Editorial: An editor’s farewell

By Athena Chrysanthou, Editor-in-chief

No amount of experience deems any new editor-in-chief of a college newspaper qualified or ready for the job when they start.

At the Daily Egyptian, the rise to the lead the newsroom is usually one that involves starting as a reporter and working your way up.

I took over as Editor-in-chief eight months ago from editors before me who were reporters, then desk editors and had multiple high-profile internships.

My situation was different.

I came to the U.S. from England four years ago as a student-athlete on the tennis team working towards a degree in journalism. Last February when the tennis team was cut, I had the option to stay or to transfer and play my final year.

This was not a decision I took lightly – tennis had been my life for fourteen years and what I owe my opportunities and successes to.

I took every single experience from being on the tennis team at SIU and applied it to my role in the newsroom. These past eight months have tested me on many levels, but only increased my passion for journalism and working with others.

This job is not necessarily about the qualifications or level of experience, it is about having the willingness to learn but also perseverance in times of low morale and high stress.

Sitting in the editor chair, you make a choice. That choice is to put your staff before yourself and realize that it is not about you anymore.

This essentially means sacrifices. You sacrifice your own developments as a reporter, photographer, or designer to help make others work as good as it can be.

I have had the privilege of being able to do both this year, but have taken more pleasure out of seeing my staff succeed and feeling I had a role in their successes. Watching people grow as journalists and seeing lifelong friendships form in the newsroom is what has made this job worth it.

My position means you have to make many decisions on a daily basis, and that includes finding a balance between being a boss, mentor, leader and friend.

I can’t say I found the perfect balance, but I don’t believe there is one.

It is easy for some to forget we are also students, some seniors, some with another job, and others who are just starting out in journalism. I have seen many come through the newsroom, and have used it as a platform to figure out if this is the career path they want to take.

Some quickly realize they hate journalism, but others stay and from the Daily Egyptian have gone on to lead lifelong careers in the industry.

For members of the editorial board, there has been some days in the newsroom the past year where tension is high and stress at a peak.

Arguments, disagreements, late Sunday night meetings and keeping up with deadlines come part and parcel with being on the editorial board.

I cannot be more proud of how fellow editors have, at the toughest times this year, come together as a unit and worked through disagreements to find a collective solution.

While these moments have been a regular occurrence, it is these moments that help us grow not only as an editorial board, but as friends.

Some of my best friends I have made in college, I have made in the newsroom.

This is something I have reiterated to my staff this semester. That when you leave the Daily Egyptian, it is not the stories you have written, or the photos you have taken that you will remember. It is the people and the memories made in the newsroom that you will think of when you look back. 

There have been some days where I have been in the newsroom for hours, extremely sleep deprived and wondering how I will get everything done.

In those moments, I would stop and remember how lucky I am to be part of the legacy of the Daily Egyptian and share my experiences with some of the greatest people I have had the privilege to be able to work with.

The nature of my position has meant I haven’t been able to leave the newsroom much, but have gotten to know the community and the university so well through the work and stories my staff have done.

The beautiful thing about being an editor is, it allows you look deep into the worst parts about yourself, but also make you realize the qualities you have.

Sometimes it can be a very lonely job, but one that brings something new every single day.

No student newsroom runs without the supporters of an academic advisor and other senior staff. Without the experience and consistent encouragement of mentors within the DE and journalism faculty, we would not be where we are.

Balance in life is not my strong suit. My senior year of college has been dedicated to the Daily Egyptian, and doing everything in my power to uphold the standards set by those before me.

Not once this year have I viewed my position as my job, but something that has given me the vital tools I need to move onto the next steps of my career.

The Daily Egyptian gave me back a sense of identity and purpose that I lost when tennis ended. Leaving it behind is going to be hard, but I am excited to move on and work on my own career in journalism.

A professor once told me everyone owes a part of their time to the upgrading of the profession to which they belong, this resonated with me on the days I felt confined to the newsroom and unable to shoot or write. 

One might think I am crazy to say this, but if I could do this year again, I would.

I would do it all again to have the privilege of being a part of something so critical to the community and everything journalism strives to be.

I am proud to have been able to experience the Daily Egyptian on the good days and bad days, and spend my last few days in the U.S. and at SIU with my staff.        

So, to the Daily Egyptian and those who have supported us this year, I thank you and bid farewell.

Editor-in-chief Athena Chrysanthou can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @Chrysant1Athena.

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