Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
We, the graduating senior editors of the Gazette — Ramya Gopal, Jack Keefe, and Urooj Khan — are taking this opportunity in the last issue of the semester to bid our e-farewells to all the folks (both e- and real alike) who’ve contributed to making the Gazette community what it is, and, in turn, to reflect.
When I started working on the Daily Gazette as a wee reporter, it was an HTML based e-mail digest that needed to be compiled over a two hour period, involved Notebook files for each story, and used some marketing software to send out e-blasts. I believed my weather jokes were actually good. It is incredible how far we have come, and I’m proud to have been part of the ride. From my first story on a hypnotist who had a fellow ’10er make-out with a microphone, to my groundbreaking journalistic work on the opossum causing trouble outside of Dana (I guess I peaked freshman year), it has been a great experience.
My fellow editors and staff: y’all are awesome. Meetings in SCCS lounge have formed so many memories, all set to the soundtrack of World of Warcraft, as have meetings in Sharples Room 6 (the Danawell trailer completes the trifecta). Thank you for sharing the late-night weather joke inspirations, taking over my sending out nights, conducting tarot card readings, agreeing to do stories about mindnumbing physics lectures, and most of all, letting me have some fries. I’ll miss you deeply.
It has been incredibly gratifying to see the Gazette transform into a real community via our comment threads. I’m going to miss some of our most prolific commenters (even you, Andy Reid/Matt Stafford), but I’m excited to see how the DG will evolve in the coming years. The editor line-up we are leaving behind is perhaps the best Editorial Board Swarthmore has ever seen, since the reign of the ’09-’10 Editorial Board (Dad joke?). We leave them to navigate the complexities of “parent2: to delete, or not to delete?” and “moar cornz plz/less cornz plz.” If you get both these references, dear reader, I will miss you most of all.
As for myself, I will be working with Teach for America in D.C. next year. Please stay in touch.
Enjoy your summer, and thanks for all the fish,
Yo Gazette Readers,
It’s odd to think of the Gazette as, in the personal sense, “gone.” When I tremble at night thinking about the simultaneously glorious and terrifying dissolution of the structures of Swarthmore that awaits me on the 30th of May, “the Gazette” as whole entity is a large part of that ambivalent mix of liberation and anxiety. Yet, I prefer late-night article editing to late-night paper writing — at least you get to talk about developmental robotics with a fellow editor in the downtime of the former, whereas mixing analysis of sexual discourse with connectionist theories of cognition seems, in a word, problematic. (Said robots, bizarrely, will be helpful in one of my Honors examinations tomorrow. ”The Gazette,” like the Ineffable, works in mysterious ways!)
What do I lose by leaving the Gazette, by graduating? I lose my best-known method of trying to connect with my community. I lose the pride I feel working with both young and experienced writers in crafting their stories. I lose my weekly Editors and Staff meetings—which are the best sources of both scurrilous gossip and vital news I’ve ever encountered at Swarthmore (above and beyond the Pasta Bar line, I guess). I lose the immediateness of my connection to the campus community—in the sense that being an editor renders you a dilettante (at worst) and a polymath (at best), trying to follow and understand all the campus voices that your biases and time constraints will allow. I lose any obvious opportunities to be obliquely compared to Pol Pot. I lose my ability to commune with the Divine Beyond. I lose the venue in which to speculate publically about the origins of pretty, invasive beetle swarms. I, for a time at least, lose the chance to progress as writer and person through communion with my colleagues and community. Though, I sincerely hope, I will not lose all of the connections I’ve made along the way.
And, to be a bit flippant, I lose the comments — oh, the comments. To be a bit self-aggrandizing, it’s an interesting day when an Ask-the-Gazette about Picnic Bar at our little school garners at least half as many comments as the Harvard Crimson article about that kid who faked his way into Harvard and several felonies. I haven’t engaged in anything nearly as statistically rigorous as the Pasta Bar Survey, but I’d reckon that, per-capita, the Swarthmore commenting community — and the Gazette in particular — is one of the most active among our peer institutions. We love to talk, to bitch, to criticize, to muse, to voice. Despite their occasional inanity, they’re great; it’s impossible to have signal without noise.
I guess what I’m saying is: I think I’ll miss the Gazette.
The Gazette’s imperfect, I know all too well, but I think it’s an overall good for the campus. To hazard a clichÃ©: I believe it can only get better from here, especially if future editors and writers can continue to tap into new discourses and issues in articles and columns, and if our vibrant commenting community keeps its vitality. I’m rather happy to have been a small part of the evolution of the Gazette from daily e-mail blast to the online newspaper the individual reading these words (hopefully!) enjoys today.
Ramya, Urooj, and I leave the Gazette in the very capable hands of Dougal Sutherland ’11 (Editor-in-Chief), Angela Meng ’12 (co-News Editor), Nick Gettino ’13 (co-News Editor), Monika Zaleska ’13 (Features Editor), Cindy Lin ’13 (Arts Editor), Jon Emont ’12 (co-Opinions editor), and David Sterngold ’12 (co-Opinions Editor). I have total faith in them all. I hope that you’ll stick along with them and all the other awesome Gazetters for another year.
To the the Swarthmore Community:
Both of my senior co-editors have talked about the most visible quirks of the Gazette. But I’d like to reflect on the action that goes on behind the issues that we put out daily.
First, I want to appreciate the dedication that Swatties have given to the Gazette. If you’ve been paying attention to the bylines, you’ll notice that most stories are written by a handful of people. We don’t force stories on our staff – our reporters volunteer to take one, two or even sometimes three stories a week. No one is bound by traditional methods of story-telling. Most of our content is in the form of news stories, but we’ve also published videos, podcasts, audio slideshows, and, my favorite, Missed Connections. From the germ of an idea to the final issue, production is always the fruit of collaboration between people of all titles.
But over the years, the collaboration process has increasingly involved other students (in the peanut gallery over there) writing in the comments. You have been an invaluable source of insight both to the staff, about what we’re doing well and what we need to improve upon, and to the administration about how students feel about certain issues.
Our work together has made a mark on college journalism. After I joined the Gazette as News Editor in Spring 2008, this paper was named one of the best online newspapers in the country by the Associate Collegiate Press. This year, we were named one of the top newspapers of all small-schools, competing with more established organizations. I find it rewarding (and sometimes damning) to claim membership to a newspaper that’s so thoroughly engaged with the community. Picnic bar was an epic story.
Of course, the success is not simply born from students’ efforts; it is predicated on the administrators’ willingness to speak to (upstart) reporters. They’ve pulled out time from their busy schedules to meet with us on our deadlines; President Rebecca Chopp has granted the Gazette many interviews since she was chosen last year and I’ve personally met with every dean at least once via the Gazette. Administrators not only read the Gazette, but they also read the comments — they recognize that it’s where the pulse of the campus resounds most strongly.
I hope the Gazette community will only grow stronger. If our paper does fall short of your expectations, just remember that you can contribute. Not just by remarking on existing stories, but letting our editors know about issues that you think should be covered, asking inane questions about college, offering your opinions in a regular column or joining as an occasional reporter/writer.
I am proud of all our reporters and editors who will be at the helm of the Gazette next year. And I wish all of you good luck.