Tuesday, August 20

Making a difference isn't supposed to be easy


To paraphrase a previous news editor, it really is about
people.

That phrase was on the wall of the News section, and after four
years in this place, I think there is more truth to it than its
author intended.

He meant that reporting the news is affecting your readers,
reaching people with your stories, and telling their own stories in
our pages, all of which are true.

I’m proud of the stories we’ve done over the past
four years. That end product was our most important accomplishment,
and that’s what kept me going during the really long
days.

But I’m sure my most vivid memories of the Daily Bruin
won’t be of interviewing powerful people, editing stories or
talking to the characters who called my phone ranting about organic
rutabagas, evil conservatives, evil liberals, cars of the future,
monkey experiments or The Man. (I guess you’re asking for it
when you put your phone number on the front page of the
newspaper.)

Those things have their place in my Bruin experience, but
I’ll remember above all the people who make and have made
this newspaper what it is. That goes from the highest editors to
the newest interns.

I’m thinking of sitting late at night in a cramped office
talking about how we’re going to solve the world’s
problems.

Or of seeing the smile on a writer’s face after knowing
they’ve poured themselves into a story. Or taking a deep
breath after making a colossal mistake, looking at the person next
to you, and saying, “All right. How do we do it better next
time?”

In a lot of ways, you as a “person” are curbed when
you work in News. You aren’t supposed to have overt
opinions.

You’re expected to keep a straight face even if, when
you’re hearing out somebody’s idea for the story of the
century, you’re thinking, “This guy is bananas.”
(Yes, I’ve talked to a few of these folks.)

In a lot of other ways, you find more of yourself than you ever
did before. You learn what things are most important to you. You
learn what kind of a leader you are.

You learn what every food item at Panda Express, Rubio’s
Baja Grill and La Cucina by Sbarro tastes like. I think I’ll
die if I ever eat on Ackerman’s first floor again.

And of course, you learn from the people you work with. Before I
took this job, committing myself to a senior year full of all the
aforementioned goodies, I had a memorable conversation with another
staffer.

I said I wasn’t sure I wanted to be News editor, that it
seemed like a lot of work, and that it would be easy for me to walk
away.

I’d be able to go to the beach, read for my classes
(sounded good at the time) or just relax.

“Yeah, that’s true,” the staffer said. It
would be easy to walk away. Reporting the news is challenging.

Staying around to be a leader and shape new leaders is hard. But
this isn’t supposed to be easy.

Isn’t that why we’re in these social-life-killing,
slave-wage-paying jobs in the first place? Isn’t making a
difference the reason any of us are here?

Yeah, I guess it is.

Bishop was the 2005-2006 News editor.

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