Words of advice from a longtime newsman
June 12, 2005 9:00 p.m.
I’ve written over 200 articles and editorials for the
Daily Bruin, but when I sat down to write this column, I was
stumped. How could I possibly sum up four years of working for The
Bruin in less than 800 words?
Working for the Daily Bruin has defined my time here at UCLA
more than any other experience. Because of The Bruin, I’ve
met some of my best friends, re-evaluated my values, learned to
speak my mind ““ and I’ve bombed at least a few
Because of The Bruin, I know UCLA inside and out ““
including some of its darkest secrets and its most subtle
successes. During the course of my work, I’ve met and
interviewed everyone from members of the Undergraduate Students
Association Council to foreign ministers and world-renowned
But as I began to write this farewell column, I questioned
myself: What is the real value of all of these experiences? How
will they help me as I prepare to graduate and leave the so-called
bubble that is UCLA?
The truth is, I’m not exactly sure. More than anything,
The Bruin taught me to be critical of the world around me. Never
simply accept a person’s statement as fact. I’ve
learned one of the cardinal rules of journalism: “Trust but
verify.” I think this rule is applicable to many situations
and jobs outside the world of journalism.
But I haven’t left this bubble yet, so I can’t
honestly say if my time at The Bruin has been worth it ““ or
if I will someday regret spending so much of my time locked in the
depths of 118 Kerckhoff.
Still, there are a few ideas and thoughts I’ve collected
during my journey as a Bruin editor, and I want to use the rest of
my space to share them with you.
You might feel these following paragraphs sound a little
presumptuous, but please understand where I am coming from. For
four years I have tried to be a neutral observer of the campus
““ a fair and balanced reporter ““ and I don’t mean
“fair and balanced” the way Fox News means it.
So now I will present you with the self-indulgent ramblings of a
jaded Daily Bruin editor:
“¢bull; Anyone who wants to be an effective manager should
understand the difference between visions, goals and plans. By my
definition, a vision is an idealized model of how something should
be. For example, editors at The Bruin might have a vision of The
Bruin as the best daily college paper in the nation. A goal is a
more specific objective: The Bruin will have at least three
investigative stories per week. Finally, a plan is a clearly
defined way of achieving a goal: Three writers will each be
assigned investigative stories and must have rough drafts by
Tuesday. I think it takes all three ““ visions, goals and
plans ““ to really be a good leader.
“¢bull; Student leaders, and members of USAC in particular,
should learn how to deal with the press effectively. Students who
put themselves on the public stage shouldn’t assume the Daily
Bruin is out to get them. Most of the time, Bruin reporters have no
ulterior motive when they ask simple questions ““ and an
honest answer is the best way to go. In the rare instance of what
some might call a “hostile” investigation, I think it
is still a good idea to be cooperative. The press is very good at
finding the information it wants to find, and it can be merciful to
those who admit their mistakes. And for those USAC officials who
get offended when The Bruin questions them, my advice is to develop
a thicker skin if you want to stick with politics.
“¢bull; Students must hold UCLA’s administrators and
faculty accountable for their actions. When major projects like the
Westwood Replacement Hospital are a year behind schedule and
millions of dollars over budget, students should be concerned, and
they shouldn’t ignore the problem just because it’s
complicated. When only a couple hundred professors vote on the
diversity requirement, and reject it, students should educate
themselves and confront the professors, demanding these educators
explain their actions.
Well, enough of that. Whatever you do ““ and however you do
it ““ find something you like, and devote yourself to it.
Through all the ups and all the downs, I loved working at The
Bruin. The camaraderie, the passion, the adventures ““ for
that, I will always be grateful.
Derek Lazzaro was the 2002-2003 online director, the
2003-2004 Viewpoint editor, and the 2004-2005 Editorial Development
director. He has served on the Editorial Board since 2002.