Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Saturday, July 21, 2018

I'm Mackenzie, bye

A newspaper, at its best, reflects the community that it serves. At The Eagle, we strive to report on the news involving our campus and surrounding area. Like other college newspapers, we face a unique challenge not only because we are all students and still learning, but also because each year the staff turns over and we start a new chapter.

I came to the newspaper during my freshman year, when it was in the basement of Anderson Hall. It published once a week back then, in black and white, and the masthead and the "American Living" B Section would be unrecognizable today.

Like a bunker, the office in the terrace lounge was a crude assemblage of desks, filing cabinets and computers. Wires ran across the floor and masses of past papers were piled in corners. The photographers were exiled to a study lounge around the corner and the business office took over a dorm room.

Three years and three editors later have made a huge difference. In my sophomore year we moved into Mary Graydon Center's renovated second floor and organized ourselves the best a newspaper on constant deadlines can. The changes didn't stop there, though. Two years ago the editor in chief, Jenn Kepka, moved The Eagle from a weekly publication to a shaky twice-a-week newspaper, and last year editor in chief Brett Zongker strengthened the content, quality and professionalism of the paper. Like the editors before them, their hard work and dedication set the groundwork for this year. As editor in chief, I inherited a strong newspaper.

When I came back from studying in Ireland to take over as editor, I approached the newspaper like all other aspects of my life - with big dreams. We jumped in at the beginning of the year, not really knowing how to swim. The staff and I learned as we went, as is expected of a college publication, and we accomplished this year what we set out to do.

We switched to a shorter news cycle, moving from a news-exclusive Monday edition and Thursday entertainment guide to having news, editorials, entertainment and sports in both the Monday and Thursday issues. We switched to a digital photography system, and in the second semester we put color on the front page.

And while the staff faced new challenges as we shortened the news cycles and put color on the front page, many of the same challenges we faced remain constant over the years, and the staff rose to each occasion: They covered difficult stories, called sources who didn't want to talk to them and stayed on deadline until 2 a.m., only to start a class assignment for their 9:55 class. The Eagle has grown tremendously this year.

As with every publication, not everyone agrees with every decision. Hindsight is 20-20, and The Eagle improved each issue thanks to readers who have not hesitated to make suggestions or correct us when we were wrong. We are blessed with an extremely active student population, both on campus and off, and their voices keep us focused.

Running a newspaper is like navigating the ocean without a compass - you're not exactly sure which way is north, and when a storm hits all you have is the crew's dedication and determination to keep the ship afloat.

The staff of this newspaper met each challenge this year head-on. They covered and broke stories with determination and courage. Every writer, photographer and editor who put their heart into their work, who gave us their best and who made this newspaper what it is today has earned my respect as a journalist and as a person. I couldn't have asked for a better staff or a better year, and I could not have done it without them. Thank you.


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