Production Editor’s final words before leaving The Signal

It’s been a wild ride. I’ve been at The Signal for just about three years now, two of which I’ve been the production editor. It makes me tear up that I won’t be coming back for a fourth year in full circle. I came into The Signal not knowing too much about design. To be honest, I didn’t know what InDesign was and yet, I had to guide an entire staff to prosper in design and make our newspaper look great too, all while still learning how to do all that myself. The editorial board, including myself, started off pretty rough with little to no knowledge of what it meant to be an editor.

The beginning of my term was what I considered a low point for the newspaper during my two years as editor. My production associate had to leave early in the semester, leaving me to work with a designer and an illustrator. I would work until 4 a.m. every Sunday night because production couldn’t plan covers well enough and it would take me an hour per page. We would be so proud of our covers by Tuesday’s print on stands until Friday came around and each cover would be shot down by our advisors who picked out all our flaws. It was exhausting to finish one issue by Tuesday and then go back to working on the next issue on Wednesday.

After vigorous teardowns and trial and errors, I was blessed to witness The Signal at its greatest this year. We were able to take home first place for Best College Newspaper in the Southeast. I snatched up my own first place as Best News Graphic Designer at the Southeastern Journalism Conference (SEJC) in Mississippi as well. It now takes me less than 10 minutes per page and 30 minutes tops for a designed one. I see students on campus pick up our paper more than I’ve ever seen before. They’re looking at our work, reading it, analyzing it and educating themselves. That’s what the takeaway from this whole experience is.

Hard work does pay off.

The staff works ridiculously hard to publish every week and that motivates me to work harder. That’s the purpose of an organization. To help you grow and work as an individual. There have been plenty of times when someone has degraded my work and the paper, simply because it’s a newspaper. But as cliché as it sounds, we’re more than a newspaper. I work with a wonderful staff of seven designers, illustrators and even an English major with a passion for drawing. I play the role of not only an editor but as a best friend when they have adult problems. I am their mentor as well as their listener. The editorial board is my family. We’re there for each other, we save each other’s asses when we’re on deadline. Together we published 58 issues and ended our final one strong.

As college students, we should open up and explore the possibilities our campus offers. I never thought I’d be a part of a newspaper and journalism community, nor did I imagine ever taking taking on a role like a production editor when I stepped into our always-closed-up doors, fall 2014. The Signal has taught me more than design and it opened more opportunities than my nine to five job. With journalism conferences at least once a year, learning what it means to tell a story and how to do it, how to be a leader, working with a team and the sub-teams under that, editorial work, planning, time keeping and teamwork, these are the qualities that has set me up for the future.
Thank you to my staff designers, the editorial board, my editor-in-chief and my advisors. We did good.