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The Bruin’s chaos, opportunities helped me find purpose in my time at UCLA -30-

(Ashley Kenney/Photo editor)

By Melissa Morris

June 6, 2021 5:08 p.m.

“No normal person would stay at the Daily Bruin,” I say without thinking.

My friend laughs nervously. “Aren’t you the editor in chief?”

Right! I said what I said.

It’s been four years since I joined the Daily Bruin on a whim. In the time since, I’ve been a witness to campuswide crises, many tears and an inhuman amount of stress. This year alone, we covered a pandemic, natural disasters, political upheaval, the first all-remote year at UCLA and everything in between – all without setting foot in our beloved biohazard, Kerckhoff 118.

I am so tired, but not once in four years did I seriously consider quitting – though perhaps a normal person would have.

Working at the Daily Bruin imbued my UCLA experience with a sense of purpose. For both better and worse, I have had the privilege of going past the surface and stepping into the surreal.

The dissonance of landing a two-second cameo in Michelle Obama’s Netflix documentary one day and holding a source’s hand as they told their story through tears the next is still hard to wrap my head around. The faith the UCLA community put in me as a well-intentioned but imperfect messenger is almost unbelievable even now. I hope I made you all proud.

With both the pandemic and my new role, this year in particular elevated the spectacular weirdness of my time with the Daily Bruin to the next level. My one hope for my tenure is that we were able to open up a bit as an institution, both to those seeking to get involved and to anyone curious about what goes on at the paper behind the scenes.

For too long, the Daily Bruin has been slow to check itself – our uneven coverage, our staff retention, our preconceptions. The Bruin is still far from perfect, but I believe we’re in a genuinely different place than we were a year ago.

And I want it on the record: Editor in chief might sound like a fancy title, but anyone could learn to do this job. I hope that, little by little, our work on accessibility this year brought us closer to a reality where everyone has the full, unimpeded opportunity to reach the fanciest places. Regardless, I can tell you for certain I gave those baby steps toward change my absolute best effort.

This year wasn’t “perfect” by any metric, but that was never really the goal. Keeping the paper running during a pandemic was a feat in itself as far as I’m concerned. But even so, I was consistently amazed by the above-and-beyond thoughtfulness this team put into projects forged in the midst of chaos. I’m so excited to see what you’ll all do next.

I’m also lucky to have shared this journey. To my friends, family, mentors, fellow editors, Lizard Upper and a very short roommate/best friend, you know who you are. I love you all very much.

Thank you for teaching me to be a better journalist, leader and friend. Thank you for trusting me to do this job. Abnormal, wonderful people, I hope you take and own the credit you deserve for – no exaggeration – holding an entire newspaper together during one of the toughest years in a generation.

Normal is overrated anyway. I’m grateful to have had a brush with something extraordinary.

Morris was a News contributor 2017-2018, campus politics editor 2018-2019, editorial board member 2018-2021, assistant Enterprise editor 2019-2020 and editor in chief 2020-2021.

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Melissa Morris | Alumna
Morris was previously the 2020-2021 Editor in chief. She was also the 2019-2020 assistant Enterprise editor as well as the 2018-2019 assistant News editor for the campus politics beat.
Morris was previously the 2020-2021 Editor in chief. She was also the 2019-2020 assistant Enterprise editor as well as the 2018-2019 assistant News editor for the campus politics beat.
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