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.
By online media’s standard metrics of success—pageviews and engagement—this was our best semester ever. The truth is more complicated.
That this semester was going to be different was evident from week one of classes, when a swastika appeared in McCabe. What also became evident was that this semester was going to be different for The Daily Gazette, when Will Meyer’s eloquent response to the graffiti became our most-read article ever, at over 250,000 views. Even The Philadelphia Inquirer took notice and called us.
But we soon tasted the dark side of virality. We published an op-ed about financial aid that drew a ferocious, if justified campus backlash. Our hastily-written apology, according to The Swarthmore Review, only made matters worse. Once again, we made the national press, but this time it was of the Breitbart variety.
But these headlines don’t tell the full story.
We recruited a large and vibrant set of writers and editors into the DG family, and they produced some of the best articles we’ve seen in our time at the paper. Let’s highlight some, but not all of them: Navid, our preeminent (and, honestly, only) regular opinions columnist, tackled deer culling (illustration by the excellent Erin Ford) with moral integrity, Jissel Becerra delivered a Willets weed story that absurdly made international headlines, Sid Srivatsan looked into Philadelphia’s gentrification, September Porras Payea delved into professorial origin stories, and Grace Zhang had an intimate, revealing conversation with Donna Jo Napoli. Many of these writers, and some we haven’t mentioned, introduced themselves in our yearly first-year issue that you can look at here.
Another breakout star was David Molina Cavazos, the endlessly creative and hard-working videoperson who labored behind the scenes for much of the semester, but eventually gave in to the temptation to write, and did it fabulously.
Oh, right, the election. We went into it perhaps too lightly, staging a mock debate that, while successful, looks quaint in retrospect. The election also led to some great reporting and writing, like a collage of dispatches from election night that we released into a still-shellshocked Swarthmore the next morning.
Even outside the election and its aftermath, the semester induced us to reflect on our mission and way of doing things. The financial aid op-ed and the way we handled it showed that we need a coherent, publicly advertised policy on opinion pieces, which we still don’t have. Our coverage was sometimes uneven, though we never crossed too far into the extremes of utter dullness or total sensationalism. Our dream of cooperation and friendship with The Phoenix remains a fantasy that we haven’t really tried to realize. But we know it’s possible.
But let’s allow for some closing self-congratulation: we are happy. The semester has gone well, and the new crop of editors we have coming in for the spring looks promising and energetic.
Finally, we remain an open activity: If you are driven to write, to question, to express and create for the public good, we invite you to join our journalistic adventure. And this invitation is valid forever.
Brandon Torres, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Eduard Saakashvili, Co-Editor-in-Chief