By Rob Duffy
My first week as sports editor, sophomore year, I remember having to email a writer late Wednesday night to ask why on earth his article wasn’t in yet. His response (paraphrased): “Oh—when you gave me that assignment, you meant it was for this week?” The article wasn’t ever coming in, I realized, and we would be stuck with a blank half-page if I didn’t get to work. So I did: that week I ended up authoring four and a half of the nine articles in the sports section. The whole process was exhausting, but I was exhilarated to be able to leave my mark on the paper.
Over the next two years, the crises never went away. There were the recurring newsroom floods, the constant fights to get the newsroom printer and internet to work, the time when we realized on Thursday afternoon that we had accidentally entirely deleted an article and it needed to be rewritten. Sports usually turned out fine—at The Bucknellian, we love sports and don’t care who knows—but the rest of the paper was often an adventure, one that I got increasingly involved in as I progressed to managing editor and then editor-in-chief. There were also the long-term issues, like the nagging question of how to keep an all-volunteer staff motivated and the infamous hole in the ceiling. My friends from outside the paper thought I was nuts to put up with it all.
They were probably right, but I still maintain that it was a good sort of “nuts.” As far as I’m concerned, my whole newspaper experience was completely worth it, and I don’t regret any choices I made along the way. The process of putting a newspaper together was grueling at times, but the setbacks made it all the more triumphant when things finally did come together. The last issue of my run as EIC, when we both ratcheted up the quality and packed 11 articles onto the front page, is something I’ll always be proud of.
But what really makes being part of the newspaper staff worthwhile is the connections you make with your fellow staff along the way. The newspaper introduced me to some of the most friendly, talented and driven people I know and gave me the opportunity to develop friendships I’ll never forget. The newsroom camaraderie was always the best thing about being involved with the paper, and for every memorable crisis there was a memorable positive experience as well: the time we watched Pulp Fiction, the Sheetz runs, the New York City trip, our absurd postings to the newsroom walls, the list goes on. I wish a heartfelt thanks to all the great people who were part of these experiences.
I’ve also gotten to witness the revitalization of the paper’s staff. Two years ago, as our numbers were dwindling, we were utterly convinced that the paper would be dead in two years. It obviously isn’t, and I’m excited about the newfound possibility of emphasizing quality and not just quantity, now that the paper finally has enough people. I have confidence in the ability of a dedicated staff to not just report on things that are easy to cover, but to investigate and shed light upon the big issues that affect campus; to address controversial but important topics like sex, drugs
, and role of the Greek system on campus in a thoughtful, dignified manner; to write stories that grab readers, not just stories that fill pages; and to package everything together with memorable and eye-catching layouts. Some of those things the paper is already doing well; others can still use a bit of work. What’s important is that the newspaper’s potential is the greatest it’s been in years.
Meeting this potential is never easy, but if my experience with the paper has taught me anything, it’s that the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. I wish future staffs good luck in creating experiences and newspapers they can be similarly proud of.