Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 8
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Letter from the Editor: Reading and writing

Dear readers,

Good endings are important. Whether you’re writing an article or wrapping up another semester at Whitman, you always want to leave things in just the right place before marking that final period, or packing up to leave for the holidays. Good endings also tend to be reflective. But when it’s open season for sleep deprivation and work cited sheets and last-minute travel plans, reflection is an easy thing to forget.

That’s why I want to take this opportunity in our last issue before break (lucky number 13!) to briefly look back on what The Pio has achieved this semester, where we’re heading, and why we still need your help. A newspaper should never be the product of a few individuals’ visions, but rather a service to its community. So whether you read a copy each week with red pen in hand or this is the first time you’ve flipped through The Pio, we’re indebted to you for making what we do meaningful. And to all of our readers who have taken the time to submit their ideas, opinions, advice, outrage and praise: thank you. We are reliant on your feedback to produce a paper that is as relevant to the Whitman and Walla Walla experience as we can make it without individually interviewing every member of the campus and community each week (for those of you who are the oft-quoted exceptions to this rule, all of you saintly Encounters professors, administrators and reporters’ roommates: thank you, too). This semester, we strove to expand our coverage and cultivate an even larger, more diverse readership while never losing sight of our base, the student body. Some of our more specific accomplishments:

  • News reporting that includes more follow-ups on important issues, like our series on H1N1, the valley transit campaign and campus crime. More consistent coverage of Whitman faculty and the community as reflected in coverage of the 3-2 decision and voting in Walla Walla.
  • A balance of reviews and human interest stories in A&E, in addition to event-based stories, a weekly crossword and seasonal recipes.
  • More in-depth investigatory reporting and better visuals for Feature.
  • A dynamic Sports team committed to coverage of Whitman athletics as well high-quality commentary.
  • Regular and diverse Opinions columns ranging from the Chinese university system to Whitman community service to current events.
  • The best Humor section the Pio’s 120-year history (this claim has been fact-checked: they told me so).

And on a more personal note . . .

I’m so grateful to have had the privilege of leading The Pio this semester. I can honestly, if unoriginally, say it has been the most challenging and rewarding experience I have undertaken in college so far, and I will certainly take more away from having held the position of editor-in-chief than I would have ever been capable of bringing to it. Because despite my tirades about sleep loss and its many incarnations: as a form of torture, as a way of killing brain cells and astro quiz grades, as the functional equivalent of intoxication: it was a privilege. And to all of the wonderful and talented people with whom I have had the pleasure of working, you impacted me far more than you’ll ever know. Whenever I pick up The Pio on Thursdays and squint bleary-eyed at our front page, I am struck by the amazing alchemy of all that hard work and creativity transformed into 12 printed pages and a Web site with more than 100,000 views since September. It’s like our own little weekly miracle, with typos. And it could never happen without the exhaustive efforts of everyone who writes, edits, draws, designs, photographs, promotes, uploads: and of course reads: The Pio.

Although I will be studying abroad next semester, as will several of our current editors, I expect to be involved in some capacity with The Pio for the remainder of my time at Whitman, as I have been since the start. I don’t think I could keep myself away if I tried.

Junior Molly Smith will be taking over as editor-in-chief in the spring, and junior Derek Thurber as publisher. I’m confident that they will both do great things to further enhance The Pio‘s readership and reputation. Although it’s tempting to say that an organization that undergoes regular shifts in leadership will inevitably suffer, I think the opposite is often true: The Pio‘s constant regeneration is among its greatest strengths, something that makes us not only versatile, but hopefully accessible. Working for The Pio is something everyone should try out at least once; applications are available online at www.whitmanpioneer.com.

Earlier this semester I said that my primary goal was for us to learn from our mistakes. I think we have. I think we always will. What I’ve come to realize is that this process of evaluating ourselves: as students, as journalists and as members of this community: won’t go away if the font changes, or we print on purple pages, or Whitman starts offering free journalism classes. It’s permanent, and it’s the most valuable part of working for The Pio:

May 1, 2008: “LAY OFF: The Whitman  Pioneer definitely does not suck.”

Oct. 3, 2008: “Don’t write off The Pioneer, write to it.”

I’ve always felt these two old letters from the editor captured our zeitgeist. While the precise wording may fluctuate from year to year, that’s the messages I’d like to send, too.

Which brings me to the last word: not really an ending, but more of a transition, that final period I mentioned more like a comma in one everlasting run-on sentence. Just not an Oxford comma.

Happy holidays from The Pio!

– Gillian

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