Each week when I sit down to collect my notes and write this column, I take another digital trip through The Cavalier Daily website. Occasionally I read something I missed when it was first published or that strikes me enough a second or third time through to set the notes aside for some future column and tackle whatever issues are raised in that piece. This week it’s the Parting Shot from Rebecca Lim, the outgoing editor-in-chief of The Cavalier Daily.
I encourage you to read it. Indeed, I encourage you to read all of the parting shots written by outgoing Managing Board members and editors.
In Lim’s piece I was reminded what the outgoing Managing Board and editors thought they were getting into when this past school year began and what actually unfolded. A group that thought they were going to tackle the digital-first effort and forge a new business model instead ended up, very often, close to the center of what Lim very accurately described as a storm. The search for Hannah Graham and learning of her murder and the tragic suicides of Connor Cormier, Peter D’Agostino and Hunter Smith brought grief and pain to so many in our community. The Rolling Stone debacle seemed to shatter some parts of the community. Lim wrote grippingly about what it felt like to run the paper through all of the difficult stories and chaos surrounding them. Proximity to the story threatened to overwhelm telling the stories well. Lim wonders whether that effort was, in fact, overwhelmed. Despite many (most of them effectively anonymous) commenters’ claims of bias, I didn’t see it. The news pieces, especially, I thought were dispassionate and informative. Yes, I had criticisms, but not on a systemic level and not about bias in news coverage.
I have written frequently about what The Cavalier Daily, and any collegiate paper, should be. The students who create The Cavalier Daily have worked to be a source of information, a place for our community to learn what it needs to begin a conversation and a place to have that conversation. Again, I have criticisms about some of the specifics. The website still needs to be cleaned up: the search tool is ineffective, and it’s difficult to find articles or columns more than about 10 days or two weeks old. News articles need more sources more often than I’d like. I still think making comments not anonymous would benefit the conversation more than harm it. The paper is, though, successful in reporting and editorializing on important issues in our community. I think The Cavalier Daily is a fine example of a good paper.
The Cavalier Daily is comprised of students, without the benefit of a school of journalism, without any infrastructure provided and without any budget they don’t figure out for themselves via ad sales or donations. Despite these limitations, they outpaced national news organizations at times during some of the biggest and most wrenching stories of this past year. They’re doing good work and I applaud their efforts in the past year.
Christopher Broom is the Public Editor for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @CDpubliceditor.