Beyond the basement

THEY SAY it takes a village to raise a child, and the same concept applies to The Cavalier Daily. The newspaper you pick up each day is indebted not only to the couple hundred staff members who write and edit articles, take photos, manage our finances and design pages. Many people who rarely set foot in the basement of Newcomb Hall have made contributions to The Cavalier Daily over the past year — and in some cases, over a much longer period — that have significantly enhanced the quality of the articles you read each day.

Having to produce about 25 articles a week, our news writers and editors would have a much harder job without the help provided by Carol Wood and the rest of the University Media Relations staff. The University always seems to schedule significant announcements at the worst possible times for our staff members; however, we have been equally guilty of inconveniencing Carol on many weekends and late weeknights. Nevertheless, she has always pulled through to help our news staff get the most accurate, complete information regarding University-related topics to deliver to readers.

A number of other administrators — despite probably having better things to do, like dealing with the University’s dwindling endowment, a mumps epidemic or dean searches — have always graciously made time to speak with our writers when an article would benefit from their comments. I speak on behalf of the news department in thanking John T. Casteen, III, Leonard Sandridge, Arthur Garson, Yoke San Reynolds, Susan Carkeek, Bill Harvey, Yvonne Hubbard, Maurice Apprey, James Turner, James Aylor, Paul Mahoney, Sandy Gilliam, Robert Pianta, Mike Citro, Greg Roberts and the late John Blackburn for their generous gifts of time and knowledge.

These sources, among others, could not have been so helpful, though, if our staff didn’t know it was worth calling them to learn about a particular issue. Though The Cavalier Daily has beat reporters who try to keep an ear open for all sorts of news topics, it’s impossible for a staff of 12 to always know about everything that is going on at an institution of over 20,000 people. A “thank you” is owed to the student organizations that have taken steps to make their activities more transparent for the media, as well as to all of the students, alumni and University staff members who have taken time to send us news tips relating to topics ranging from potential scandals to dance performances. The staff has appreciated each of the ideas.

I enjoyed opening e-mails with news tips much more than I typically enjoyed opening e-mails filled with complaints about The Cavalier Daily’s reporting; however, our newspaper would not be able to progress without continual, critical feedback. It only takes a couple minutes to send a quick e-mail to our staff members; I hope many of you will take the time to do so regularly throughout the next year in order to help the new Cavalier Daily staff learn as much as I had the opportunity to learn during my term.

Though critical feedback, story ideas and accessibility to sources help The Cavalier Daily tremendously, sometimes things just go wrong. A staff member receives a threat involving the bridge on Emmet Street thanks to aggressive reporting techniques, has a door slammed in her face in rural Illinois while pursuing a bizarrely interesting story, or finds herself in the basement of Newcomb Hall — rather than in the library — on the night before her most important exam of the semester. At times like these, you, The Cavalier Daiy’s readers, have helped me and other staff members move forward, knowing that even when it’s difficult, we have the responsibility to provide you with the most well-written, accurate, timely and newsworthy articles we are capable of producing.

Finally, a special thanks is owed to Professor Fishback, who made me – like many other University students over the years — excited about journalism, and to Alex Sellinger, for helping me to develop and pursue that interest when I joined the Cavalier Daily staff. I hope the 120th Cavalier Daily staff — thanks in part to the help and support of the University community — will develop that same passion over the next year.

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