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On stepping up

| Monday, March 4, 2019

Six-thousand-one-hundred forty-one miles.

According to Google Maps, that’s the approximate distance between Jerusalem and South Bend. On the day meant to celebrate Editor-in-Chief turnover this year, that number became painfully clear to me when the computers in the office spontaneously shut down.

Since I’m studying abroad in Israel for the semester, I am thousands of miles away from South Bend in a time zone seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. As those on-the-ground scurried to arrive at the office and fix the issue, I felt helpless to do anything but check up every so often and internally curse that 6,141 figure.

But then a seemingly miraculous event happened: Everything turned out just fine. Those who rushed to the office were able to resolve the issue as quickly as it occurred. And it was in that moment that I realized my panicked oversight.

It goes to show that the strength of the paper isn’t dependent on the next “fearless leader” taking on the mantle but rather the consistent team effort behind the scenes. It’s dependent on those who commit themselves to working until the earliest hours of the morning every Monday through Friday writing, editing, fact-checking, designing, photographing and proofing. Those that aren’t at the forefront of the spotlight but still choose to show up, day after day, to produce a paper together for the community.

No matter the circumstances, the show will always go on — just as it has for the last 52 years of Observer history.

There will be moments everything won’t be resolved so easily. Not every article, headline or photo published will be perfect. In those moments, I hope readers will not hesitate to be constructive while still thinking of those who put their heart and energy in their work.

Today’s world is filled with conflicting perspectives, unproductive dialogue and stubborn mistrust. It is my hope that the community we serve, too, will step up when facing such discourse — that it will strive to listen to each other rather than speak at each other, and will diversify the perspectives through which we operate in an attempt to understand each other.

I believe our ambition as a staff will be to acknowledge the value of set precedents while still embracing meaningful change. I hope we will step up, be bold in pursuit of the truth and remain unwavering in our dedication to uplifting the many voices comprising our community. And I hope that you, as readers of The Observer, never have reason to doubt our commitment to those goals.

One thing is certain: Our doors are always open. No matter if we’re right at home in our basement office in South Dining Hall or 6,141 miles away in the deserts of the Middle East, we at The Observer will always be here ready to listen.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Kelli Smith

Kelli Smith is a senior at the University of Notre Dame. Originally from El Paso, Texas, she served as Editor-in-Chief at The Observer for the 2019-20 term. She is pursuing majors in political science and television with a minor in journalism. // Twitter: @KelliSmithNews

Contact Kelli