After a longer-than-expected hiatus from the Gatehouse (The News-Letter’s office), I’ve somehow found myself back here again to write my last column. It feels fitting. There is something comforting about being back in the space where I spent so much of the last four years. In fact, there were many weeks where I spent more time here than I did in my own apartment. It feels good to be back, though more than a little bittersweet.
Everything looks almost exactly as it did when we left in March 2020. The paint on the door is still cracked. There is still a somewhat cursed Edgar Allan Poe mask in the window and two old couches in the main room — though they are now both covered in stickers declaring “Do Not Sit Here.” My writing still covers a small whiteboard in the Chiefs’ office, marking our Sections of the Week and the times my Co-Editor and I left every Thursday morning. 7:30 a.m. after our first production night. 5:15 a.m. on an excitingly early morning.
But writing to just the sounds of Baltimore traffic and birds chirping feels almost eerie. I miss the energy and the movement and the vibrancy that I associate with The News-Letter and with this office. I know that hopefully soon, things will return to how they used to be — at least somewhat.
General meetings on Mondays at 7 p.m. will leave the Zoom screen and return to the packed main room. Editors will write and work in the same room, not sprawled across campus and the world. I hope that day comes soon for next years’ editors, and I hope that you don’t take for granted how lucky we are to have this space and to have the people who make The News-Letter the incredible institution that it has been over the last 125 years.
In many ways, this form of the Gatehouse and of The News-Letter is easier to say goodbye to. Because I know that the next time I’m back here — hopefully for a normal, in-person Alumni Weekend — the paper will feel even more normal than it does right now.
It will be the Gatehouse that I got lost trying to find on the way to my first Arts & Entertainment meeting when I got stuck behind the sculpture garden. It will be the Gatehouse we spent months renovating. It will be the Gatehouse where I sent our pages off to the printers in Delaware. It will be the Gatehouse where we played the Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel and Billy Joel. It will be the Gatehouse where I, along with hundreds of editors before me, wrote my first articles, laid out pages and made lifelong friends.
Soon, the Gatehouse will be buzzing with writers and photographers, designers and business members. There might still be big tubs of hand sanitizer, but masks won’t be required and neither will social distancing. The Gatehouse hasn’t always been home for The News-Letter, but if you ever find yourself working on the paper, you’ll get a privileged look inside our walls, and it’ll be impossible for you to imagine The News-Letter existing anywhere else.
So I want to say thank you. Thank you for everything that made writing this final column so difficult and for making saying goodbye to The News-Letter one of the hardest goodbyes I’ll have to say this year.
Thank you for giving me a second home on campus in the form of the Gatehouse. Thank you for giving me purpose. For giving me late Wednesday nights that became Thursday mornings. For giving me a place to learn and grow and make mistakes and — I hope — improve. For stacks and stacks of newspapers I now have to get home to London somehow. For giving me one of my best friends. For late-night runs to the Mattin Center and 7-Eleven, old couches and a definitely not haunted attic. For showing me that journalism is something I can and should pursue. Thank you.
Amelia Isaacs is a senior from London majoring in English and Writing Seminars. She is a former Magazine Editor, Editor-in-Chief and Arts & Entertainment Editor for The News-Letter.