Letter from the Editor: Incredible journalism isn’t the only thing to be proud of this semester

Editor+of+The+Beacon+Chris+Van+Buskirk.

Media: Jakob Menendez

Editor of The Beacon Chris Van Buskirk.

By Chris Van Buskirk

The print redesign. The new flag. A new office. Increased metro coverage. The Marlboro acquisition. The deaths of Daniel Hollis and Moses Shumow. Controversial legislation from the SGA Treasurer. The removal of WEBN’s advisor. The list goes on and on for what seems like an eternity. Stories and threads the fall 2019 Berkeley Beacon staff relentlessly covered with all their effort and journalistic skills. 

This semester, however, saw much more than incredible work from journalists at our campus newspaper. 

Community members enjoyed a slight reprieve from construction before the administration ramped up sidewalk renovations. Will Emerson College ever free itself from scaffolding and hard hats? Separately, students and faculty in Vermont face a difficult situation: watch your beloved institution close and decide whether or not to travel to a major metropolitan city.

Fall 2019 was marked with controversy, grief, happiness, and uncertainty on many fronts. And even though the light at the end of the tunnel seemed to fade at many points over the past 14 weeks, Emersonians need to take pride in the work they accomplished this term. Students, faculty, and staff survived an onslaught of classes, work, and holiday breaks visiting family. They worked through the stress and anxiety from changing to a “wonderful” new system called Workday, stumbled home at two in the morning after many enjoyable (regrettable?) Tam Thursdays, and endured all the other bullshit that comes with attending college in downtown Boston. 

As fall draws to a close and winter ushers in a new set of obstacles, it is important to note changes on our campus and at The Beacon. Sitting down to quickly reflect on the past semester, it seems like it went by in one minute. When an editor at The Beacon is initially chosen to become the next editor-in-chief of the paper, they do not think about all the trials and tribulations they might face in the coming months. I certainly did not. 

We choose information accessibility

News and the truth are under constant attack in our current moment, just when they are needed the most. The Beacon’s quality, fact-based accounting of historic events has never mattered more, and our editorial independence is of paramount importance. We believe journalism is a public good that should be available to all regardless of one’s ability to pay for it. But we can not continue to do this without you. Every little bit, whether big or small, helps fund our vital work — now and in the future.

Learning to effectively manage a staff of 50-plus individuals proved to be one of the most challenging aspects of running The Beacon. Top editors at the paper had to balance difficult editorial and business decisions with clear communication to the rest of the staff—oftentimes acknowledging the failure to do so. 

Members of The Beacon could never have predicted some of the situations they encountered this fall. The idea of driving to Vermont was never on the table. And, most importantly, having to cut back on my own reporting to focus on steering the ship never once crossed my mind back in May. 

Still, I never thought I would be sitting in the office at the end of the semester looking back at 13 issues of The Berkeley Beacon with such wonderful people on the masthead. 

At some point in the semester, after we crossed the midway marker, things started to flow. Communication increased. Coverage of Marlboro and the Emerson administration strengthened, and The Beacon’s staff gained momentum. Editors, reporters, photographers, copy editors, business staff, and correspondents should take pride in the work done this semester. It was truly a team effort. 

To everyone looking forward to winter break, take a moment when you get home to breathe. Let the stress of the semester wash off you like water on a duck’s back. Recenter yourself and spend time with family and friends. Enjoy the few weeks of calm before we have to come back and do it all over again. 

Sincerely,

Chris Van Buskirk

Editor-in-Chief, The Berkeley Beacon