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The Copy section cultivated community, reminded me to focus on the details -30-

(Ashley Kenney/Photo editor)

By Rayna Salam

June 6, 2021 4:56 p.m.

Hummus! Hummus! Hummus!

There goes my Slack when I’m on a breaking news copy editing shift. Hummus, though a strange notification choice, is the loudest one on Slack, and it jolts my body into an automatic stress response. I drop everything to check breaking channels, open a Google Docs and WordPress account, and start to mutter things I delete under my breath: extraneous thats, Oxford commas, an incorrect name or title.

It’s strange, but to some small degree, I feel like I’m saving the world.

I’ve been a copy editor at the Daily Bruin for four years. After countless USAC recaps, breaking sports wraps, movie reviews and editorials (some of which I even helped write!), I can say I know UCLA like the back of my hand. Reading a newspaper front to back twice a week is the best way to get to know a school, especially one as big as UCLA, and I have the Daily Bruin to thank for making college feel less lonely.

Freshman year, I won the Amy Baumgartner “Is grad issue a paper or a book?” award for most eager to learn. I was enchanted by the overwhelming, frenetic pace of the office and the particular pedantic humor of Copy. It’s become a huge part of who I am, not by virtue of hours on Slack and Camayak, but because I feel essential and important doing this job.

The Copy desk was my safe haven. Two nights a week, I’d push aside stained napkins and old annotated newspapers, vestiges of nights eating takeout and arguing over comma usage, to arrange space for a seven-hour shift of reading and editing other people’s stories. It never seemed tedious or monotonous because I knew there’d be constant distractions – an elaborate Slack hack, an impossible-to-find CQ, snack trips to Ackerman Union. And lastly, a maddening 2 a.m. walk back home from Kerckhoff Hall, laughing with friends at the jokes we’d never have made unless we were that sleep- or oxygen-deprived.

The past year and a half has been hard. The Daily Bruin brings together a group of hardworking people with the pace of daily production and being that hustle-based can feel exhausting, joyless and hard, especially when everything is online. Copy editors pay attention to the details. Without the texture of real life, like the smell of the moldy office post-water purifier leak, sugary design candy or on-shift antics, doing the work I loved became stressful and isolating.

But for anyone reading this, this is my impassioned plea to train in Copy or become a copy editor, even for a little bit. It will benefit you, I promise. Going remote taught me the joy of the job is in the people you meet – and the people you meet will be strange, diligent, hilarious and wall-quote-worthy.

To all my fellow slots and copy chiefs who picked up my slack – Anush Arvind, Saskia Lane, Maris Tasaka, Zoe Willoughby, Sara Hubbard, Maggie Tully, Grace Ye, Anita Narkhede – you are the best of them, and we made most valuable section 2019-2020 possible. Sophia Amir, thanks for sticking it out with me from day one and conspiring to make the shifts go faster. The extra banter was precious and I miss it so much. Thanks to all the wonderful, patient writers and editors who’ve entertained my questions and explained baseball to me over and over again.

The best part of working at a college paper is that you’re making something with your best friends. I am beyond grateful I had Daily Bruin. And every time I hear the word hummus, I’ll remember that.

Salam was a Copy contributor 2017-2018, News contributor, editorial board member and Copy staff 2018-2019, slot editor 2019-2020 and Copy senior staff 2020-2021.

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Rayna Salam | Alumna
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