Saturday, December 2

Reflections of a former Opinion editor

This semester I took on the role of Opinion editor for my university newspaper, and now it is finished. The last issue of the semester was published today, and there really is nothing left for me to take care of except to e-mail those who continue to submit and tell them that they will have to await for publication in the spring, a semester will definitely not be working as an editor for. As is my modus operandi, my choices and all their consequences warrant some reflection.

Like so many axioms, "Hindsight is 20/20" is wrong. Looking back now, I have no bleeding idea why I applied for the position of Opinion editor. There certainly is no dearth of good reasons for me to have applied for the position: It is required for my Journalism major and also appeared to be a good way to form relationships with new people with similar interests. Arrogance may have played a part as I decided to take on editing before the reporting and writing classes as they seemed less difficult to me. I also looked towards the Opinion pages specfically because I felt they had been so abused in previous semesters and could be so much better.

Whatever the cas, I ended up with the position. At various points, I may have said it was all right. Those were the times I had plenty of opinions on a variety of subjects and was even able to hold a few just in case a drought of pieces in the next week required a back-up plan. Most of the time though, I would have called it a learning experience in that I learned I never wanted to be an editor again. There was simply too much stress. I demand a certain level of quality in those things I participate in and have an influence over, and the constant running around and speaking with people to arrange for (hopefully) intelligent and thought-provoking opinion pieces and then desparately waiting for their pieces to come in was plenty of stress. Add on the frustration I feel towards myself when I have to constantly pester my friends for a letter whenever they say something that sound mildly contentious and even more frustration with the general student body for generally not caring to respond to any number of potential topics, preferring instead to focus on abortion and the Take Back the Night group, and mine was a world of hurt and dread come Wednesday and page layout. The last two issues proved especially difficult as a number of meetings were forced and egos had to be assuaged as people got personal in their letters and fought for their (perceived) rights to appear on the Opinion pages and not be edited.

Any of the individual elements I would have been fine with. Copy editing, though boring and something I need a great deal more practice in, is fine. Page layout is fun. Both together with kind of assigning stories to people who you have no leverage over or incentives to offer makes it very rough.

You've made it this far. Congratulations. Now let me explain my future plans. I care very much about journalism as a whole and The Bulletin specifically and want to see them reach the highest levels of quality that they can. In the forseeable future, my contribution towards that goal will be through writing and reporting. In the vaguest of manners, I can see myself taking on the position again, maybe even Chief Editor. Unfortunately, that would more than likely involve dropping one of my minors. We'll wait and see.

For now, my semester as Opinion editor remains a learning experience, like so much of my life and as it should be.

No comments: