All of this experience, I’m afraid, qualifies me for very little in the real world. (Or so I’m told; I hope the real world thinks otherwise.) This is not to say that I feel The Student is irrelevant or unimportant to the Amherst community. Rather, as I climbed up the masthead, I learned just how much attention people pay to the details of the newspaper.
Things crystallized for me when a friend pointed out that we had misidentified Sheryl Crow as a Canadian singer. I joked in our office that reading The Student is a lot like masturbation-everyone does it, but no one really admits to it-and I think that’s absolutely the truth.
Students, professors and administrators look to The Student as a mouthpiece for well, the students, and also as a major news source. Did we fulfill these functions over the past year?
I’d like to think so. We made mistakes, some more serious than misrepresenting Sheryl Crow’s birthplace (it is in fact Missouri, not even close to Canada; I think someone confused her with Alanis Morissette). I regret our failure to cover the indictment of a former student in a rape that allegedly occurred on-campus as a news article. I regret that our editorials were usually uncontroversial, and that we didn’t always tackle important issues head-on. I regret that the most important news didn’t always make the front page or get the lead spot if it didn’t contain a photograph.
I regret that I didn’t bring the “Living” back to “Arts and Living” as much as I had planned. I regret that we haven’t found a new advertiser to pay for Bub’s Player of the Week and that we continue to allow that bastion of New England barbeque to essentially advertise with us for free. (Not that that prevented me from reviewing the restaurant earlier this year.) I also regret that we never published an editorial on the weather at Amherst-why Zephaniah Swift Moore didn’t travel any farther South continues to mystify me.
However, I’m also proud of many of the articles we’ve published in the past year and the responses I’ve gotten personally from people ranging from students to professors to alumni. We ran a front-page news article about the legal proceedings in the aforementioned trial. We wrote an editorial about eating disorders at Amherst, a subject rarely addressed formally by most of the student body. We cut down on the number of lectures we cover. We weren’t afraid to publish controversial and inflammatory pieces in the Opinion section. We rarely were accused of misquoting people.
I take personal credit for none of these accomplishments; my very talented staff (who also remain my very good friends) were the force behind these changes (and I can also blame them for many of the mistakes � just kidding).
Most people don’t realize the amount of labor that goes into producing a newspaper every week. We receive no money from the AAS or the College; we are fully independent and are only as good as the ads and the subscriptions we sell.
Each article you see has been read by at least five sets of eyes. Each page has been painstakingly laid out-and probably rearranged three or four times-and then scrutinized by a number of people. If I revised my own papers (or even read them over) as carefully as I did every single article we printed over the past year, I’d be a straight-A student. At any rate, I think the entire staff will agree that there is a direct correlation to time spent in the office and GPA; as the former rises, the latter sinks.
And despite the hours of work and the careful editing, we made mistakes. But we admitted to them, in print and in person, and we didn’t make excuses.
I have no illusions about my year as editor-in-chief; I didn’t reinvent, I didn’t redesign-and I didn’t leak the names of any CIA agents, either. Thank you all for reading, and to the new staff, I wish you all the best.
Rothbard can be reached at [email protected]