching for the highest journalistic ideals and serving the community in a way only we could, I am certain we could not have spent so many dedicated hours under the crank and grind of the Newcomb ceiling pipes (they’re industrial chic, right?). We built ourselves up in this way and burdened ourselves with the weight of the responsibility that went with it, because we had to. And while it may seem a tad arrogant to suppose that our organization is so very important, it was that sense of consequence that kept us going. What gets lost in this defense of our external value is the value of the paper to all of us — to those behind the screens and behind the lenses. You are perhaps aware that your work with The Cavalier Daily is building your résumé and teaching you a few skills, but this endogenous value is vastly underestimated. While you are pouring in hours to serve what often feels like an unappreciative and disaffected community, you are also doing something far and away more important. You are growing as a person, growing as a leader and growing as a writer, editor, photographer, designer, web-builder, business manager — you name it. You are taking responsibility for work that is important to you, whether or not it is important to anyone else, and most vitally, you are creating something that you care deeply about. The intrinsic value of the student paper to its student possessors goes unmeasured, but it is far more important than anything web analytics can tell you.

Most of you reading this “parting shot” — one of many traditions we carry on at this well-loved, vibrant, living institution — are either the student journalists who currently hold the torch or alums who have sat in my place (that is, at a loss for how to write your parting shot, and already weeks late turning it in). Goodbyes are paramount. You are expected to say something meaningful and profound, something that will last a little bit longer than the time it takes you to walk out the door. As I sat down to write this I debated with myself — should I dispense some sage advice, or perhaps leave you with a trite, insightful observation, or spend 750 words harping on about what my work with The Cavalier Daily meant to me, how it changed me and how I will remember it always? My time at The Cavalier Daily was important to me, of course. But it was a chapter, and a brief one at that, of many. I can’t think of any way in which I would rather spend so many hours of my college career than in a basement office debating things like word choice, the lede, the emphasis of one fact over another, the details of sentences, the choice of photo, the layout of page or the minute policy concerns that not one of our readers will ever give a damn about. So, in recognizing that The Cavalier Daily was but one important chapter in my life, my sage advice is this: enjoy your time here as fully as you can, but don’t regret its end too much — its formative power will stay with you. It is, after all, only one early chapter.

Chloe Heskett was the 126th Managing Editor of The Cavalier Daily.

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