With our April issue being my 32nd and final issue of the rank&file, I have been reflecting on my staff’s accomplishments and the growth our content, design, communication and digital platforms underwent. The 56th volume of the newspaper has been my pride and joy this year, and I truly feel we have elevated our standards and refined our craft.
In terms of content, my focus has been streamlining the editing process by spending more time teaching AP style and grammar rules to have a clean, consistent product, while at the same time pushing students to develop innovative, original layouts and art concepts.
We also continued to build our social media platform and added a YouTube channel with multimedia content, which feels very fitting to the way students currently prefer to receive their news.
My other primary focus has actually been separate from the newspaper itself. I have learned over the last four years that the ultimate determinant of a great newspaper is whether or not the people making it feel heard, involved, valued and supported. No matter how tight our edits are or how beautiful our art is on the page, we need to be a team to flourish.
With that in mind, stronger staff communication and building trust has been my biggest goal, and I feel we have all worked hard this year to humanize one another and eliminate ego or hypocrisy from leadership. For student leaders in particular, it is an incredibly difficult task, therefore I see it as one of our crowning achievements. The success of our publication, at its core, has been a result of constant self and group reflection. This year I implemented ‘reflection days’ after every issue, which produced more self-aware leaders and minimized repetitive mistakes long term. I also feel the rank&file has faced a lot of just and unjust critique this year, as all publications do, and I believe it has strengthened our integrity by forcing students to own up to their errors while also giving them a chance to defend their journalistic rights.
A speaker at the journalism conference I attended my freshman year gave me advice that has stuck with me every day since. He said the testament of a good editor-in-chief is not the performance of their staff the year they lead it, but rather the year after. My job has definitely been to ensure strong staff morale and product quality, but more importantly it has been to leave everyone well-equipped with knowledge and hands-on experience to be able to run things without me.
I am proud of our growth this year but even more proud to know that this talented, dedicated staff I am leaving behind will continue to elevate the newspaper next year while always keeping the vision and heart of the rank&file intact.