“It’s THE day,” read the e-mail from Debbie Pearsall, who used to be the managing editor of The Brown and White and who’s now the editor in chief for the spring semester. From now on, I will no longer receive dozens of press releases, requests from alumni to have their names deleted from previous articles (in case their name is googled–pff), comments and concerns from faculty and staff, and so on. I’ve officially abdicated the throne. This is my cue to panic.
I won’t, but I will review the semester, in semi-detail, about what I could have done better. However, I just want to say these past four months were fantastic. I never dreamed I’d be part of a university newspaper, let alone serve as editor in chief. I was one the business track until I was a miserable little girl. And then the clouds opened and a thunderous voice said, Liz, thou shalt study the bravest calling of all: journalism. It would have been newsworthy had it happened that way, but the mid-semester crisis occurred at night after a four-hour accounting homework . Or was that business statistics? Whatever it was, I hated it enough to switch back to the College of Arts and Sciences pronto.
And voila, I was welcomed into the J-department and introduced to a set of brilliant young minds, from students to professors who for some unknown reason thought I was competent enough to run things. Well, I do consider myself a first-rate sppeller.
But like I said, there were things I could have done better. Let’s start with those errors that were brought to my attention by several user comments, such as factual mistakes on the cutlines of several front page photos. No, Africa is not a country and Greek organizations should be identified correctly. This is where I shake my head and utter self-deprecating phrases. A lot of these things are not hard to look up or double-check, so I won’t even attempt to make up an excuse for them.
Then there was an issue with one story that wasn’t assigned by one of our editors. It was work for a reporting class, but it was relevant and the writer was part of the paper, so why not? Don’t want to single that person out, so I won’t name them, but basically the problem was that one of the sources in the article said something about someone else. That something was questionable, and therefore should have prompted the reporter to get a statement from the subject in question, yet the article, when published, was only a first draft (I was not aware. Yet, I should have asked).
That’s when an Lehigh VIP contacted me, asked me to have a chat about an article (didn’t mention which one). The person was disappointed by that story and told me it had caused quite a stir in some local governmental department, enough to get the city council involved..or something like that. (At this point, I was completely unaware of how the reporter obtained her sources and whether the writer had told her sources that the story would be published, so of course I was in panic mode). I called Debbie, told her everything and she called the writer, whom she knew well.
At this point, I was covered in tears (I forgot to mention that this Lehigh VIP had suggested I call the VIP of this govt. dept. and I did, so obediently, and this other VIP basically questioned my abilities as an eic.) Debbie called back, and before I knew it, we were arguing about what should have been done, etc. etc. In the end, Debbie was right, and like one of my professors said, I had been bullied by this Lehigh VIP into thinking we had done something wrong. So Debbie, I apologize.
I’m sure there are other things that I could have done better, but these are the ones that stand out the most. Other than that, I hope I was able to meet my staff’s expectations. If it weren’t for them, press nights would not have been that much fun, and now, memorable.