Daily Egyptian

Letter from the editor:#DElove is more than a hashtag

By Sarah Gardner, @rabbitearz

After wondering how to go about writing a farewell column for my last issue as editor-in-chief at the Daily Egyptian, I realized there really are no words to express the feelings I’ve had this week as I prepare for graduation — or those to describe how much the DE means to me.

This was my eighth semester working for the DE. After doing a little math, I realized I have been on the staff for more than 600 issues. I began a few weeks into my first semester of college as a staff photographer and, well, never left. As I wrap up my yearlong term as EIC, I cannot help but realize how much the DE has shaped my college career, or what my life would be like without it. As of this weekend, my term will officially be over, and I’ll be off to bigger — and so they say — better things.

Recently, students tend to come and go and staff turnover is common. It is different than many of the veteran staff members I looked up to when I was new. But even though there aren’t as many “DE-Lifers” as we like to call them, I am still incredibly proud of the staff we have. 

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Each year the staff votes for two newsroom awards — outstanding newsroom senior and outstanding newsroom rookie. In a typical year, there is roughly an equal number of seniors and rookies, or if anything, a larger group of seniors. This year, our staff had 25 rookies compared to four seniors including myself.

It was while I was writing the names on the chalkboard that I realized how much we had accomplished with so many new staff members. This year we improved in many areas, and finally began to think as a digital-first news organization, rather than limiting our identity to a physical newspaper. We tried new things and while some may have failed, others succeeded. Our Twitter account grew by more than 1,300 followers since August. We switched to a new website and increased our page traffic. Most importantly, the staff began to brainstorm and try new things together. That is what I’m most proud of.

EIC life hasn’t been easy. As a double major in photography and journalism, I’ve nearly lived in the Communications Building. I’ve had my fair share of all-nighters, stress, tears — and sometimes — trips to the health center. Despite the lack of sleep and constant busyness, I wouldn’t trade any of it. 

I’ve seen a change in myself since I arrived at SIU as a quiet, shy freshman. Aside from learning the skills that come with my majors, my confidence, public speaking, and professionalism have become so much greater in a short time. As a freshman I would have laughed had someone told me I would become the editor of a student newspaper someday. Now, I’m finishing a year at the helm, and will somehow still graduate Magna Cum Laude, a Chancellor’s Scholar and as a member of the University Honors Program.

At SIU I’ve shared wonderful memories with amazing people. Most are other student journalists, but some are faculty and the people I’ve meet while covering stories the past four years. These people are some of my best friends, I thank them and I will miss them terribly. 

This week has been full of “lasts,” but soon enough my life — and that of the incoming editors — is going to be full of “firsts.” I hope as the next editors of the DE produce their first editions, make decisions and pass along their knowledge to the new staff, they come to love the DE as much as I do.

I am truly sad to leave this place, but I know I leave it in good hands. Good luck to all those who will be returning to school and thank you for being such dedicated, passionate employees. I’m proud to join the ranks of the other successful former editors and look forward to the day when I visit the newsroom as an alumna. Make me proud, and remember #DEforLife.

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