A sales pitch

Like many of you, I’m graduating in  June. This is therefore the last editorial I’ll ever write for The Medium. Knowing this, I’m tempted to write with a vengeance and to touch on many topics. I’m tempted, for example, to introduce next year’s terrific team, to reminisce about my experience at our newspaper, to thank the countless people who contributed to The Medium this year, and to reflect on what it’s been like to work in what many would consider a dying industry. But I can’t do a decent job if I focus on so many different issues—not in the space of one column, and not unless I want to bore you to death.

So, after much consideration, I decided to make my last editorial a sales pitch for The Medium. Before I do that, however, I do have to thank Amir, Michael, Su Lyn, Andrew, Saaliha, Matt, Heather, and Romano, among many others, for helping make us a better paper, one that saw twice the amount of online hits than in the previous year. I also have to wish Saaliha Malik, my successor, the best of luck, and to publicly state my faith that both the new team and her will do an amazing job.

Working as Editor-in-Chief of this newspaper has been one of the most fruitful experiences of my life. Ali Kasim, previous EIC, wrote in his last editorial that he had learned more on the job than he ever did as a student at UTM. I won’t go as far, but I will say this: in the one year that I worked as EIC, I learned what I would’ve needed two years to learn at UTM. There are many reasons for this, but I can best sum it up with the following old saying: “Tell someone how to do something and they’ll forget. Show them, and they may not remember. Involve them, and they’ll understand.”

UTM has no journalism program, so other than a handful of Professional Writing professors, we have no one to tell or show us how to make a newspaper. This leaves us with no choice but to get involved and to understand. We come to the office every day, and since we don’t have anyone to teach us, we simply sit down and do it. We don’t do a perfect job—far from it. We pay for our mistakes dearly, more so than in any university course—every time we make one, an upwards of 5,000 readers notice, be it a misquote or typo splashed across the cover page.

But far from discouraging us, this limitation encourages us. In the process of working (and making mistakes), we learn about interviewing and writing and editing. We learn about time management and about Robert’s rules of order. We learn about ourselves and our fellow students and our profs. More to the point, we learn about UTM, the one thing we all have in common, and the one thing we will all remember for our entire lives.

Look at this issue alone. Reading it,  you will learn about  an interesting experiment that involves a toonie and well-meaning management students, about UTM’s soon-to-happen prescribed burn and about the best secret on-campus locations to hook up. You will learn about all this and more, but you won’t learn as much as the students who wrote and edited these stories—these students had to go out,  meet the person they profiled face to face and visit new locations. They had to think and focus. They had to get involved. They had to understand.

Many UTM students seem to think its hard to work for us. Stefanie Marotta, former assistant news editor, told me last week that in her first year, she stood in the main floor of the Student Centre, twisting her hands and eyeing our office upstairs with apprehension. She eventually knocked on our office door, but I wonder how many other lost the nerve and left.

Yet it’s not hard to work for us. Almost all UTM students have publishable writing skills. And they all have skills that they can improve, with our help and their own perseverance. So please take a deep breath, go up the stairs and knock on our door. I promise you this: if you ever wanted to do it, but end up not, you will regret it.

As I find myself nearing the end of my days at UTM, I know I will miss many things. I will miss this dusty office, and the friends that I made, and the late night Psychology classes and the CCIT labs and the anticipation of reading a story aloud in a PWC class. But most of all, I will miss not doing the things that I always wanted to do, like enrolling in the debate club or going to the Olympic weightlifting seminars. Even if joining The Medium does not rank high on your personal list of things to do at UTM, you can bet your bottom dollar that working for our newspaper will allow you add new things to that list.

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here