Opinions

Four years at the Dal Gazette

Two editors reflect on their time in student journalism

Four years at the Dal Gazette photo by : Mathew Kahansky
Perks of the job: meeting the Arkells. (Eleanor is on the far left, Sabina is third from the right.)
written by Eleanor Davidson and Sabina Wex
April 14, 2017 12:04 am

Welcome to the Dalhousie Gazette’s last issue of the 2016-17 school year. This year marked a huge change to our paper – one of the biggest in its 149-year history.

Over the course of the past eight months we halved our number of issues to focus on quality instead of quantity. We created a brand new website. We engaged with students across social media, in person and in print. We made you laugh, made you think, and sometimes we pissed you off. We’re proud of that.

This last issue is a reflection of what we’ve learned over the past year, and a commitment to quality. We gave each of our editors the chance to delve into a topic, and to write about issues that really matter to them. This passion shines through in the pages you’re about to read.

With the last issue always comes a lot of self-reflection and melancholy. Oh, the melancholy of writers and journalists – that stuff is potent. After four years of writing for, working with and wallowing about the Gazette, our Engagement Manager, Sabina Wex, and our Editor-in-Chief, Eleanor Davidson, will both be leaving.

The lessons we have learned over the past four years are both intensely personal and profoundly clichéd. Nonetheless, they’ve taught us a lot about how to work as journalists, as managers, and as people. Oh God, back at it again with the melancholy.

Condensed into these next few paragraphs is our attempt to summarize what you learn working at a campus paper:

  1. Journalism is  relatable.

Eleanor: In these days of doom and gloom about the future of journalism, we found some hope this year. We published stories that brought people together, and that really pissed them off. This roller coaster of emotions proved one thing: people are paying attention to what we do.

Sabina: The Gazette continues to stick to the basic principles and ethics of journalism while still engaging a good chunk of the Dal population. It’s not like we spent huge amounts of money to make high quality videos or have celebrity columns to increase engagement – we did what we’re trained to do: tell stories. What changed this year? We did it in our own voices instead of trying to be the New York Times. We related to our audience instead of condescending to them.

  1. Sometimes people just don’t give a fuck

Eleanor: Time for a direct contradiction! Sometimes a story that we’ll plan for weeks will be quietly received, while a simple article will ignite the rage of the Twittersphere. If the Gazette has taught me anything, it’s to get used to things being unpredictable, and to never be too confident in your work.

Sabina: You can’t please everyone. It sucks if you’ve planned a big story or if people are taking your words out of context, but not everyone cares. As a journalist, editor or manager, it’s your job to figure out what people care about.

  1. Play to your strengths

Eleanor: I am extremely proud to be a self-professed grandma. Except in terms of social media, where many Nannys and Grammys have much more active Facebook profiles than I do. Joking aside, this was one of the most important things I took away from my time at the Gazette: figure out what you’re best at, and give it everything you’ve got. Sabina’s enthusiasm with our social media pages proved her to be a force to be reckoned with. My obsession with organization and overseeing the big picture made working with the staff and producing our print issues a natural fit. These options are always available at the Gazette: take what you enjoy, and make it yours.

Sabina: Eleanor and I decided that we needed to amp up our online presence this year. I had more experience with online, so I took that side over and she focused on print. This was an amazing set-up because it alleviated both our workloads and led to a significantly less stressful year for both of us.

But this year, I have turned into a slightly more mature 16-year-old because I’m on my phone A LOT, something I wasn’t used to after having a flip phone until early 2016. It’s been funny talking to Eleanor about different Insta happenings and her be like, what? Whereas she’ll chat to me about print ones, and I’m like, hold up, Kylie Jenner just created a new lip injection.

 

We could fill this paper with life lessons – both good and bad – that we’ve taken from our time here. But that would be boring. So let us just share one last thing:

We wouldn’t have learned all this stuff if we never stood in a corner of a contributor meeting early on in our first years, clutching slices of pizza for moral support. You don’t have to be a writer or a journalist to work for the paper. You don’t have to have prior experience.

Reach out to us, come to a contributor meeting, send us a DM – there are so many opportunities at the Gazette, and we want to share your voice.

Thank you always for bearing with us as we shared ours.