Advisor Editorial: Déjà vu, half a century later…
That’s right! As the late, great Yogi Berra might say: “It feels like déjà vu all over again!”
Fifty years ago this week, I sat down in front of my portable Smith Corona typewriter to write my last editorial for the Pacific Weekly. Today, I find myself iPhone in hand, composing my farewell thoughts as the Faculty Advisor for the past decade of that same newspaper, now dubbed The Pacifican. Little could anyone have imagined or predicted (least of all me) the course of events which would bring me full circle, back to this truly ironic “Milestone Moment.”
On that day, 50 years ago, it seemed the Pacific Weekly had enjoyed a banner year. After all, we had been honored by the Overseas Press Club/Columbia University’s 8th Annual College Editors Conference for Best World Coverage by a college weekly in America for our treatment of the United Nations’ 20th anniversary. The California Legislature had passed a resolution recognizing us for that accomplishment. One of our section editors, Chris Leave, was President-Elect of the California Intercollegiate Press Association. And, the paper was robust enough to announce it would go twice weekly in the fall (hence the name change to The Pacifican).
Admittedly, we enjoyed some advantages unavailable to the current staff. First and foremost, we had a strong academic framework, with a number of journalism courses to choose from. We had a dedicated revenue stream, from a subscription fee embedded in the general student fee, and we had a healthy advertising base of local merchants.
Today, none of that holds true. The basic journalism courses have disappeared. The dedicated subscription fee has been absorbed into the general student fee, and the local merchants have been largely displaced by the big national chain stores, which don’t generally advertise in papers as small as The Pacifican.
All the more amazing, then, that today’s Pacifican continues to thrive and survive as it looks forward to its 108th year of continuous publication!
Why then, with such challenges, make such an effort to continue a college newspaper, in these days of electronic media, 24/7 global news networks and Internet-based social media?
Because, according to readership studies done by the highly respected Poynter Institute, college papers provide a unique, essential source of news and information to their campus readership. It’s news and information the campus can use that is not readily available from other sources.
A vibrant, energized, engaged campus newspaper serves as a centerpiece of campus news and views.
Today’s campus newspaper is an amazing hub of activity. It is simultaneously an experiential learning laboratory for aspiring students, a thriving small business (hopefully) and a vital voice in its campus community. In Pacific’s case, a community of more than 6,000… Bigger than my hometown of Alpine, Texas, when I was a boy.
In recent years, much time, attention and discussion has been devoted to the “New Media,” as is appropriate. Even so, the principles of sound journalism are as critical as ever, if not more so, today.
Strong editorial direction, oversight and judgment are more vital than ever. Responsible, objective, accurate, timely news reporting is in greater demand than ever. Moreover, the voracious appetite for content is greatly expanding the opportunity for future news producers, editors and content providers.
There has never been a more exciting time to be an aspiring journalist!
So, here I am, 50 years later, another Milestone Moment, as I bring to a close a decade of service to The Pacifican, as the paper successfully concludes 107 years of publication at Pacific.
Amazing to consider that, between my time on staff and my time as Advisor, it’s been a great pleasure and privilege to be associated with this paper for more than 10 percent of its entire record of service to the Pacific community!
It’s been a great ride… And I’m proud to say, in both roles as Editor-in- Chief and as Advisor, we have been an award-winning newspaper. So once more, it is time to take my leave of this great old bastion of college journalism.
My very Best Wishes to future editors and staffers. May your service to The Pacifican bring you as much pleasure and satisfaction as it has to me.
Best Wishes, also, to my successor, the tremendously talented, effervescent and experienced journalist, Jennifer Torres Siders, who brings youth, energy and currency to The Pacifican as it moves forward to the next level!
This weekend, my wife Margaret and I look forward to our induction into the “Half Century Club” as, together with other members of the Class of 1966, we celebrate our 50th Class Reunion.
Best of all, through it all, Margaret has been my BFF and lifetime partner (and former Office Manager of the Pacific Weekly). May 11th marked our 53rd anniversary… How blessed we are.
And we are so grateful to Providence for it all, and for all of you, Pacificans past and present, as well as friends and colleagues who have made the journey so worthwhile. Go Tigers!