I think my most vivid memory of my year-and-a-half tenure as editor-in-chief of The Hurricane was driving to the newsroom after Hurricane Katrina, stressing out about what our first issue of the semester would be like after a lockdown the first week of classes, while dodging debris strewn on the streets of Coral Gables. That deadline was the epitome of what working at a newspaper should be like-overcoming obstacles (both literally, in the case of branches blocking the road, and not so literally, like dealing with uncooperative sources), working behind-the-scenes on a muggy Sunday, and feeling enough of a sense of urgency about the news to come to campus when it was the last thing you felt like doing.
During my editorship, we made it our goal to improve the quality of our content. We focused less on reactive news (like the fact that there was free food in the UC Patio and you missed it) and more on the inner workings of the university. We still have room for improvement-we’ve certainly elicited our fair share of angry letters to the editor-but we’ve also taken steps forward, scooping the university on the names of the provost candidates and new dean of students, featuring professors’ research, and bringing to light the problem of faculty finding housing in Miami (a story for which our soon-to-be news editor is up for a national award).
We opened students’ eyes to some of the privacy issues that come with websites like facebook.com-and got national attention for doing so. We followed up on campus crime stories and tried to provide balanced coverage of as complex an issue as the UNICCO workers’ strike. We reviewed bands like My Chemical Romance before they were very famous, and we covered sports stories beyond recaps, doing athlete Q&As, featuring intramural teams and students studying to be athletic trainers.
Members of the community did not always agree with our news coverage or editorials, but we actively sought to incorporate a variety of perspectives, including faculty commentary, to the opinion section. Seeing from the good number of letters and op-eds we’ve received lately, we seem to have done a good job of opening up the forum to the community.
Some of my fondest memories from college will be from the newspaper: being in the spin room after the presidential debate, singing off-key to Virgin radio playing on iTunes in the office, feeling frazzled and then satisfied during an adrenaline-rushed deadline in the dimly-lit UC until 2 a.m. surrounded by our talented, opinionated staff, and, of course, being kept in the loop of what’s happening on campus. Next year I will be wondering, how will University Village work out? What will happen to the workers’ strike over the summer? What will the UC be like without the Rat? Whatever it is, I’m excited to find out-and I am confident The Hurricane will be there to cover it.
Patricia Mazzei is a junior majoring in economics and political science. She can be contacted at email@example.com. She will remain on staff next year as the newsroom mascot.