The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

PARTING SHOT: Student journalism is all of our business

Jenn Brice was Editor in Chief for the 132nd term, Managing Editor for the 131st term and News Editor for the 130th term

<p>We owe a lot to each other, because we share so much of ourselves with one another.</p>

We owe a lot to each other, because we share so much of ourselves with one another.

A few days ago, my life felt like it was coming to a halt, flashing before my eyes and taking off all at once. In one Wednesday afternoon, I went to my very last undergraduate class and committed to my next career move. We celebrated the two first-place Virginia Press Association awards for The Cavalier Daily, and I ventured to the Newcomb basement for the first time in months to collect my CD grad cord. I should have felt pretty excited and maybe even a little accomplished that evening. Instead, I remember feeling sad and scared.

That Wednesday, it hit me that in less than a month I’d no longer be with the people who made these causes for celebration possible. As graduation grows closer, bright moments are also heavy reminders I won’t always be a five-minute walk from the friends with whom I share so many of the good things in my life. I’ve learned a lot from The Cavalier Daily, student journalism, my time at the University — above all, I’ve found it’s impossible to do anything worthwhile alone. There are no stories without sources and no editors without writers. Working with such creative, caring people was an incredibly humbling experience.

I spent a lot of other Wednesday nights in our basement office with a whole team of editors piecing our print paper together. We raced against our 2 a.m. deadline basically every time, placing and replacing headlines and visuals and leaving last-minute edits. At print night, everyone has their designated “roles” and “responsibilities,” but nobody stays in their lane. Photo editors help come up with title phrasing and production staff catch copy errors on InDesign. I can’t imagine it any other way. These nights taught me so much more than how to meet a deadline or manage a team. It was a time to test and trust each other’s instincts, knowing we all shared a stake in the stories that hit stands the next day.

There are bylines and mastheads — but there are also dozens of other eyes, hands and minds that shape every story. That’s student journalism, but also life. We owe a lot to each other, because we share so much of ourselves with one another.

In the spring of my second year, when I was just starting out as managing editor, first-year staff writer Eva Surovell flattered me by interviewing me about our office for her class project about spaces on Grounds. I summed up my experiences in my job, this paper and its community in a cliche but honest way — it was the thing that had already “definitely defined my U.Va. experience.” When I started as news editor the previous semester, The Cavalier Daily became a full-time job and schoolwork secondary. 

“But I think whenever you write any news article, you get to talk to someone about something they're really passionate about,” I said. “And so I like getting to help others experience that too.”

That was maybe my most pure, basic appreciation for storytelling as a tool in building community. As a writer, editor and someone finally finding somewhere she belonged in the U.Va. ecosystem, The Cavalier Daily taught me to appreciate the many ways we depend on one another. And our love for our fellow editors and staff here is just a small part in our collective commitment to our broader community.

I joined the news and copy teams as a first year because I knew next to nothing about the place I signed up to live for four years. In my four years here, students, staff and community members led the charge for momentous wins — a living wage for all workers, ethical institutional responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and appropriate contextualization of our historic landscape are just a few examples. Students don’t join The Cavalier Daily because they already know everything about the U.Va. or Charlottesville beat, but because we care a lot about understanding our new home. We get to watch people make changes and capture a sense of their importance.

Every few months, I’d barely remember whatever big story we rushed to put out so many weeks ago. That news cycle whiplash may be familiar to seasoned journalists, but for about a week in February 2020 I was convinced that nothing could beat Student Council election drama, but we were sent home for a pandemic one week later. And now my time here is suddenly up. So, in the wake of unmemorable clips and endless edits, I’d like to recognize the people I’ll never forget.

Nik and Victoria, thank you for being such cool leaders to look up to. Ankit, after two managing boards together, you are my most trusted voice of reason. Truly an icon. Zack, the managing editor should have no reason to befriend an opinion editor. I’m glad it worked out for us though, haha. Khuyen, you are the definition of a Resilient Hoo. And you’re a fantastic friend. Ava, Ethan, Jessica and Katrina, I’m so impressed by you all, individually and as a team. Eva, you show us how to be a better leader, friend and person every day. I am proud and in awe of you always.

So many editors and peers inspired me. So many fellow students, staff and community members let us ask you questions and write down your stories. Thank you all. I loved getting to know this place and still have much to learn. I obviously don’t view any of these sentiments as original — I hope they’re universal lessons to be learned here. All I know is The Cavalier Daily is a special operation that, in my biased opinion, is home to many special people who care a lot. Lots of love!

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