At The Bruin, I feel proud to carry out the greater mission of journalism -30-
Zinnia Finn stands for a portrait. (Joseph Jimenez/Photo editor)
By Zinnia Finn
June 11, 2023 10:03 p.m.
In 2008, it was raining typewriters.
I found three on my street tucked behind mailboxes and lampposts, the most recent crop of San Francisco’s urban harvest. One of them was eggshell blue. I was overjoyed.
I was going to be a journalist.
Looking back, it would be incomplete to talk about my time at the Daily Bruin without mentioning the Daily Times, a self-created and uncirculated paper that was the source of my first bylines. We covered only the most pertinent stories – the looming threat of global warming, the merit of healthy school lunches and my dad’s business trips to Texas. Even though we had a readership hovering around four, the power that came with documenting moments, arguing ideas and crafting stories felt tangible and right.
And it was something I likely would have never revisited if not for the Daily Bruin.
I applied to The Bruin during my freshman year for two reasons, both unrelated to the greater mission of journalism. The first was because my roommate applied to Photo, and the second was because I might get to cover a secret society a la Rory Gilmore. I was accepted as part of PRIME’s first intern class, and although I have yet to jump off a seven-story scaffolding clutching an umbrella, this organization has provided me with so many lessons, memories and friends.
After writing for PRIME my freshman year, I cross-trained in a multitude of other sections, one of which was Arts. I latched on to the consistency of a daily content section and battled feelings of pandemic-induced aimlessness by picking up stories throughout the summer and later writing a weekly column that fall. The following year, I became the Lifestyle editor of the Arts section and attempted to carve out a niche within a traditionally undefined beat. This year, I held the position of Enterprise team lead and worked to rebuild The Bruin’s investigative beat – a facet of journalism I feel is essential to every news outlet but perhaps especially so to college newspapers.
Each of these positions carried its own set of challenges, and those closest to me know that these challenges occasionally felt insurmountable. If there was a record of tears shed within the windowless walls of Kerckhoff 118, my name would be on it. Tallying up the hours I’ve given to this organization has the potential to elicit horror.
Despite this, every moment of hardship and doubt has been paralleled by moments of joy and purpose. I’ve loved mentoring writers through my leadership positions, and I hope I can continue to be there for them even past graduation. I’ve been trusted with heartbreaking and intimate details of sources’ personal stories and have been privileged enough to craft articles with the potential to elicit institutional change. I attended Los Angeles Fashion Week and created a beautiful print spread and flatpage for Fashion and Student Trends at UCLA.
But most importantly, my four years as a journalist have rekindled what I felt so many years ago. I truly believe there is something innate about humankind that craves the documentation and connection that the news so seamlessly creates. We need to keep telling true and balanced stories, and I am grateful I spent four years as an element of this greater mission. And, of course, I am grateful for everyone I met along the way.
To Teddy Rosenbluth and Anushka Jain, thank you for welcoming me into the paper. Both of you are truly outstanding individuals and will forever be my role models. To Justin Huwe and Dylan Tzung, thank you for tirelessly working alongside me on a gamble that blossomed into a thriving section. To Vivian Xu, Isabella Durgin and Janice Yun, you stood by me through my most difficult chapter at this newspaper and offered support and kindness in more ways than I can list. I am immensely proud of our work for Arts and will be forever glad you three were the ones I did that work alongside. And to Cecile Wu, thank you for being there for me in the context of this paper and beyond.
I’m lucky to call all of you and so many other people at this paper peers and friends. And every time I walk into Kerckhoff 118, I am honored to be surrounded by individuals who create media that fits within the greater tapestry of the fact-based and compassionate journalism we need in the world today.
So to all the journalists reading this, keep writing. Trust your gut and stay true to yourself. Sometimes, we are college students covering our peers’ passion projects or Pulitzer-winning investigators tirelessly pursuing leads. Sometimes, we are individuals submitting insightful op-eds on topics we are deeply passionate about.
And sometimes, we are 7-year-olds who find an absurd number of typewriters on the street.
Finn was a PRIME contributor 2019-2021, Arts reporter 2020-2021, lifestyle editor 2021-2022, Arts senior staff 2022-2023 and Enterprise team lead 2022-2023.