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Bruins in Paris

Reflecting fondly on the chaos of my editorship at the Daily Bruin -30-

Ramona Mukherji stands for a portrait. (Joseph Jimenez/Photo editor)

By Ramona Mukherji

June 11, 2023 10:13 p.m.

I’ve copy edited more than 500 articles for the Daily Bruin.

That rather daunting number includes dozens of -30- columns over the past two years, so I feel like I’m qualified to distill them into a simple formula.

Start off with a funny but sweet anecdote. Say you’d never have expected to be part of the Daily Bruin, and you couldn’t believe you were chosen. Talk about making the best memories ever but acknowledge that The Bruin has its failings. End with a long and loving thank you to all the friends you made here.

To be clear, I respect the formula. It’s hard summing up years of memories into a short column, and I have read many that made me cry and laugh – sometimes simultaneously. But in my own -30- column, I want to explore something different.

Daily Bruin staffers will recognize me as someone who deals with a lot of chaotic editing experiences. Here’s my ode to the weirdest times and places I have worked for The Bruin:

There was the time I did my training sessions in the middle of the night, from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. I joined as a Copy intern in winter 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, while I was home in India and nearly 8,000 miles from a campus I had only gotten to experience for two quarters. I was desperate to prove myself and wasn’t about to let the 13 1/2-hour time difference stop me. Little did I know that it would be the first of many late nights with the paper.

Fast forward to spring 2021, to the time I was gearing up for the slot editor position. I was locked in my De Neve Birch dorm room, quarantined after moving back to Los Angeles. I sat through a five-hour editor-in-chief hearing during a power outage across the Hill. I sat there in the dark, stuck into my room, watching the battery dwindle into the red as the Zoom meeting dragged on. Little did I know that it would be the first of many power outages I faced with The Bruin.

In the middle of my tenure as a slot editor, winter 2022 saw me editing a breaking News story about a Westwood-wide power outage. As the power went out in my apartment at 1 a.m., I immediately checked Slack and realized a story was coming. So I set up a string of Christmas lights, lit all the candles in my living room and edited the story. That moment solidified that there wasn’t much I wouldn’t do for the Daily Bruin.

And lastly, there were many a late night spent in the windowless Daily Bruin office, making sure the paper went out the next morning. As the assistant Copy chief, I seemed to have been afflicted with the curse of the late-night print shift, as I regularly found myself in the office at 2 or 3 a.m. Sometimes our printing office wouldn’t pick up the phone. Sometimes the computers would give out. Sometimes stories took hours to fact-check. But I don’t think any other work experience I’ve had could teach me to problem-solve during a crisis the way The Bruin did.

Most people would read this list and be horrified. But as stressful as some of these experiences were, I wouldn’t change any part of it. Perhaps returning to the -30- column formula will explain why I subjected myself to these moments these 2 1/2 years.

Copy editing is an invisible job. My name is never on the byline. Most people don’t even know what it entails – neither did I until I started as an intern. I came into my first shift armed with the Associated Press Stylebook subscription, ready to forgo the Oxford comma, change dates to days of the week and acquire hyperspecific knowledge of which words are hyphenated. However, being in Copy has taught me a lot more.

Sure, I edited for grammar and AP style, but I’d like to think I helped ensure we represented the diverse and vibrant campus life to the best of our abilities. The words we choose have a very real impact on our readership in ways that we might not even consider. Debates still circulate in our newsroom on whether to use Latino, Latine or Latinx or how best to refer to someone who uses multiple pronouns. The concerns brought to the Copy desk are never easy, and I failed at times but succeeded at others.

At the end of the day, I guess I’m no different from the long legacy of -30- columnists. The Daily Bruin has given me some of the best experiences I’ve had at UCLA, but there were many times I felt incredibly isolated and overworked.

Yet I’m happy to report that I have almost too many people to thank by name, so I’ll keep it short and sweet. Firstly, a big shoutout to my 2021-2022 slot editor team. All of you made me feel immediately at home at The Bruin, and our Copy-specific Slack memes are among the funniest things I’ve ever seen, no matter how nerdy that sounds. Another big thank you to my 2022-2023 slot editor and Copy team that I helped lead this year. I’m always in awe of how much you all have grown, and working with you has taught me so much.

To my friends in other sections – PRIME, Design, Photo, News and more – I’m so grateful for the time I shared with you. Every late-night Barney’s Beanery run, Epicuria at Ackerman swipe-in and funny wall quote – I’ve appreciated it all.

It’s quite possible I’ve edited at least one piece of content from each staffer at the paper, and I’ve admired each and everyone’s work. So, to the entirety of the Daily Bruin, I apologize for the pagelong Slack messages I’ve sent with edits. It was never that deep.

And finally, thank you to the UCLA community. In my time with The Bruin, I helped cover fun topics, such as mimes and campus events, to serious issues, such as shooting threats and strikes. Know that I did my best to make sure you were represented fairly and accurately. I might be the unknown editor behind the laptop, but it’s been an honor being a part of your stories.

Mukherji was a Copy contributor 2021, slot editor 2021-2022, News contributor 2021-2023, PRIME contributor 2022-2023 and assistant Copy chief 2022-2023.

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Ramona Mukherji | Assistant Copy chief
Mukherji is the 2022-2023 assistant Copy chief. She was previously a 2021-2021 slot editor and contributes to News. She is a fourth-year English and public affairs student.
Mukherji is the 2022-2023 assistant Copy chief. She was previously a 2021-2021 slot editor and contributes to News. She is a fourth-year English and public affairs student.
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