Letter from the editor: I came into this role to serve the community. Now it’s time to pass the baton.

Outgoing Editor-in-Chief Sophie Austin thanks AU community as her tenure ends

Letter from the editor: I came into this role to serve the community. Now it’s time to pass the baton.

I signed up for this job — but not really. None of us signed up for everything that's ensued over the past year.

Something that’s repeatedly run through my mind during my time as The Eagle’s editor-in-chief: I knew it would be hard, but not this hard.

Despite this, I can’t overstate how grateful I am to have served in the role during such a pivotal time in history.

We, the student journalists of The Eagle, have set ambitious goals amid heartbreaking circumstances. We’ve accomplished so much and set ourselves up to continue to serve the community in the best way we can in the future. 

However, it’s impossible to remember only the good memories. The good comes with the bad.

We’ve made mistakes that we must continue to learn from. We should be proud that we’ve increased the racial diversity of staff, and the team should keep its foot on the gas. One of the main reasons I applied for this role was to help diversify our staff and coverage. 

It’s personal to me. 

I am the first Black female editor-in-chief of The Eagle, according to a review completed by Leslie Nellis, the University Library’s associate archivist. That fact brings me deep sadness, given that the paper was founded nearly a century ago. It also gives me intense internal pressure to do the best I can. Dear future Black editors-in-chief of The Eagle, I hope I’m around to support you if and when you need me.

I have faith that The Eagle’s team will continue to make diversifying staff and coverage a priority. That’s because our team has demonstrated this past year its commitment to report for the community. Where we’ve failed, we’ve held ourselves accountable.

This school year brought us the continuation of a pandemic, a social Greek life abolition movement, and a reckoning with racism and police brutality. We’ve reported on these issues thoughtfully and relentlessly. I’m immensely proud of all of our staff, but particularly of our underclassmen, who amaze me with their dedication.

We launched El Águila, our Spanish section, and will release our El Águila magazine on campus next week. Clare Mulroy, The Eagle’s incoming editor-in-chief, plans to expand the section during her tenure, starting by hiring its first managing editor.

The Eagle revealed American University’s exposure of thousands of students’ data, wrote profiles of student-athletes committed to advocacy, launched a sports podcast and created multiple series for the Life division. 

AU students, faculty and staff continue to engage with our content to stay informed, to critique our reporting and to support our work. I hope and expect that they will continue to do this in the decades to come. It keeps them up to date and helps The Eagle improve.

There are so many people I need to thank for their efforts throughout the year. But I’ll list a few of them here: Kelsey Carolan and Abbie Veitch, thank you for being such great friends and discussing important decisions with me. Georgina DiNardo, Daniella Ignacio, Nina Heller, Grace Newton and everyone else who’s worked for our Copy and Online teams, thank you for keeping The Eagle up and running every day. Spencer Nusbaum, thank you for leading the Sports team through stellar reporting in a year without in-person game coverage. Also, thank you for making everyone laugh during staff meetings via your Zoom chat comments and emojis. Isabela Linares Uscher, Aline Behar Kado, Gaby Sosa, Melissa Howell, Paulina Mendoza, Ronaldo Bolaños, Giovanna Aguilar Chee and Pablo Molina Asensi, thank you for believing enough in the El Águila vision that you wrote or edited for the section. Sam McAllister and Riya Kohli, thank you for leading the Opinion team with ingenuity and style. Izzy Wolff, thank you for your brilliant idea to launch The Eagle Explains, a section of our newsletter where staffers share insight on their work. Professors John Watson, Amy Eisman and Sherri Williams, thank you for your expertise as we made difficult ethical and editorial calls. Rod Wilson, Zach C. Cohen and Heather Mongilio, thank you for your continued support as The Eagle Advisory Board helped us use allocations from The Eagle Innovation Fund for managing editor stipends and online initiatives. David Aldridge, thank you for paving the way as The Eagle’s first Black editor-in-chief, according to Nellis. Courtney Rozen, Haley Samsel and Lydia Calitri, thank you for sharing your wisdom with me as previous Eagle editors-in-chief.

As for my immediate successor, I can’t wait to see Clare excel in the role. She brings to The Eagle’s top spot stellar leadership experience and a track record for uplifting the voices of marginalized communities. That’s exactly what we need. I’m immensely proud of her and excited to see what she and the team accomplish.

It will take me a while to process the events that took place during my tenure. Sometimes, I can’t believe that we’ve been running a school paper remotely, spearheading multimedia projects and sections along the way. Sometimes, I can’t believe that I’m the editor-in-chief of The Eagle. Pinch me.

Now, for me, on to the next thing.

saustin@theeagleonline.com

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