This is just the beginning

It is difficult to write this letter. After devoting three years to college media, it’s hard to say goodbye without choking back a few tears. 

Working in college media redefined my life. I realized who I was, where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do. I’ve met and worked with hundreds of fellow students, most of whom shared the relentless passion for the ideals of journalism and the potential impact it aspired to bring. These folks became lifelong friends, and I wouldn’t trade anything in the world for them.

When I interviewed for this job around this time last year, I was asked what my biggest strength as a leader was. I told them that I would like to believe I bring the best out of people, and as the editor-in-chief, I would be in the best position to put that into practice.

Little did I know, though, just how much work needed to be done. Well, I sort of knew, since I was the senior editor at the time, but I had no idea how extensive the weaknesses were.

We needed to reorganize our advertising and distribution structure, establish a marketing plan, develop an online-first strategy and build a lasting and recognizable brand. Most importantly, we needed to foster collaboration between editors, reporters, photographers and designers.

Essentially, we needed a complete overhaul. This was not a small feat. So instead of hanging out on a beach all summer, we spent our vacation working on all of this exhaustively within the confines of our newsroom.

Fast forward to present day: we’ve hosted journalism conferences (and even put one together from scratch), tripled our social media reach and online readership, published exclusive daily online content, co-hosted the highly successful (albeit controversial) Student Government election debates, expanded our print distribution to include areas around Downtown Atlanta, and of course, we launched the much-lauded redesign of our print edition along with a brand new website.

I have always believed that the two primary goals of a newspaper are A) be a watchdog and B) cultivate a community. With everything that’s been accomplished this year, I believe we’ve made significant steps in that direction.

I’d like to believe it was my so-called skill in bringing out the best in people, but I can’t consciously take any of the credit. It belongs to the team I was honored to serve with.

It was the biggest lesson I learned as an EIC—you’re only as good as your team, and I was fortunate to have such a passionate group of individuals who worked tirelessly seven days a week to accommodate the paper’s new needs.

No other staff before them worked this hard (not that previous staffs didn’t work hard, but they didn’t have worry about daily online content, intricate print designs and social media interaction) and I couldn’t be prouder of their accomplishments.

Sure, it wasn’t always perfect, but how can we be? We’re students learning the ropes and mistakes were bound to be made, as long as we made the effort to admit our screw-ups and fix it. What was important to us this year was setting a foundation, and one that actually works.

The Signal has come a long way. When I first started working here, editors and reporters never met; neither would recognize each other if they passed in the hallway. Now, reporters, editors, photographers and designers all collaborate on each print story. It’s become more than an organization—we’ve become family.

Which is what makes this farewell so painful. For three years, I have lived and breathed college journalism. And just as we’re taking off, I have to move on. I have spent endless hours in the newsroom, reporting and designing, coaching and pushing, developing and creating—yet I don’t regret a single moment, even when my personal and social life went down the drain. Everything I have learned about journalism, I’ve learned in the newsroom of college media. I’ve never been so intrigued, so invigorated and so inspired.

They were, by far, the best years of my life.

But as I move on to the next phase in my journalism career, I’m excited to see The Signal continue its journey in becoming a journalism powerhouse in the heart of Atlanta. With the stage set for both goals, the road ahead is bright and wide open.

You ain’t seen nothing yet.



1 Comment

  1. Sabastian, it was an honor to work with you. I learned more from you and from working with all of the awesome editorial board members than I learned from several classes combined. I’m proud of where the paper stands now, and I would even venture to say that rather than merely making steps towards goals, we have met and even surpassed them. Next year’s editors and staff members have a solid base to build on, and I see great things in The Signal’s future!

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