Senior Column: Bridget McCartin

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I am not a journalist.

I know what you’re thinking. I’m the Editor-in-Chief of Print for The Campus. I’ve been on this staff for almost my entire college career. I’m an editor, certainly. But a journalist? I’m not so sure. Let me explain.

I’ve been thinking about what I would write in my senior column since freshman year, convinced that when the time came, I would know exactly what to say. I would give all kinds of well-crafted life advice to the aspiring journalists of Allegheny, using fancy journalism jargon and impressing everyone with my vast knowledge of the newspaper world.

Unsurprisingly, I have learned that this position, being an editor, is not about flashy sentences and taking on the big stories. I’ve learned that gaining knowledge doesn’t happen overnight. Most importantly, I’ve learned that change, truly important change, takes time. More specifically, it takes people. Let me tell you a story.

When I first joined The Campus staff, it was October 2008. The paper was smaller and meeker, and the editorial board was essentially brand new. We had old computers, even older software, and took pictures of pretty trees when it was a slow news week. We had an advisor who brought us pizza once a semester and otherwise completely ignored us. I was a starry-eyed and utterly clueless freshman with hopes of changing the world. And I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.

Then, sophomore year came. Through the efforts of all the editors who graduated in 2006, I watched the newspaper take on a new vigor. We changed our layout. We raised our standards. We pushed ourselves to be better with very little guidance. We worked hard, but we had a blast. Going into my junior year, our staff was ready to keep building on what the seniors had established. I was excited, gaining confidence and ready to carry on the legacy the seniors left behind.

My junior year, we again found ourselves with a fairly young staff and a newfound work ethic. Enter one of the most influential and important people to grace Allegheny’s journalism program in recent years, and I’m not exaggerating. When our staff heard we were getting a new advisor, we were ecstatic. We were also in for a huge wakeup call.

I’ll never forget our first meeting. We sat in our office in shock as our advisor addressed every single problem with the paper. Our content, our layout, our reporting… every single flaw was laid out in front of us. I went home in tears. How could this newspaper that had come so far and braved so much still need so much work? As the semester went on, however, we also watched our writing get stronger. Our layout skills improved. I watched my fellow editors cover delicate stories with the highest professionalism. I learned that having an advisor who cares about you so much, but isn’t afraid to tell you that you’re wrong, made us a better newspaper than ever before.

This year, I have watched my staff take on challenge after challenge with finesse. I watched our editors write hard-hitting stories on scholarships and drug use. Our designers put together more vibrant and exciting graphics than ever before. We created theme issues and printed pictures of giant puppies and took no prisoners. I watched with pride as the staff covered the entire police pursuit of last week’s gunman incident. I have watched a group of talented junior editors and staff writers grow into full-fledged editors, and I could not be more proud.

I will say it again: I am not a journalist. I do not think of myself as an interrogator or a sleuth. I would never be daring enough to follow the cops in my car for an entire day as they pursued a wanted criminal and tweet about it. However, in my four years here, I have seen the editors who have come before me and after me dedicate their entire heart and soul to this newspaper, to journalism, and to the pursuit of truth. I am so proud to have been a part of this publication.

I am not sure what sort of legacy I will leave behind at this paper, but I know exactly what sort of people will be here as The Campus enters its 137th year. They are diligent, and honest, and very frequently cynical people that have the heart and drive to make this paper incredible. They are inquisitive, and smart, and it has been an absolute honor being in their presence for the countless hours I’ve spent in the newsroom this year.

My story is over. Next year will mark another era for this newspaper. There will be a new advisor, a new Editor-in-Chief and, obviously, new news. But when I think about all the progress this paper has made, all of the people who have made it what it is, I know things will only keep getting better. The staff that will be here next year is going to be fantastic. I cannot wait to see what their story will be.