On Wednesday, March 11, we sat together in our Gatehouse office for the last time.
It was the day that the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, the day after the University had suspended in-person classes. Otherwise, March 11 was like any other production night.
We edited our pages, trying not to think about the possibility that they were our last, pretending that in that moment, nothing mattered more. We fussed over “orphans” and “widows,” over passive voice and O Copy My Copy (our style guide). We revised the editorial, put our finishing touches on headlines and worried, as usual, about getting the paper to the printers on time (5 a.m.).
Then, as the night grew later, our staff came in one by one to say goodbye.
I’m heading out. Well, it’s that time of night now. Have a good spring break.
Each time, we said goodbye as though it were any other night (with the exception of a few hugs). Each time after they left, we turned to each other. That’s it, we’d think. Who knows when we’ll see them again?
Days before, we were dreading April 22, when we’d have our last Wednesday night. We were dreading May, when we’d have our spring formal, when we’d say goodbye to our staff. We were not ready to let go. How could we properly thank them now for everything they’d done?
We assured ourselves: in April, maybe we’ll all come back. This isn’t the last time.
Then all too quickly, it was just the two of us. Shortly after 5 a.m., we sent the pages to the printer. We shut off our computers, and double-checked that all the other computers were off too. We threw out the trash, unplugged the heaters, turned off the lights and shut the Gatehouse doors. We walked past the BMA sculpture garden, past Mattin Center and said a rushed goodbye, ready to go to bed before the sky grew any brighter.
For the most part, our desk is just as we left it. Two somewhat dysfunctional iMacs. Some skin-care products from last year’s chiefs. A pile of thank-you cards we still have to send. Sherry the Rock. A red solo cup full of The News-Letter stickers. A homemade flamingo pin smoking a pipe that got decapitated against our desk (long story).
But over the past few weeks, the paper has changed more than we could have possibly imagined.
Since spring break, we have published content nearly every single day. Every section has learned to adapt to writing and editing and copy reading across oceans and time zones and computer screens. This pandemic has pushed us — and our staff — to adapt to a whole new set of difficulties that we never could have anticipated.
We could not be prouder of our incredible team for adapting to every single thing that has been thrown at us this year. From starting off in September without a business team, a functioning toilet or drinking water, to now, scattered across the world, without our typical resources and unable to gather together as a team in the Gatehouse.
We thank our editorial staff for dedicating hours upon hours, both on campus and off, ensuring that we always produce content of the highest quality. We thank our design team for their wonderful photos and graphics that enhance every story. And we thank our business team, for learning and growing with us this year and for helping us remain editorially and financially independent.
This year was a year of firsts, none of which could have happened without everyone working as hard as they did. We revamped our website (hopefully you noticed!), we welcomed our inaugural Public Editor, we dramatically changed the way our A1s and B1s look and we cleaned out the basement (truly the biggest achievement). And with your help, we raised over $16,000 for The News-Letter in our first ever fundraiser.
Thank you to our readers for engaging with our content and supporting us. Thank you to everyone who shared their stories with us this year. Thank you to the editors who came before us and set a standard for us to strive toward.
It has been a privilege to serve as Editors-in-Chief of The News-Letter this year, and we are so excited to see all that our successors, Rudy Malcom and Katy Wilner, accomplish next year. As sad as we are to go, we cannot wait to see what next year’s staff achieve and to read all the new stories that they’ll share.