Not going anywhere
Adriana Perez | Friday, February 25, 2022
So, I guess this is goodbye. After a year of serving as Editor-in-Chief of The Observer, I can say it has been nothing short of an adventure. For my last Inside Column, I thought I’d take a self-indulgent trip down memory lane. Bear with me, if you will.
My journey at The Observer began when I joined From the Archives the fall of my sophomore year after then-project leader Jim Moster visited my Fundamentals of Journalism class to recruit students. The first meeting I went to, I had so much fun looking for quirky ads in the physical archives of the paper in the office. The group was so welcoming, and I decided the commitment was light enough that I wanted to stay.
Then, a conversation with now-columnist Julianna Conley — who was then preparing to join Viewpoint’s podcast — led to a spontaneous decision to join what would become “The Sixth Seat.” Though my interviewing skills were lacking a bit back then, and I didn’t even make it to the first episode due to a concussion, the podcast eventually became a big part of my life and how I remained engaged with the tri-campus and its fascinating people.
It wouldn’t be until the spring of my sophomore year, however, that I would delve into the news department. One of my journalism classes required a weekly rotation in which we had to pitch and produce stories for the newspaper, and I knew I would get a better experience from just showing up to meetings and actually reaching out to the editors, but I was deathly scared.
Only two of my stories got published, and at the time they felt like my big break.
After that, former social media editor Mary Bernard tried to recruit me, though I didn’t have the guts to commit. Mary, thanks for seeing something in me. Believe me that it meant more than I can express. It was your insistence that made me think maybe there was a place for me somewhere where my work was valued and appreciated.
But then, the pandemic struck. My study abroad program in Copenhagen essentially got canceled, so I decided I’d have to do at least one thing that would make it worth staying behind instead of traveling Europe for a semester.
I finally decided that one thing would be The Observer.
I had been so intimidated by the institution I hadn’t dared dip my toes beyond the podcast and the archives teams. Boy, was I wrong to be scared. I will always regret not joining earlier, but better late than never, right?
And after a semester of speed-racing my way through a variety of departments — news, social media, Viewpoint, heck, I even wrote for Scene — I became Editor-in-Chief.
Before being elected as EIC, being staff news writer was the highest position I had held at The Observer, ever. And being part of the staff just meant I worked production and did the layout for the news pages of our print edition on Thursdays. But I knew a lot about the paper, and I loved it all. Nonetheless, I was once again intimidated by the idea of being out of my depth. So, I didn’t even dare think about applying to be editor of anything.
That is, until I talked with former director of the Gallivan Program of Journalism, Ethics and Democracy, Rich Jones. He said this position would be a very unique opportunity to serve the tri-campus, and that was enough to convince me to shoot my shot.
I can only hope I made good on that aspiration of service.
It has been the honor of my life to serve my community in this role. It has been the honor of my life to serve our newsroom in its leadership. When I applied for the position, I wrote about healing and rebuilding in the wake of COVID’s impact on our community, in a sometimes divided tri-campus, in an increasingly divided country, and after so much grief and loss, as one of my main goals for my hypothetical tenure.
I am eternally grateful to my Editorial Board for helping me in this mission. Not only that, but as we rebuilt, you kept raising the bar for quality journalism in the tri-campus. We dealt with so much this year — a dorm’s disbandment, resignations (looking at you, BK), pandemic uncertainty, controversial opinions, and so much more.
And you and our staff did a fantastic job of keeping your head and standards high through it all. The photos, graphics, reviews, columns, stories you have shared have been nothing short of breathtaking and thought-provoking. Every day, I wake up excited to look at the content we have put out, and feel an incomparable sense of pride when I see people reading copies of The Observer, because I know they won’t be disappointed.
I have also been lucky to find my closest friends at the paper, including (but not limited to) my four managing editors: Evan, Nelisha, Colin and Issy. They have shouldered so much for me, especially as I took this job in the midst of struggling with mental illness, and they have held me up through some of the worst moments both on and off the clock.
When I named the four of you as my managing editors, my dad told me that a newspaper is a solidarity effort, the sum of wills and devotions to serve the institution, our community and history itself. Thank you for your dedication to inspiring truthful, ethical journalism and making this newspaper the welcoming and loving space that it is.
All of these people on staff that I am proud to call my friends work hard day in and day out to keep our tri-campus informed, to seek the truth and report it accurately. They are incomparably committed to it. And they juggle so much at the same time. If you see one of them, give them a hug. They deserve it, as well as all the love you can give them.
The memories, lessons, challenges and friendships I have found here are not going anywhere, and neither am I. I know I will spend the rest of my life indebted to all my fellow student journalists at The Observer for the work that they do and the passion they do it with. I am endlessly proud of you all for making this world better by just being in it.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.