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Authenticity of Daily Bruin staffers still shines throughout newsroom -30-

Kanishka Mehra stands for a portrait. (Megan Cai/Assistant Photo editor)

By Kanishka Mehra

June 4, 2022 7:50 p.m.

“You’ve changed,” I said, my words echoing in the newly remodeled Daily Bruin office and sticking to the fresh blue paint.

After 15 months of remote editorship, just standing in Kerckhoff Hall 118 felt like a fever dream and even more so with the fancy new decor. The truly unsettling part, however, was the absence of my fellow editors and staffers, many of whom had already settled into life after college.

Without the cheerful chorus of Slack notifications, coffee-stained stacks of old PRIME magazines and half-erased birthdays on the whiteboard to orient me, my eyes scanned the room for any reminder of what we had left behind in March 2020.

Little remained, save for a bag of hangers I had tossed into the Photo cabinet on my way home that spring. Gone were the string lights and Design candy that used to eat up half of our stipends, but they would soon be replaced by a new generation of student journalists who would tweak old traditions and make new ones that were just as meaningful.

When I joined the Daily Bruin, my respect grew immensely for the editors and staffers who went above and beyond to make the office feel like a safe space for others. I was fortunate to grow as both a student and a journalist around others who modeled authenticity and valued their peers for their contributions, no matter how big or small.

As student journalists, it was especially important for us to use our platform to reflect the sentiments of the UCLA community as accurately as possible. Authenticity is what my peers and I strived for in our work, relying on one another to hold us accountable and tell stories with integrity. When mistakes were made, the newsroom norm was to acknowledge and improve upon them together.

That is the beauty of working collaboratively at a place like The Bruin, and no pandemic or remodeled office could ever take that away.

Authenticity is also something most people naturally gravitate toward because it demonstrates a willingness to be vulnerable and create safe spaces for others. When sources fall through and a story gets tough, the ability to rely on others can make a world of difference.

Before the pandemic wreaked havoc and before UCLA Student Media administrators discovered how to grow plants in a windowless room, it was within these very walls that I truly started to love my authentic self. But I couldn’t have accomplished that alone.

Thank you to my Photo editors, Amy, Axel, MacKenzie and Liz, who saw my VSCO-filtered photography portfolio and took a chance on me anyway. I appreciate you all for helping me refine my photo editing style to be more natural and for encouraging me to take assignments that removed me from my comfort zone yet put me in a place where I could see room for growth.

To my fellow assistant Photo editors, Tanmay and Niveda, thank you for being my support system when I needed it most and my spine when I didn’t have one. Liz, you really knew what you were doing when you hired us as your assistants. #Lizardlounge forever.

To my #squirrelbabies, Daanish, Lauren and Ashley, I know our year together was disappointingly remote, but I could not have asked for a more robust and adaptable team of assistant editors to engage our photographers. Our Zoom check-ins were the highlight of every single week, and I will forever cherish the memories we made as bright-eyed underclassmen.

To my Quad editors, Andrew, Molly and Olivia, thank you for never saying no to pitches that were really just elaborate shower thoughts. Your encouragement meant the world to me.

And to Anushka, Sam, Kristie, Jacqueline and everyone else who contributed to heated pop-culture debates at the Design-Sports-Photo-Arts table, I am so lucky to have crossed paths with you.

To put it all into perspective, I promise to remember both the good and the bad when I reflect upon my tenure at the Daily Bruin in the years to come. Change is intermediary, not conclusive.

Thank you, Daily Bruin. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then I think I’ve said enough.

Mehra was a Photo contributor 2018-2019, assistant Photo editor 2019-2020, Quad contributor 2019-2021, Photo editor 2020-2021 and Photo senior staff 2021-2022.

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Kanishka Mehra | Senior Staff
Mehra is a senior staffer and was previously the 2020-21 Photo Editor for the Daily Bruin. Before that, she was an Assistant Photo editor on the Arts & Entertainment beat. She is pursuing a B.A. in psychology with minors in anthropology & labor and workplace studies, and she also contributes to News, Arts and The Quad.
Mehra is a senior staffer and was previously the 2020-21 Photo Editor for the Daily Bruin. Before that, she was an Assistant Photo editor on the Arts & Entertainment beat. She is pursuing a B.A. in psychology with minors in anthropology & labor and workplace studies, and she also contributes to News, Arts and The Quad.
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