By ALLIE MCRAITH and JOHN ROGERS
Well, it’s been a helluva ride. As we publish our final Pioneer Log issue of the semester — and for the both of us, our final Pioneer Log issue ever — we wanted to take a moment to catch our breaths and reflect on our tenures.
Nothing about the Pioneer Log has ever been straightforward. It’s reputation is muddled; it’s organizational structure jerry-rigged; it’s humour can be contentious. The necessity of the Pioneer Log, however, has always been straightforward.
A phrase commonly uttered by those offered the job of Editor- in-Chief or Managing Editor at the Pioneer Log is, “Well somebody’s gotta’ do it.” It’s true, somebody must do it. A newspaper is a source of information, a rallying point, a representation of the community it exists within. In today’s politically correct culture, where freedom of speech and press is often a contentious issue — especially for college newspapers — students and faculty must have a place to speak. Even if no one chooses to utilize that place, it must remain as a refuge and as a symbol.
When leading the Pioneer Log, one develops a tremendous amount of respect for students and faculty who choose to write and work for the paper. Social media and other online mediums have transformed many of our generation into opinionated yet indecisive individuals. How powerful are your words when you can delete a post or edit your comment at any point? Putting your words in print requires thoughtfulness and confidence. Once the ink hits the page, it’s no longer yours to alter. At a school without a real journalism program, much less a single broadcast journalism professor, students have little professional guidance when regarding journalistic practices and writing styles.
As such, writing or working for the Pioneer Log presents a steep learning curve, one that can be daunting and sometimes teaches students just how permanent printed words can be.
Our combined years spent working for the paper have had their ups and downs. You could say that “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” As a writer, countless hours are spent interviewing, fact checking, learning Associated Press (AP) style shorthand, and lamenting over word choices and headline suggestions. As a section editor, countless hours are spent hunting down writers, imparting a few tidbits about journalism and encouraging them to write again despite the labyrinthine editing and publishing process. As a leader, you are required to do a little bit of everything to cross the finish line every week (now every other week) and publish the best issue possible, even if that means writing an article, or two, or your whole section.
There have been days where we’ve questioned the future of the Pioneer Log. With staff cycling through on a semester basis, it’s challenging to maintain an organizational culture and direction. The work is challenging and lacks monetary or academic incentive. Without a journalism program, student journalists rely on one another to educate themselves and that education is in no way comprehensive for such a high stakes game.
There are very real consequences to the stories we publish. Realizing the power the media has is an important lesson, even when that medium is a small liberal arts college paper with a small print circulation. Being a part of the media for four years has taught us numerous lessons, including being able to take constructive criticism and grow a thicker skin. After all, even the New York Times has a daily corrections box.
At the end of the day, we’re proud of what the Pioneer Log has accomplished and how the newspaper has evolved this semester. We have high hopes for the next generation of staffers. We would like to thank the Lewis & Clark community for continuing to work and be patient with us and challenge us to constantly do better. The feedback we’ve received this year, both positive and negative, has been enormously helpful. After all, the work we do is about the community, for the community. Thanks for reading.