Fingerprints

Something special happens when you spend hours and hours every week, long into the night, making something that needs to be made.

Under the onslaught of tight deadlines, distracting responsibilities, stress, triumph, and difficult stories, you get to know people in a way you won’t ever get to know anyone else. You experience the people you’re working with as a pure expression of their tenacity, vision and ethics.

I have been the Editor in Chief of City College News for over a year. As far as our advisor knows, the longest any EIC has ever served. The City College News of Feb. 2013 is almost unrecognizable from the City College News of Jan. 2012, when I started in this position. Only the flag, it seems, remains the same.

Our production has doubled, our sections have expanded and diversified, we’ve worked with numerous clubs, continued to place in competitions, we have a new office, and, as far as we know, we have the only journalism training program at a community college.

While one of the EIC’s primary roles is to be the “philosopher of the paper,” as my predecessor Aaron DuBois put it, these are not things for which I can honestly take the largest amount of credit.

I have had the great fortune to work with one of the longest-standing editorial boards within the memory of CCN, and the most committed set of staff.

Community college newspapers face a degree of diversity usually not seen at four-year colleges. Our population is older, with more responsibilities in other areas of their lives. Our tenure is shorter, and our turnover rate is high for that reason.

Yet, there is such a great need for community college newspapers. Unsheltered by a sprawling campus or dorm culture, MCTC is right on street level, and what happens in Minneapolis is ultimately happening in MCTC. There are more stories deserving of being told than we could ever hope to cover.

The editorial board of community college newspapers are known for their tendency to have an air of defeat and resignation. No such air exists on CCN. We have a unique legacy of tenacity in what is an extremely challenging environment.

Despite their comparatively heavy responsibilities, I am inspired by the sheer commitment and innovation of our staff. I’m humbled by the way they care for each other, and the grace with which they are handling my awkwardly-timed departure.

This will be my last issue as the Editor In Chief of City College News, and there are so many mixed emotions.

There’s something wonderful about the way ink rubs off on your fingers when you hold a paper that was just pulled off the press. You mark what you’ve created, and it marks you.

My fingerprints have been on every page of City College News for quite a long time now. There is a sadness in seeing them beginning to fade, as I transition away from the paper and other people make marks to fill the empty spaces I’ve left behind.

There’s a sadness as City College News begins to look less and less like something I have touched.

But there is also a joy in seeing that it is beginning to look more and more like something fresh and new. It’s exciting to see so many people who have lofty ideas, and who want the position of the philosopher of the paper, despite all its difficulties and responsibilities.

I was given a lot of ideas about how to write this. To write about how well we’ve done at competitions, to write about my transition out of being a traveler and the new sense of purpose and adventure City College News gave me, to write about some of the stories we’ve covered, to write about virtually anything except what I can’t help but feel is most important.

What is really important, and what this must be about, is the honor of working with such an incredible, dedicated and idealistic staff, and reporting on such a remarkable and under-covered populace.

The EIC is often viewed as the head of the paper — the pinnacle of a top-down structure. And perhaps it is on paper, but that isn’t what it is in reality.

In reality, being the EIC has been about facilitating and guarding all of the drive and ideas and ethical imperative that already exists in the staff. It’s about taking all of those things that are already there, and directing them.

City College News never needed my help being an exceptional story in what is too often a depressing history of community college organizations. And they don’t need it now.

But I did need their help in recognizing what an important job we actually do, and how many stories truly exist in and around our campus that need to be told.

Too often, I am the kind of person who despite my loud voice, prefers to stay out of view, and occupying this position on a paper that has to fight so hard to excel, I have had little choice but to come face-to-face with the people we really serve, and how worthy their stories really are.

My only advice to the incoming Editor In Chief, for there isn’t really any way to prepare someone for this job, is to let them show you what doing this is actually about. Let their questions and their convictions show you the gravity and importance of reporting the stories too often untold, and give voice to that as purely as the limits of language and leadership allow.

Politicians and celebrities will always have someone schmoozing for their time, but the people here are the ones who create the world in which we live, and they are the ones whose stories are really worth telling.

If that’s the last fingerprint I leave on City College News, I’ll be happy with that.

Thank you for one of the most eye-opening years of my life.

Don’t forget to call, will ya?


Good night and good luck,
Cassiopaea Tambolini