Journalism is ingrained in society. We may not always realize it, but journalism is an essential part of our day-to-day lives and we are inextricably bound to it. Whether that means reading The Cavalier Daily, skimming over news network notifications or watching the news religiously on television, we are all reliant on receiving information from the press. Most importantly, we rely on our media being truthful.
For several semesters, we have been practicing this ideal. We both began as Life Columnists, so you may be familiar with our writing. Cecy has been writing for The Cavalier Daily since October 2020 and Mario since the summer of 2020.
When we began writing for The Cavalier Daily, we both felt some anxiety — how were we, novices to journalism, supposed to deliver something that would convey our truths and morals? How could we relate something meaningful and honest to an audience of all backgrounds and generations?
After several columns, we both eventually found our voices and the answer to these questions — writing authentically. That is, writing without fear of judgment, expressing our experiences without doubting their validity and speaking openly about what is meaningful to us. There are distinct experiences for each of us that speak to this transformative revelation.
Cecy wrote a column about how the Cinco de Mayo holiday imparts overtly racist overtones and undermines the Mexican population living in the U.S. This column was a turning point for her, as it was a moment where she overcame her fear of speaking her truth — even when she knew she could be met with hostility. For a moment in creating this column, she was unwavering in her authenticity. After publishing, she realized her true potential in making an impression and opening people’s eyes when she wasn’t afraid to speak her mind. This column resulted in lively debate and remains one of her best pieces of journalism to date.
After writing about his experience of running and training for a marathon, Mario’s confidence was stoked as a writer. The experience of such an arduous endeavor invoked so many raw emotions for him — from anguish and humility to triumphant satisfaction. The act of sharing such deep and intimate feelings, something he had not previously done, allowed him to find his voice and taught him to take more risks in his writing, as he openly expressed the gratifying highs and agonizing lows of the entire experience.
For both of us, writing as columnists was an illuminative experience, and we grew as individuals and developed a more introspective view on our lives because of it. However, once we became co-editors of the Life section, we took on more responsibility outside of ourselves, as we oversee all of the content published from the Life section. In stepping into these roles, we both quickly realized the greater potential of the newspaper. We came to understand the power in our ability to feature so many unique and diverse voices — not just our own — and we recognized the good that we could do with it. We wanted to contribute to revealing the truth — no matter how big or small the story.
Concurrently, we also recognized that we must be cognizant of our privilege in being members of the press in the U.S. — the mere fact that we live here grants us the right to free speech via the First Amendment. Current events, particularly those unfolding in Eastern Europe, have reminded us that there are people across the world who don’t get to wield this privilege. They cannot accurately express themselves or their realities because of censorship or total deprivation of free speech. Just yesterday, American filmmaker and journalist Brent Renaud was killed in Ukraine by Russian forces for reporting on the ongoing war. All of these events have been difficult for us to watch as journalists ourselves. This experience has, however, enabled us to gain a greater sense of appreciation for just how valuable journalism is.
These events have reminded us how important this kind of work is and how we must not take our freedom of speech for granted. We must continue putting our best efforts into elevating people's voices and communicating truth, and we plan to do so for as long as we can.
We know we’re just Life editors. We often publish lighthearted as well as insightful articles as a witness to the beautiful ways in which the Charlottesville and University community connect with each other to find shared meaning and purpose. It's an honor to be able to write about the events, relationships and sentiments that occur and develop within the University community. Most importantly, it’s an honor to write about it truthfully, as we invite discourse and inspire discussion. Given all of this, we encourage others to not only continue expressing their voices, but also to appreciate the journalists who work toward conveying the truth every day.