I’ve thought about the moment I would be writing this column since I joined The East Carolinian (TEC) nearly three years ago. However, I didn’t think it would be right on deadline, during my last production as editor-in-chief surrounded by almost 200 issues of the newspaper that has offered me not only a remarkable undergraduate experience but a home away from home here at East Carolina University.
The moment I stepped into the Self Help building in Uptown Greenville, North Carolina, the fall semester of 2017, I thought I would never amount to the group of journalists that surrounded me; I had missed the tryout deadline for the Candidate Program and had no interest in journalism. I knew I wanted to write and I knew I wanted a platform to publish my writing on, what I didn’t know is that I’d soon find a passion for sharing the stories of those who might not otherwise have the ability to do so.
We aren’t student journalists, we’re journalists that just so happen to also be students. The balance of it all seems nearly impossible and for that, I am thankful I’m reaching closer and closer until I put on the purple gown hanging up in my closet. A balance that most will never come to understand, so before you underestimate the ability of these students behind the words on your screen I suggest you take a step back.
I’ve spent days standing on a crowded, wire-filled press box floor reporting on speeches from major state politicians, our former president, followed by a 15-hour-long production in the newsroom the next morning. I’ve investigated transparency concerns between higher administration, faculty and students. I’ve held important discussions around the relationship between the media and marginalized communities, led a staff of 30 people for two years, assisted students in finding their voice during elections, made mistakes and laughed with my editorial board in our office until tears were pouring down my face.
Don’t get me wrong, they built a shiny brand new Main Campus Student Center, but forgot to make room for student media and stuck us in a campus dead zone. Other news outlets provided almost the exact same coverage on certain situations and only we received heat for it. My inbox was sometimes repeatedly spammed with unwelcoming emails around my choices as EIC and I mean hey, Pirate Rants returning hasn’t been an issue has it now?
But, most importantly I have been able to find my light because without journalism I would be in the dark; without journalism, my world would be silent. So thank you, to my staff, to my advisors, professors, parents and readers, but especially to the newspaper, I will always hold close to my heart while navigating what my next steps as a Pirate will be.