This has been a long time coming, and if I had my way, I would’ve written this goodbye a long time ago. But, life doesn’t quite go as expected, and I certainly never expected to end up in such a love-hate relationship with a student newspaper.
When I first came to Millikin, my dream had nothing to do with journalism. I had no plans to write for a student newspaper, and I definitely had no plans for running one.
To say that I always believed in the Decaturian would be a lie. My first experience with the newspaper was not a positive one.
I first picked up a copy of the Decaturian while waiting to interview for the Presidential Scholarship. I had written for a newspaper once before, and it was in high school, so I didn’t have a good understanding of what one should look like.
But I knew for sure that it wasn’t supposed to look like the one I held in my hands.
The newspaper I held in my hands was cramped layout-wise. I could spot multiple errors on the first page, and it just didn’t look good. In that moment, I decided two things: one, I was going to join the newspaper, and two, I was going to fix it.
I turned to my father and told him as much, and he told me that he thought that I could do it. Little did he know, the Decaturian would become my main focus for the next three years.
To say that I did a lot my first year would be…an understatement. I did up to seven articles a week and was constantly writing. I figured if I did enough, then they’d see that I was worthy of a leadership position.
It worked. The next year, I was Assistant Editor-in-Chief and the Arts Editor. I spent that year fixing the layout, coming up with new columns that would interest our readers, and pushing my writers to write the best that they could.
That was the year that the Decaturian received national attention for our articles on one of our football players kneeling during the national anthem. I had written or co-written two of three articles that saw thousands of views and shares on our Facebook page.
Riding a high, I took up another writing job with Odyssey online and eventually became their Editor-in-Chief. I continued to do layout every Friday for the Decaturian from 5 PM-3AM. I was pushing myself harder than I ever had before.
I put my heart and soul into this newspaper for three years. It became better than it was, and it began to win awards again. Our readership began to improve. The newspaper is now better than it was when I started, but for the last year or so, they’ve improved without me.
I stepped down as Editor-in-Chief in my junior year. I had burned myself out and no longer felt the passion that I once had. I worked so hard but lacked the support I needed to keep going. And that killed me, but in the end, I had created an organization that depended on me to function.
I truly learned how far it had gone when I was hospitalized in my junior year, and the paper didn’t run for two weeks. I realized then that I had become too focused on making the newspaper better, and I hadn’t put in the steps to help it continue to be better after I was gone. So I stepped down, took a step back, and began to watch from the sidelines.
Boy, has it been interesting watching from the sidelines. As it turns out, a lot of what I implemented in my reign is still there. But the staff of the Decaturian has taken what I started and made it into something that I didn’t think it’d become until after I was gone.
The articles we’re putting out are controversial. They’re interesting. They make people think. Our audience is engaging in what we’re saying, and I couldn’t be more excited to see where we go from here. No longer is our layout what it was when I first started (we even got an honorable mention for best layout in the whole STATE), and we continue to get the recognition we deserve.
Huh, I guess I won’t be saying that any more, will I? It’s weird to think that something that I spent so long doing will continue to go on after I’m gone. It’s an interesting feeling, isn’t it? To know that things go on without you. I’m thankful that the Decaturian will go on without me. I’m confident in the staff and the editors, and I know that they’re not done striving to be the voice of Millikin.
I am honored to have been a witness to what the Decaturian has become in the last few years. The staff has grown from a few scrappy budding journalists to people who actually know what they’re doing. It’s an amazing feeling, to know that what you’ve worked on for so long is going to succeed long after you’re gone.
Oh, and don’t get me started on the people. I’ve never met a more passionate and hardworking group of people than the current staff. I haven’t been able to meet a lot of the newer people, but their articles continue to be phenomenal.
The staff of the Dec has been like a second family for me for three years, and these people will always hold a special place in my heart.
Well, ya’ll, it’s been rough, it’s been amazing, and despite the stress and the sleepless nights, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I can’t believe that I’m finally leaving! It’s so real now! But be sure that I’ll be reading articles and following where you go after I’m gone. Wish me luck, guys, and goodbye Millikin! I’ll miss you like a piece of my heart.